Courtship Rituals of Wild Birds

Bishop's Weavers Mating, Grand Rapids Michigan. October 14, 1998
Bishop’s Weavers Mating, Grand Rapids Michigan. October 14, 1998.

Sitting on my front porch this morning, I learned the courtship ritual of American Sparrows is not unlike the ritual of the African Bishop’s Weaver.

I photographed the Bishop’s Weaver ritual in 1998. Competing males weave impressive nests in hopes of attracting females. If a female shows up, the male fluffs out his orange feathers and puts on a display. If the female likes his display she enters the nest and checks it out. If she approves she sits on a branch near the nest flutters her wings and tail feathers horizontally as in invitation to mate. I watched the whole ritual in the large jungle room at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids Michigan. Photos are at the link below.

Two days ago I noticed there was no more activity at our birdhouse in the front yard. My guess was the baby sparrows had fledged. This morning the male was near the birdhouse and showing off. Not as flashy and no orange feathers, but showing off nonetheless. The female landed on a branch very close to the birdhouse and fluttered her wings and tail feathers horizontally, just like the Bishop’s Weaver. Then they mated.

This routine repeated about a half dozen times and I had nothing but an iPhone with me. I went inside to get a better camera but the ritual was over when I got back outside. The male was higher up in the tree and preening himself. He looked quite proud. The female has been busy going in and out of the birdhouse.

Meijer Gardens is a great year round location to do photography.


Mating Ritual of the Bishop’s Weaver

Favorite Photo, June 15 – Baby sparrows being fed

Frederik Meijer Gardens