Mating of wild birds occurs annually all around the globe and it does not depend on factors like geographical location, the climate of that place, or type of species. Wild birds generally mate to expand their species and it is not just an act of pleasure for them.
This can easily be proven by the fact that most male wild birds are sterile when there is no breeding season. So, do you want to know when wild birds near you mate? Here is everything about the breeding season of wild birds that a bird feeder needs to know.
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What Are the Signs of The Breeding Season?
Spring is the season when most wild birds prefer mating. The reason behind this choice is that there are sufficient food sources; there is plenty of water as the winter snow melts and because of spring rainwater and temperate season for birds to mature before the arrival of harsh winters.
The breeding of wild birds in spring varies in different areas just like the migration of birds during the same season. The warm weather of spring is ideal for the wild birds to raise their young ones; this is also one of the reasons for mating wild birds in spring.
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Blooming of Flowers
In the spring many flowers and plants begin to ripe in gardens. Many wild bird species feed on seeds, flowers, grasses, weeds, shrubs, and trees. You can add seed-bearing flowers to your gardens if you want to attract wild bird species.
Small wild birds perch on the bloom and feed directly from the flower while the larger birds rely on seeds shed on the ground by flowers. Wild birds and especially migrating birds follow the bloom cycle and evidence of fresh plant life attracts the birds northward.
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Almost all the species of wild birds molt annually after the breeding season. The new covering of the feather lasts on the body of the bird either till the next breeding season or till the next annual molt. Some wild birds take molt before the breeding season known as pre-breeding molt.
The main reason behind the formation of this feather covering is for sexual display and at the same time helps the incubating birds to hide that are vulnerable to the nest. Hence during the spring, you should keep an eye on the feathers of the visiting wild birds. If the plumage of wild birds appears to be bright then it is the sign that the breeding season of wild birds has begun.
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Recent studies of wild birds and particularly tropical birds indicate the song rate of these birds is relatively low year-round and is relatively stable throughout the year. It was also examined that the song rate of wild birds such as red-throated Ant-tanagers, predominantly increase during the breeding season.
So, you should walk outside and listen. If you feel there is an increase in bird songs, and they appear happier to you then practically breeding season is here! Wild birds mainly sing to attract mates while making them try to look more attractive than their peers.
If you notice that physical movements such as daring dives, sequence of wing flaps, head dips, and bill rubbing, indicate that the breeding season of wild birds has arrived. Different species dance differently, in some wild bird’s male alone dances while the female bird observes his actions, while in some other wild bird species partners interact with each other during dancing. If a wild bird makes mistakes in the dance, then this indicates that the bird is inexperienced and hesitant, and this can lead to unsuccessful mating.
Another method by which wild birds attract their mates is by flaunting their architectural skills. Male wild birds construct a nest before the arrival of females to claim territory and display the nesting areas they can defend.
Wild birds use different objects such as moss, pebbles, flowers, and litter to make their nests eye-catching. Female birds choose their own nest according to her preference or she may still build her own after mating with her chosen male.
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What Are the Factors Affecting the Mating Season of Wild Birds?
Wild birds do not simply mate for pleasure, the main reason behind mating is procreation. Wild birds chose that season for mating when the chance of survival of resulting chicks is more. The factors that affect the mating season of birds are:
The geography of the bird’s breeding range plays a very important role in the breeding of wild birds. The farther north the breeding range of a wild bird is located, the more time birds will take to reach there because of the greater distance and hence later the breeding season of wild birds will begin. They may also have a shorter incubation period to account for shorter breeding seasons.
Food is an important parameter as it is required to provide nutrition to newly born chicks. Wild birds mainly migrate before breeding season in search of food. Moving to a new place where food is abundant helps wild birds to spread out their population and they can properly feed their young ones.
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If wild birds reside in an area that is an arid habitat or a dry desert, then the appearance of water due to storms or flooding can also initiate breeding season. The plants in such areas also adapt to low water conditions and bloom quickly whenever even little water is available. These plants act as an excellent source of food for these birds. As a result, the wild birds living in the deserts have flexible mating seasons.
Different wild birds require a different period of care from their parents. Some baby birds mature quickly while other birds take a few weeks or months. The initial incubation period for the egg depends on the care required by the baby bird.
The more care required by the bird, the longer will be the incubation period and the earlier will the mating season occur. This long period gives the wild birds enough time to raise their children before the worsening of environmental conditions.
Number of Broods
If multiple broods are raised by birds each year, then generally the breeding season occurs earlier and lasts long so that there is enough time for each brood to be cared for as the eggs are incubated and the chicks mature.
Birds who can handle multiple broods may not always have a second or third brood because of conditions. If the conditions for the survival of the chick are not favorable, then birds do not have later broods. The mortality rate of chicks is also higher in later broods.
The nesting site of the birds can also affect the time when the breeding season will happen. Cavity nesting species of wild birds reuse the nest cavities constructed by other birds that may breed later in the breeding season, this creates more abandoned sites after earlier successful nests.
Wild birds build their own nest for breeding, mate later in the season as there most of the time is spent building the nest. Birds that use already built nests mate earlier in the season and they further use the nest for raising their children.
Breeding season is not only about the procreation of new bird species, but also the ideal time for bird watching or birding. It is the time when birds defend their territories, attract other mates, and are active than before.
Many birding festivals are planned during the spring season to take advantage of the breeding season and migration. Many field trips and tours are organized in this season to the leks and rookeries when bird lovers watch these birds keenly without disturbing them.
Birders who are aware of the signs of the mating season of the birds can enjoy local birds. People with great backyards can also enjoy bird watching by putting birdhouses, nests, and feeders to attract birds to their backyard.
But one important thing that you should keep in mind is that all the necessary steps should be taken to protect breeding birds. Birders should make sure that breeding birds are not disturbed and safeguarded from any kind of threats such as feral cats or other animals.
Survival of the chicks is also as important as the breeding season of the birds. Having the knowledge of the breeding season and how to act as a responsible birder during that time will surely help wild birds to start a new family and will increase the chances of survival of the chicks. Successive breeding seasons depend on the survival of the chicks of the current season, so as a birder you should ensure the best conditions for the wild birds.
Overall, the breeding season of wild birds lasts for a week or a maximum of two weeks. After the breeding period is over one of the parents takes the responsibility of the child by caring for the young and coaxing them through maturation.
The preparations you need to do for the breeding season include setting up bird feeders and birdhouses in your backyard as soon as possible. You can also store brush piles in your yard and take the necessary steps to protect mating birds from predators.
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