Romance in the Wild

Owl on top of a snow mound with a speech bubble that says: love is owl you need!

Let’s face it – dating is complicated! Human courtship rituals often seem strange and confusing, and this also applies to wildlife. Next time you’re wondering if you should wait three days to call, or if you talked too much at dinner, be thankful you don’t have to decipher some of these strange signals.

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air! Let’s take a look at romance in the wild right here in the Credit River Watershed.

Midland Painted Turtle

Beyond being fabulous, the male’s long claws have a purpose. They’re used to stroke the female’s face during courtship.

Spotted Salamander

Did you know spotted salamanders engage in elaborate courtship behaviours underwater? The male nudges the female with his head and then swims tight circles around her. That’s one way to catch the eye of someone special!  

White-tailed Deer

Before mating, does play “hard to get” for a few days by intentionally avoiding their suitor. The buck chases the doe, and she eventually allows him to “catch” her. Talk about mixed signals!


Beavers remain monogamous and mate for life. They live in “homes” made by beaver pairs where they raise their kits. After about two years, they move out of mom and dad’s to find their own way! They seek a mate and can stay happily together for up to 20 years. If one of them passes away, the remaining beaver will seek out another mate to find new love.

Great Blue Herons

Great blue herons have mating displays that look like a complex dance. It includes loud calls, bill snapping, neck stretching, circular flights, twig shaking, and more. Arguments over females are common. Once their “dance” is finished, the male and the female have formed the bond necessary to raise their hatchlings together.

Now that you know a little more about courtship behaviors, you can appreciate the effort that goes into romance for not only humans, but also wildlife.

To learn more about the plants and animals of the Credit River Watershed, see here.

By CVC’s Meagan Ruffini, Marketing and Communications Associate

All photography by CVC’s Jon Clayton

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