Concepts > Behaviour > Animal Courtship (70) More files...
Animals use many and varied means in their courtship and mating rituals. Birds of paradise, for instance, have evolved extremely complex displays and colourful plumes, while bowerbirds focus on eleaborately decorated display grounds. Some animals present nuptial gifts, others engage in aggressive or defensive biting and punching, and many species employ loud vocalisations and bright colours.



Explore our gallery of courtship behaviour, from chilled out seals to affectionate owls and ecstatic newts!


Mute swan (Cygnus olor) two adults on water in courtship display, Lorraine, France, January. - Michel Poinsignon
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Michel Poinsignon / Mute swan (Cygnus olor) two adults on water in courtship display, Lorraine, France, January.
Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei) male and female after mating. Rwanda, Africa - Andy Rouse
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Andy Rouse / Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei) male and female after mating. Rwanda, Africa
Rock beauty angelfish (Holacanthus tricolor) pair at dusk performing their courtship dance with the larger male circling the female, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies. Cari... - Alex Mustard
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Alex Mustard / Rock beauty angelfish (Holacanthus tricolor) pair at dusk performing their courtship dance with the larger male circling the female, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies. Cari...
Little owl (Athene noctua) pair perched, courtship behaviour, Spain - Dietmar Nill
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Dietmar Nill / Little owl (Athene noctua) pair perched, courtship behaviour, Spain
Pair of European bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) with courtship offering of insect prey,  Pusztaszer, Kiskunsagi National Park, Hungary - Bence Mate
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Bence Mate / Pair of European bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) with courtship offering of insect prey, Pusztaszer, Kiskunsagi National Park, Hungary
Gannet (Morus bassanus) breeding pair during part of their elaborate courtship ritual. Saltee Islands, Republic of Ireland, May. - Andrew Parkinson
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Andrew Parkinson / Gannet (Morus bassanus) breeding pair during part of their elaborate courtship ritual. Saltee Islands, Republic of Ireland, May.
Hippos courting {Hippopotamus amphibius} Masai Mara NR, Kenya. - Anup Shah
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Anup Shah / Hippos courting {Hippopotamus amphibius} Masai Mara NR, Kenya.
Lioness (Panthera leo) resting on a fallen tree with a courting male. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, July - Anup Shah,Anup Shah
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Anup Shah,Anup Shah / Lioness (Panthera leo) resting on a fallen tree with a courting male. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, July
Maasai Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) courtship displayMaasai Mara, Kenya, Africa - Andy Rouse
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Andy Rouse / Maasai Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) courtship displayMaasai Mara, Kenya, Africa
Male Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostrus) rubbing his sensitive snout on a larger female during courtship. The female's calf looks on, below. Three Sisters Spring, Crystal River, Florida,... - Alex Mustard
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Alex Mustard / Male Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostrus) rubbing his sensitive snout on a larger female during courtship. The female's calf looks on, below. Three Sisters Spring, Crystal River, Florida,...
European hares (Lepus europaeus) courtship chase, UK, February - Andy  Rouse
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Andy Rouse / European hares (Lepus europaeus) courtship chase, UK, February
Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) pair, Donna Nook, Lincolnshire, UK, November 2008 - Wild Wonders of Europe / Geslin
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Wild Wonders of Europe / Geslin / Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) pair, Donna Nook, Lincolnshire, UK, November 2008
Grey-crowned crane pair (Balearica regulorum) Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. December - Anup Shah
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Anup Shah / Grey-crowned crane pair (Balearica regulorum) Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. December
Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) courting pair leaping from the sea, Kaikoura, Canterbury, New Zealand, January. - Brent Stephenson
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Brent Stephenson / Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) courting pair leaping from the sea, Kaikoura, Canterbury, New Zealand, January.
Alpine Newts (Triturus alpestris) male and female displaying courtship behaviour, Captive.   From Traversari lake, Campigna National Park, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany regions, Italy - Fabio Liverani
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Fabio Liverani / Alpine Newts (Triturus alpestris) male and female displaying courtship behaviour, Captive. From Traversari lake, Campigna National Park, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany regions, Italy
Rock beauty (Holacanthus tricolor) pair spawning, with the male rubbing against the flank of the female during the spawning rise, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies, Caribbe... - Alex Mustard
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Alex Mustard / Rock beauty (Holacanthus tricolor) pair spawning, with the male rubbing against the flank of the female during the spawning rise, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies, Caribbe...
