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Citation. McKinney, F. 1992. Courtship, pair formation, and signal systems. Pages 214-250 in Batt, B. D. J., et al., Eds. Ecology and Management of Breeding Waterfowl. University of Minnesota Press. [1415 CC]
Introduction. The behavior involved in courtship and pair formation has a special fascination for ornithologists because of the remarkable sounds, postures, and body actions performed by courting birds. Waterfowl have rich repertoires of these courtship "displays," and several of the most spectacular actions have become textbook examples of highly stereotyped social signals. The topic of how waterfowl communicate with one another in situations other than courtship (e.g. territory defense, brood rearing) raises broader issues related to the overall "signal system" characteristic of each species. As well as the important seasonal needs for signaling associated with these reproductive activities, there are also day-to-day requirements for signals, such as those that synchronize taking flight in pairs or family groups and those that enable individuals to compete for resources. Therefore, although signals are vitally important in courtship and pairing, this is only one aspect of the communicative behavior of each species.
Keywords. courtship, pair formation, signal systems, waterfowl