How do birds behave in “love”? Which are the most faithful and which are the most romantic? In which species do cases of “marital infidelity” occur? These and some other questions related to the love behavior of birds will be answered below. Birds are the most faithful partners in the animal world. When it comes to true commitment, love and even the fidelity that comes naturally with them, some animals are far ahead of man, as is the case with birds. These wonderful feathered creatures are so attached to their chosen ones in life that in case of separation or death, they themselves die of a “broken heart”. Statistically, about 90% of bird species are monogamous, which means that they mate with one partner, only in one breeding season or during their entire life.
A form of monogamy where individuals have one partner during the breeding season can be found in penguins, known birds of the southern hemisphere. They face numerous challenges when it comes to raising offspring because of the harsh and cold environment in which they live, and for that reason they are looking for a responsible and dedicated partner. Although in most cases love lasts only one season, exceptions are not uncommon, so some couples are sought again and again each season. Of particular interest is a pair of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) that scientists have followed and noticed have been returning to each other for 16 years. This is called love and loyalty.
Red-billed Swan (Cygnus olor), Photo by Borut Rubinić
These beautiful, elegant-looking birds make monogamous relationships that last for many years, and in some cases their entire lives. The intertwined slender necks of swans, which form a heart, have become a universal symbol of love and fidelity. Yet the reason for their unbreakable bond is not so much romantic as practical. These birds spend a lot of time migrating, establishing and defending the territory, incubating and raising young, so they do not have much time left to choose and look for a new partner every time. Males are dedicated to the family, help build nests and lay eggs. If they are left without a partner for several seasons they do not mate at all, and some specimens remain eternal widows.
Time will tell how the most famous Montenegrin widower, Mr. Perko, who decided to stay in Berane this year due to the loss of a female during the migration, will manage. We still hope that some lady will comfort her family, whose love affairs and accidents concern the whole of Montenegro.
Albatrosses are specific and unique because of their patience and perseverance when it comes to romance. Young albatrosses learn from older ones how to court, beautify and draw attention to themselves with rattles, deep bows and dance moves. After learning the basics of seduction, they “dance” with several partners until they find the perfect companion with whom they stay for the rest of their lives. The selection of a partner with them is gradual and can take up to 15 years.
Although they cross great overseas distances, they always fly back to the same place and look for the same partner when it comes time to breed. They show their infatuation with a silly but gentle ritual dance they perform before mating which makes them especially sympathetic. The duration of their relationships is measured in years and usually ends when one of the birds dies.
This is not the case with most birds. In 1996, Jeffrey Black compiled a table with the rate of “divorce” of birds for the needs of the author’s work “Partnership with Birds”. He collected data on hundreds of different species of birds, and estimated how often these birds break off partnerships before any of them die. Among them, flamingos are singled out, which have the highest rate of “divorce” (99%). In wild ducks, the success rate of “marriages” was 91%, and the true champions of fidelity are albatrosses (100%), whose partnership can last for decades. To the surprise of many, swans have a divorce rate of 5%, which is not a negligible figure. Scientific research has shown that black swans have much “more liberal understandings” and often change partners.
Great Pennant (Phoenicopterus roseus), Photo by CZIP
The environment is one of the essential factors of monogamy or “marital infidelity” in the animal world. When, for example, living conditions are difficult and the environment is hostile, then more energy is expended to keep the cubs, so the male has less time to “scurry” around.