Impala (Aepyceros melampus) male jumping during rut. Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa. - Andy Rouse
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Andy Rouse / Impala (Aepyceros melampus) male jumping during rut. Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa.
Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) male displaying, red throat pouch inflated. Galapagos - Ole Jorgen Liodden
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Ole Jorgen Liodden / Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) male displaying, red throat pouch inflated. Galapagos
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) male in full display. This was the dominant male at the lek. Varanger, Norway, June. - Roger Powell
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Roger Powell / Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) male in full display. This was the dominant male at the lek. Varanger, Norway, June.
Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) male depositing blue pen at bower, Lamington NP, Queensland, Australia, September - David Tipling
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David Tipling / Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) male depositing blue pen at bower, Lamington NP, Queensland, Australia, September
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) slapping the surface during courtship battle, Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico - Mark Carwardine
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Mark Carwardine / Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) slapping the surface during courtship battle, Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico
Male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus) displaying. Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, Peru, August. - Hermann Brehm
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Hermann Brehm / Male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus) displaying. Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, Peru, August.
Blue footed booby 'dancing' display (Sula nebouxii) Galapagos - Nick Garbutt
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Nick Garbutt / Blue footed booby 'dancing' display (Sula nebouxii) Galapagos
King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) male and female courtship, Agumbe, Karnatka, India, captive - Sandesh Kadur
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Sandesh Kadur / King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) male and female courtship, Agumbe, Karnatka, India, captive
Green poison arrow frog {Dendrobates auratus} female stroking male's back, courtship, Panama - Neil Bromhall
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Neil Bromhall / Green poison arrow frog {Dendrobates auratus} female stroking male's back, courtship, Panama
Pyrenean mountain newt / brook salamander (Calotriton / Euproctus asper) mating pair, captive, from Pyreneen mountains, France and Spain, near threatened - Daniel Heuclin
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Daniel Heuclin / Pyrenean mountain newt / brook salamander (Calotriton / Euproctus asper) mating pair, captive, from Pyreneen mountains, France and Spain, near threatened
American alligator {Alligator mississippiensis}  courtship behaviour, captive, Florida, USA - Steven David Miller
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Steven David Miller / American alligator {Alligator mississippiensis} courtship behaviour, captive, Florida, USA
Couch's Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii) adult at night calling with vocal sac inflated. Laredo, Webb County, South Texas, USA, April. - Rolf Nussbaumer
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Rolf Nussbaumer / Couch's Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii) adult at night calling with vocal sac inflated. Laredo, Webb County, South Texas, USA, April.
Greater Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea apoda) female checks out two adult males performing the inverted static display at their display lek.  Badigaki Forest, Wokam Island in the Aru Islands, Indonesia. - Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection
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Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection / Greater Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea apoda) female checks out two adult males performing the inverted static display at their display lek. Badigaki Forest, Wokam Island in the Aru Islands, Indonesia.
Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) pair performing courtship display at dawn, backlit with surrounding by mist, Cheshire, UK, March - Ben  Hall
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Ben Hall / Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus) pair performing courtship display at dawn, backlit with surrounding by mist, Cheshire, UK, March
Greater Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea apoda) male performing upright wing pose display, Badigaki Forest, Wokam Island in the Aru Islands, Indonesia. - Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection
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Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection / Greater Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea apoda) male performing upright wing pose display, Badigaki Forest, Wokam Island in the Aru Islands, Indonesia.
Peacock, a male Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) displaying. Kona, Hawaii, USA, April - Diane McAllister
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Diane McAllister / Peacock, a male Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) displaying. Kona, Hawaii, USA, April
Lesser flamingos (Phoenicopterus minor) courtship dance. Lake Bogoria, Kenya. Picture taken during filming for BBC ^Life^ TV Series, May 2008 Not available for ringtone/wallpaper use. - Barrie Britton
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Barrie Britton / Lesser flamingos (Phoenicopterus minor) courtship dance. Lake Bogoria, Kenya. Picture taken during filming for BBC ^Life^ TV Series, May 2008 Not available for ringtone/wallpaper use.
