Courtship feeding prior to copulation

posted in: Courtship-Mating | 0

It is common to witness courtship feeding prior to copulation in birds LINK. Humans may construe this as sexual bribery LINK, but is this so? It has been suggested that “courtship feeding behaviour is important in the establishment of pair bonds” and that such feeding influences clutch weight in certain species of birds and that it may also function as a predictor that the male bird’s “future performance in providing food for his offspring” LINK.

Dick Tan’s series of images of a male Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) show a butterfly (above) and an insect (below) being offered, presumably by the male as courtship offerings.

On the other hand there are many cases of copulation without courtship feeding LINK.

Usually after courtship feeding, the male will mount the female (below), …

… doing a balancing act to have his cloaca make contact with that of the female in order to pass his sperms to the female below.

This is commonly known as “cloacal kiss” (above, below).

Among ducks, geese, ostriches and a few other groups, sperms are still deposited deep into the oviduct via the penis of the male LINK. However, other male birds have lost their penis during evolution LINK and need to adopt cloacal kiss in order to pass sperms to the female.

Dick Tan
24th May 2018


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