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!


European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) female boxing male during courtship, UK  (non-ex) - Andy Rouse
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Andy Rouse / European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) female boxing male during courtship, UK (non-ex)
Asiatic Lions courtship behaviour. (Panthera leo persica)  New Delhi Zoo. - Ashok Jain
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Ashok Jain / Asiatic Lions courtship behaviour. (Panthera leo persica) New Delhi Zoo.
Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica) courtship, Sierra de Gredos, Spain, November 2008 - Wild Wonders of Europe / Widstrand
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Wild Wonders of Europe / Widstrand / Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica) courtship, Sierra de Gredos, Spain, November 2008
Brazilian Tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) in water. The male at the rear is courting the female. Captive. Medellin Zoo, Antioquia, Colombia. - Roland Seitre
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Roland Seitre / Brazilian Tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) in water. The male at the rear is courting the female. Captive. Medellin Zoo, Antioquia, Colombia.
Male Carola's Parotia (Parotia carolae) bird of paradise displaying on his display court to five females perched above, Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New... - Tim Laman
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Tim Laman / Male Carola's Parotia (Parotia carolae) bird of paradise displaying on his display court to five females perched above, Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New...
Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus) male displaying to female on his display vine, Papua New Guinea - Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection
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Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection / Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus) male displaying to female on his display vine, Papua New Guinea
Blue Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rudolphi) male performing practice display in the vicinity of the Tari Valley, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. - Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection
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Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection / Blue Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rudolphi) male performing practice display in the vicinity of the Tari Valley, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea.
Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus) male displaying to female from his display vine, Papua New Guinea. Winner, Special Award Portfolio, Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPOY) 2014 competitio... - Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection
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Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection / Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus) male displaying to female from his display vine, Papua New Guinea. Winner, Special Award Portfolio, Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPOY) 2014 competitio...
King bird of paradise (Cicinnurus regius) male performing open wings display, Papua New Guinea - Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection
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Tim Laman/Nat Geo Image Collection / King bird of paradise (Cicinnurus regius) male performing open wings display, Papua New Guinea
Magnificent Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus) male at calling perch near his display court.  Huon Peninsula, YUS Conservation Area, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. - Tim Laman
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Tim Laman / Magnificent Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus) male at calling perch near his display court. Huon Peninsula, YUS Conservation Area, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea.
Wallace's Standardwing Bird of Paradise (Semioptera wallacei) male at his display site in the rainforest canopy, Halmahera, Indonesia. - Tim Laman
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Tim Laman / Wallace's Standardwing Bird of Paradise (Semioptera wallacei) male at his display site in the rainforest canopy, Halmahera, Indonesia.
Great Bowerbird (Chlamydera nuchalis) male performing a peripheral display around his bower while holding a red plastic cap. James Cook University Campus, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Sept 2009 - Tim Laman
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Tim Laman / Great Bowerbird (Chlamydera nuchalis) male performing a peripheral display around his bower while holding a red plastic cap. James Cook University Campus, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Sept 2009
Male Vogelkop bowerbird (Amblyornis inornata) inspects the decorations outside his bower. Vogelkop Peninsula, West Papua, Indonesia. Picture taken during filming for BBC ^Life^ TV Series, September 20... - Barrie Britton
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Barrie Britton / Male Vogelkop bowerbird (Amblyornis inornata) inspects the decorations outside his bower. Vogelkop Peninsula, West Papua, Indonesia. Picture taken during filming for BBC ^Life^ TV Series, September 20...
Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) adult displaying begging / courtship behaviour and calling, perched on branch in Oak (Quercus) woodlands, Snowdonia NP, Wales, UK, May. - Andy Rouse
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Andy Rouse / Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) adult displaying begging / courtship behaviour and calling, perched on branch in Oak (Quercus) woodlands, Snowdonia NP, Wales, UK, May.
Jackdaw courtship {Corvus monedula} Cornwall, UK - Ross Hoddinott
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Ross Hoddinott / Jackdaw courtship {Corvus monedula} Cornwall, UK
European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) courtship display of mating pair, Germany - Dietmar Nill
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Dietmar Nill / European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) courtship display of mating pair, Germany
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) male in breeding plumage performing a ^bubbling display^which is used in both courtship and aggressive territorial encounters. The male holds its head and tail and 2 ro... - Gerrit Vyn
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Gerrit Vyn / Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) male in breeding plumage performing a ^bubbling display^which is used in both courtship and aggressive territorial encounters. The male holds its head and tail and 2 ro...
Hooded merganser (Mergus / Lophodytes cucullatus) male displaying in breeding plumage, presumed wild bird at Radipole Lake RSPB reserve, Weymouth, Dorset, England, January 2009 - Guy Edwardes
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Guy Edwardes / Hooded merganser (Mergus / Lophodytes cucullatus) male displaying in breeding plumage, presumed wild bird at Radipole Lake RSPB reserve, Weymouth, Dorset, England, January 2009
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) male displaying to female, in shallow coastal water, Finland, April - Markus Varesvuo
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Markus Varesvuo / Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) male displaying to female, in shallow coastal water, Finland, April
Black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) male displaying at lek, Cairngorms National Park, Grampian, Scotland, UK, April - Mark Hamblin / 2020VISION
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Mark Hamblin / 2020VISION / Black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) male displaying at lek, Cairngorms National Park, Grampian, Scotland, UK, April
Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) male displaying at dusk, UK March - Andy Rouse
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Andy Rouse / Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) male displaying at dusk, UK March
Male Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanachus cupido) displaying on a lek. During the  'Booming' display males  produce sounds through their air sacs, but also by stamping their feet, wing-shaking, and ta... - Gerrit Vyn
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Gerrit Vyn / Male Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanachus cupido) displaying on a lek. During the 'Booming' display males produce sounds through their air sacs, but also by stamping their feet, wing-shaking, and ta...