Pair of Puffins (Fratercula arctica) in courtship ritual on grassy clifftop. Iceland, June - STEVE KNELL
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STEVE KNELL / Pair of Puffins (Fratercula arctica) in courtship ritual on grassy clifftop. Iceland, June
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) male passing fish to female during spring courtship behaviour, Hertfordshire, England, UK, March. Sequence 1 of 6. - Andy Sands
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Andy Sands / Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) male passing fish to female during spring courtship behaviour, Hertfordshire, England, UK, March. Sequence 1 of 6.
Mating pair of King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) on Gold Beach, South Georgia Island, Sub Antarctica. - Carol Walker
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Carol Walker / Mating pair of King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) on Gold Beach, South Georgia Island, Sub Antarctica.
King / Imperial Cormorants (Phalacrocorax albiventer) breeding pair display courtship behaviour in the form of a ritual dance at their nesting site on Saunders Island, Falkland Islands - Charlie Summers
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Charlie Summers / King / Imperial Cormorants (Phalacrocorax albiventer) breeding pair display courtship behaviour in the form of a ritual dance at their nesting site on Saunders Island, Falkland Islands
Northern gannets (Morus / Sula bassanus) portrait of individual with a courting pair in foreground, UK, Bass Rock, Scotland, Portrait category winner in the British Wildlife Photography Awards BWPA co... - Ben Hall
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Ben Hall / Northern gannets (Morus / Sula bassanus) portrait of individual with a courting pair in foreground, UK, Bass Rock, Scotland, Portrait category winner in the British Wildlife Photography Awards BWPA co...
Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) courtship, Punta Cevallos, Espaola Island, Galapagos Islands, Critically Endangered - Pete Oxford
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Pete Oxford / Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) courtship, Punta Cevallos, Espaola Island, Galapagos Islands, Critically Endangered
Two White storks {Ciconia ciconia} courtship on nest, The Barruecos, Malpartida de Cceres, Spain. Sequence 1/3. - Jose B. Ruiz
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Jose B. Ruiz / Two White storks {Ciconia ciconia} courtship on nest, The Barruecos, Malpartida de Cceres, Spain. Sequence 1/3.
Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) in winter morning mist, showing aggression during courtship behaviour, Mississippi River, Minnesota, USA, February - Lynn M Stone
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Lynn M Stone / Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) in winter morning mist, showing aggression during courtship behaviour, Mississippi River, Minnesota, USA, February
Gannets (Morus bassanus) Saltee Islands, County Wexford, Ireland, June 2009 - Wild Wonders of Europe / Hermansen
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Wild Wonders of Europe / Hermansen / Gannets (Morus bassanus) Saltee Islands, County Wexford, Ireland, June 2009
Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) displaying. Bird Island, South Georgia, Antarctica - Doug Allan
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Doug Allan / Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) displaying. Bird Island, South Georgia, Antarctica
Japanese crane pair displaying {Grus japonensis} Akan, Japan - David Pike
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David Pike / Japanese crane pair displaying {Grus japonensis} Akan, Japan
Ostrich (Struthio camelus) pair courtship display, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa - Ingo Arndt
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Ingo Arndt / Ostrich (Struthio camelus) pair courtship display, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Africa
Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata) adult pair displaying on breeding loch, Flow Country, Highland, Scotland, UK, June. Did you know? The Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland is home to the larges... - Mark Hamblin / 2020VISION
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Mark Hamblin / 2020VISION / Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata) adult pair displaying on breeding loch, Flow Country, Highland, Scotland, UK, June. Did you know? The Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland is home to the larges...
Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) male and female pair on water, courtship behaviour, Kuusamo, Finland, May - Markus Varesvuo
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Markus Varesvuo / Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) male and female pair on water, courtship behaviour, Kuusamo, Finland, May
Black necked stilt {Himantopus mexicanus} pair mating, Welder Wildlife Refuge, Sinton, Texas, USA - Rolf Nussbaumer
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Rolf Nussbaumer / Black necked stilt {Himantopus mexicanus} pair mating, Welder Wildlife Refuge, Sinton, Texas, USA
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