Love is in the Air: 10 Birds that Mate for Life

Valentine’s Day is all about love and celebrating the most special relationships, so why not take a cue from our bird friends? Birds such as Barn Owls, Bald Eagles, and Macaroni Penguins mate for life, showing strong loyalty and devotion.

Let’s take a look at some of the fascinating facts about birds that mate for life this Valentine’s Day season. Read on for bird romance!

1. Macaroni Penguins

A pair of Macaroni Penguins on the shore. Macaroni Penguins mate for life.
Unfortunately, despite their devotion, Macaroni Penguins are a vulnerable species, due to fishing, predators and pollution. Photo Credit: Jerzystrzelecki, Wikipedia Commons

Macaroni Penguins make for an adorable bird couple. They engage in “an ecstatic display” involving dancing, swinging their heads from side to side and gurgling noises when they see each other, according to researchers. 

Source: Britannica

2. Barn Owls

Barn Owls mate for life.
These owls can live more than 30 years.

Barn Owls form strong bonds during courtship. Males hunt extra in order to provide the female with food. Males also do a courtship flight for the female with loud wing flaps and screeches involved.

Source: The NWF Blog

3. Lovebirds

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Aptly named Lovebirds will also feed each other to increase their connection.

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, Lovebirds start mating around 10 months old and pair for life, which is around 15 years. Keeping one partner is important for their social hierarchy. Lovebirds that lose their partner show signs of heartbreak, involving erratic or depressed behavior.

4. Atlantic Puffins

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This picture looks like it could be a postcard or stamp!

Atlantic Puffins are usually monogamous and return to the same burrow nesting sight every year. According to Hey Iceland, some have been documented together for more than 20 years.

According to Audubon, during mating puffins will pair up on land from the ocean and then may rub their beaks together. This behavior can draw in a crowd of puffins to watch!

Atlantic Puffins – BBC Scotland

5. Canada Geese

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You have to admit that Canada Geese babies are cute.

While I’m not a fan of geese in general (they chase and hiss at me when I’m running), they do exhibit strong family bonds. According to the Indiana Department of Resources, Canada Geese start pairing off at the age of three and mate for life.

However…they’re quick to move on if one of the pair dies. Most Canada Geese will find a new mate within the same breeding season if time allows. 

Related Content: Should I Feed Birds Bread? Everything You Need to Know

6. California Condor

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The California Condor is critically endangered. There were just a couple dozen left in the 1980s. Their population has rebounded to a few hundred in California, Utah, and Arizona.

The critically endangered California Condor mate for life. Part of why it’s challenging for their population numbers to rebound is due to them not becoming sexually mature until they’re six to eight years old, according to the Cornell Bird Lab. Females only lay one egg irregularly during nesting seasons and young depend on their parents for a full year. They nest in caves in cliff faces.

California Condors are estimated to live beyond 60 years, making their life-long devotion in the wild impressive. Fun fact: They’re also one of the largest flying birds in the world with a wingspan of more than nine feet.

7. Sandhill Cranes

sandhill crane, sandhill crane eating from the lake, sandhill crane in the water-3795456.jpg
Their average lifespan is 20 to 30 years.

Sandhill Cranes do elaborate dances to impress a significant other in their southern breeding grounds. If they impress, the couple stays together until one of them dies. 

Source: National Wildlife Foundation

8. Scarlet Macaws

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Macaws are the largest Parrots in the world.

Committed and caring, Scarlet Macaws often form lifelong partnerships. Not only do they share in food and assist with one another’s hygiene and grooming, but they also boast long lifespans of 40 to 50 years – and even as long as 70+ years! These remarkable birds demonstrate an extraordinary devotion that is second-to-none.

Source: The Rainforest Alliance

9. Trumpeter Swans

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Trumpeter Swans can weigh more than 25 pounds and need 100-yards to takeoff for flight (Cornell)

Swans are symbols of love, and for good reason. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Trumpeter Swans can live up to 25 years old. They typically mate for life unless one of them dies. Couples start nesting when they are three to four years old.

Trumpeter Swan Dads are also some of the best supportive parents around! They’re loyal to their families and play a huge role in raising offspring.

10. Bald Eagles

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Bald Eagles lock talons in a stunning mating courtship display.

According to Audubon, Bald Eagles mate for life and tend to return to the same nest sight year after year. They can live up to 30 years in the wild.

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