Posted in About Hummingbirds on October 14, 2011
The hummingbird’s mating rituals are interesting. They display some courtship behavior clearly distinct from other birds. Their spatuletail courtship dance is probably one of the most weird mating rituals in the entire bird world, with males attacking each other off while flailing their extravagant tipped feather tails called spatules. The male hummingbird is naturally aggressive when guarding its territory against other intruding male hummingbirds. They do so because the male with the greater number blooming flowers in his own territory has the best chance of attracting female hummingbirds.
The hummingbird’s mating rituals starts with the male dancing his way up to his female prospect by puffing up its chest and tossing its head around at the same time just to show off its display of colorful colors. Other hummingbird species like the Allen hummingbirds flies wildly back and forth in front of female prospects. They do this to show off their elongated bodies and extended tail feathers. Sometimes, females can respond by also performing dances on their own.
Male hummingbirds perform a dive during mating rituals. The typical courtship dive is the male’s idea of displaying his strength and endurance to his female prospect. Just at the start of the mating season, males can climb upwards at 60 feet, probably more, and then dive down towards the earth at 50 miles an hour top speeds. They can do this at an average of 30 miles an hour. Males fly in a u-shaped arc in several successions just to impress the female. They pull out of the dive just as they get near the females observing them. Many North American hummingbird species rely on these highly specialized styles of different flight displays to convince the females of their prowess.
The hummingbird is particularly known for the unique humming sound that its wings create during flight. But what is more interesting is the peeps and chatters that hummingbirds generate while performing a mating dance. The Anna hummingbirds in particular, are known for their mating songs. There are also times when male hummingbirds group themselves together in a “lek” and sing for females. As many as 100 male hummingbirds can participate in a lek.
Hummingbird Mating is clearly fast, lasting only after 3 to 5 seconds. Penetration is absent as male hummingbirds do not have external penises. What happens instead is that their cloacas are hard-pressed together for the sperm of the male to transfer to the female. This is popularly called the “cloacal kiss.” After this, the male has already done his part. He will then wait for more females to come by. A male hummingbird will spend his whole lifetime mating other females.
After finally choosing her mate, the female then proceeds to build her nest. She’ll use either the trees or ground cover, depending on the species of course. A typical hummingbird nest, about the size of a golf ball, or half dollar is made up of lichen, plants, hair and grass, held together using spider webs. Females normally maintain the nest alone, as males usually leaves after mating.
All throughout the hummingbird species, the hummingbird’s mating rituals always follow this few and distinct patterns.