A male great crested grebe feeds his mate during courtship.

Many birds perform rituals as a part of the process of pairing up, and this is called courtship. In some species, only the male performs these displays, and sometimes both sexes do. In some larger birds, mostly waterbirds, displays are mutual. Some examples are the dances of some grebes. Among songbirds, the display is solely performed by the male, while the female watches.


One of the most spectacular displays is when a peacock fans its feathers in hope of attracting the hen.

A display seen in many groups of birds is courtship feeding. The male usually feeds the female. Although it is called "feeding", sometimes no food is actually transferred. But among hawks and owls, when the female is ready to lay the eggs, she is too heavy and exhausted to hunt. So, the male helps in feeding her at the nest.

Some of the most spectacular courtship rituals are those performed by a group of males on dancing grounds, or "leks". Certain grouse, such as prairie-chickens and the sage grouse spend much of the spring on the lek. They display with bizarre postures, motions, and sounds. When a female visits the site, they will mate with one of the males and then go off to lay the eggs and raise the young.