Which lovebird are you?

A pair of mourning doves strengthen their bond by mutual preening and cooing softly to each other. Doves mate for life and inspired the term ‘lovey dovey’ in the late 1700s. Source: idioms.com. Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS.

Are you a lovebird? You might be if you point, stare, hop, hoot or cartwheel for your sweetheart! Which of nature’s pairs below best reflects your inner cupid? 💘

Mōlī (Laysan albatross)

Two Laysan albatross at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial. Photo by Kiah Walker/USFWS.

Reaching maturity as late as 10 years, these birds don’t rush into anything. They first learn from their elders, observing courtship rituals like dancing, preening, staring, and pointing bills. After years of homework, the young adult albatross starts by dancing with many partners, but over the years, narrows it down to the “chosen one.” In some cases, same sex individuals pair together and raise offspring. One same sex pair in Hawai‘i has been observed together for 19 years!

Bald eagle

Two bald eagles engage in a courtship display. Source: https://gph.is/g/EBrBpAB

The regal bald eagle puts on one of the most spectacular courtship shows. Mated partners lock talons in midflight and then spiral in a free-fall dive known as cartwheeling. Eagles often mate for life, and pairs will return to the same nests year after year. Male bald eagles help with nest construction and raising the eaglets.

Sandhill crane

Sandhill cranes displaying a courtship dance at Cosumnes River Preserve in California. Photo by Bob Wicks/BLM.

During mating season, the tall, elegant sandhills stand close together, singing songs in synchronized unison then jumping into a well-choreographed dance number. Dancing can occur any time of year and may play a role in strengthening the pair bond.

Great horned owl

Great horned owl pair. Photo courtesy of Robert Pruner/Creative Commons. https://flic.kr/p/bxzGQT.

These owls perform lengthy courtship duets beginning in winter. Listen for characteristic hoots on cold, crisp evenings at dusk or dawn. Females are larger than males and start the duet, and the smaller males respond with a much lower pitched hoot. Attentive males will bring food to the nest for the female and owlets.

Wilson’s phalarope

A Wilson’s phalarope pair; female at left and male at right. Photo courtesy of Ric Grupe.

In a complete role reversal from most bird species, females of this little shorebird exhibit vivid chestnut and black colors along the face and neck in breeding season as they court many males. The selected partner does most of the egg incubation. This is unlike most of the bird world where males wear the colors and either share incubation/rearing duties or leave it all up to the females.

Between dancing, serenading, or taking your time to find ‘the one,’ lovebird pairs come in all shapes and sizes. Tell us, who do you identify with the most?

Written by Susan Sawyer, public affairs officer and Rebecca Fabbri, public affairs specialist, California-Great Basin




We’re dedicated to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

“Finding the Bigger Me” with Christian Shearer

Can Bringing Back The Woolly Mammoth Save the Planet?

Save Our Planet (Now!)

Time To Clock What A True Celebration Is!

Conservatives, liberals, here’s your killer “green deal” and survival plan!

The largest closed sea in the world

we created this beast

The Great Carbon Distraction

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

We’re dedicated to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats.

More from Medium

A Day for Mothers Includes Nature

Moving Waves: long exposure photography with a smartphone

College Students Rescue Dog Buried in Avalanche

A dog covered in snow.

A healthy coexistence between cats is not always easy, it is all too universal for our cats to…