Sex and the Birds: 11. Sex-role reversal and Greater Painted-snipe

posted in: Courtship-Mating, Sex | 0

The Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis) has developed a unique mating system where the female (above) is larger and more brightly coloured than the male (below). As such, she actively courts the male. This involves allopreening the male and adopting a “spread-wing display” where both wings are fully extended and arched forward with the tail fanned and raised. She also circles the male at the same time calling softly. Once copulation is completed, the pair stand close to each other and call, while the female sometimes opens and lifts her wings upwards.

Once she lays her eggs, the male incubates them. This frees her to mate with another male… and another …and even a fourth male. The different nests may be close together.

This is an excellent example of polyandry where a female mates with more than one male. However, in certain areas where the population is sparse, monogamy is seen.

Credit: YC Wee (text) & Dr Eric Tan (images).

Kirwan, G. M., 1996. Family Rostratulidae (Painted-snipes). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 3. Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 291-301.

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