- Author: Alison Henry
Finding a partner in the wild isn’t always easy. Many species—particularly male birds—go out of their way to perform elaborate rituals to attract a mate.
From the underwater dance of seahorses to the enthusiastic leg-lifts of the peacock spider, the animal kingdom is full of quirky and intriguing methods to impress the opposite sex.
WWF works to protect the habitats of these species and learn more about what makes them tick.
Take a look:
Playful Prairie Chicken
Northern Great Plains, United States
Male prairie chickens select “booming grounds” or “lek” sites from which they perform elaborate dances and call for a mates. During the dance, the male’s neck feathers crop up over its head, and large yellow-orange air sacs in the neck and above the eye puff out. Multiple males fight over displaying at the center of the lek, and the dominant prairie chicken performs the majority of the mating. In the Northern Great Plains, WWF helped a ranching family develop a business through which people pay to watch and photograph the dancing birds. The family also runs ranch Safari-style tours. The added income helped the next generation move back to the ranch with their families. Adopt a prairie chicken.
Shallow Tropical and Temperate Waters, Worldwide
Seahorses begin their courtship with an elaborate underwater mating dance. When male and female seahorses meet, they both brighten in color. The two then twist their tails together and swim in circles for hours on end. Male seahorses actually become pregnant and carry the growing offspring rather than the females. Adopt a seahorse.
Gallant Gentoo Penguin
Antarctic Peninsula and Surrounding Islands, and Sub-Antarctic Islands
A real charmer with his bright orange beak and signature waddle, the male Gentoo penguin presents a gift of a stone to its mate. The male and female penguin, once paired, will collect stones and plants to create a nest together. The two will trade off incubating two eggs for a little more than a month, until the chicks are born. Adopt a penguin.
Spiders can get a bad rap as creepy crawlers. But one particular peacock spider is truly a creature to behold. The male peacock spider flips up its abdomen flap—which is smattered with bright hues—and alternates raising its legs while moving around the female. It never removes any of its eyes off its potential mate during the entire extended dance.
Boisterous Blue-footed Booby
Western Coasts of Central and South America, and the Galápagos Islands
The blue-footed booby relies on flashing its magnificently colored webbed feet to attract a female. Spreading its wings and pointing its beak skyward, the male alternately lifts each foot and lets out a whistle—a special dance for its potential mate. Adopt a blue-footed booby.