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Modified 4-Feb-12
Created 4-Feb-12
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Bald eagles mating
Llano River, Llano County, Llano, Texas

How do birds mate?

The mating of most birds starts with a courtship period, in which the male bird tries to woo the female bird. During the courtship period, in order to attract the female bird, the male bird resorts to singing as well as dancing (tail drumming). To show her willingness, the female bird changes the position of her tail and keeps it to the side. This is an indication that she wants the male bird to stand behind her for mating.

For the actual act of birds mating, the male positions his cloaca in proximity to that of the female's cloaca so that the sperm can enter the female bird. The cloacas of both the male and the female are pressed tightly together at this juncture in what is termed as a "cloacal kiss" so that the sperm can pass through smoothly. Once the sperm enters the female bird, it is stored till the time the eggs come out of the ovaries of the female bird. Some species of birds can store the sperm for only about a week while others can store the sperm for hundreds days. When the eggs fall out from the ovaries, they are fertilized by the stored sperms. These fertilized eggs are then laid by the female bird through the same opening i.e., cloaca. (Latin, meaning sewer)

It is not biologically important for birds to mate frequently as the sperm is stored inside the female bird for a long time. Still, birds copulate a number of times during the breeding season as during this time, hormones play havoc with their system and they experience an undeniable urge to have sex.

The majority of birds mate the same way as mentioned above. Post mating, when the eggs are laid, the baby bird grows inside the eggs and to aid this process the male and the female bird incubate it. Finally, one day the egg is hatched and the small baby birds come out from the eggs. The question one should really be concerned about is not how do birds mate but how do we provide them with a conducive environment so that more and more birds are reproduced, whose beauty we can enjoy while bird watching
for years to come.

By Asstha Dogra
Published: 7/9/2010

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