Bird reproduction is as complicated and as simple as reproduction of many other animals. Ultimately, the male and female come together to make a baby.
Previously I have talked about the different strategies that birds have to raise their young, such as only the mom takes care of babies. Whatever that species of birds’ strategy, they will build a nest and lay eggs in it. Those eggs hatch and become baby birds, which grow into new adult ones. This post will talk about the first step in the whole process – how birds actually ‘do it’ or reproduce.
Bird Reproduction – Similar To Most Animals
In order to make a new baby or reproduce all animals, and even most plants, require a male and female. The male sperm needs to fertilize the female’s egg. Once fertilized, the egg will grow into a new baby.
Similar to many other animals, including mammals, birds do internal fertilization. This means that the male sperm will fertilize the females egg inside of the female. Like reptiles, bird have a single tube (called a cloaca) that is a single exit and entrance from their bodies for sperm, eggs, and waste. The male will bring his sperm into the females cloaca, where it will fertilize the egg.
The egg develops inside the female. Then it will exit the female through her cloaca and she will ‘lay it’ in her nest.
First Birds Need To Attract A Mate – Courtship
The first step for birds, and any animal, is to attract a mate. This means that the birds need to spend time looking at all of the potential mates and picking one that they want to have babies with. Males will put on their breeding plumage, their brightest feathers, to attract females. Males may perform different courting rituals in an attempt to attract a female, such as singing songs.
The entire process of attracting a mate is called courtship. Courtship can last for much longer than the actual act of copulation.
Once the male and female have picked a mate the next step is to actually mate.
Bird Reproduction – Copulation Or How The Male And Female Join Together
This is a bit of an awkward discussion, one that I don’t look forward to having with my own children. But, I thought that it is worth explaining just because it is natural. It will also give us a better and more complete understanding of birds.
Birds may take different positions to mate, but the most common one is for the male to sit on top of the female. The male performs a very brief balancing act. During that time the female moves her tail feathers to the side to expose her cloaca and the male brings his cloaca to touch the females. Then in only a few seconds the sperm is transferred and voila, it is done.
There are in fact a few birds, notably water birds such as ducks and geese, where the male cloaca extends and looks like a penis. The males will insert this ‘penis’ into the female cloaca to insert their sperm. A possible reason for this is that since these are water birds inserting the sperm into the female will prevent the sperm from washing away in the water.