Love is in the air, and not just for humans! Explore the courtship, grooming and everyday behaviors of some iconic New Jersey wildlife. Don’t forget to take notes, as these species know the secret to lasting relationships.
Crimson male cardinals are not only perpetually suited up in the color of passion, but they are also on to what really warms the heart of their beloved: food and gifts! Cardinals, which pair up for life, engage in mate feeding as part of their quest for (and maintenance of) a companion.
Dancing cheek to cheek is a bobcat-endorsed love strategy—they rub their faces on potential mates (as well as offspring) to signal “be mine!”
There is a reason that horseshoe crabs have been around for 300 million years. They know the value of a moonlit stroll on the beach!
Studies show that hugging increases bonding for people—and maybe also for bears? Black bears hug each other as cubs when playing, and when adults as part of the courtship ritual.
Wisdom from woodcocks: a little effort goes a long way when it comes to impressing a mate. Males of this species are true winged wooers, staging an elaborate show of singing, aerial acrobatics and feather ruffling in pursuit of their love interest.
AMERICAN WOODCOCK Beginning in late March, males seek out woodland openings and clearings at dawn and dusk, when light levels are just right, to sing and display for females for about one hour.
RED FOX Courtship begins in the winter, where the foxes hunt together, play, and generally chase each other around. © Robert Peal
RED FOX PUPS The pups stay in the den until they are about 4 to 5 weeks of age. © Ray Lee
Red fox pairs are lifelong partners, and even when mating season is over they meet to socialize and share food. Because no matter how long you’ve been together, making time for a one-on-one dinner is always a good way to reconnect.
Good grooming habits are essential for making the right impression. River otters are fastidious about their coats, maintaining their natty appearance by rolling in snow, mud or vegetation.
Leave the kids at home for your romantic date. Take it from paired-for-life osprey parents who let chicks rest in the nest while they fly off to hunt—the noisy calls, fishy demands, and spontaneous wing-spreading of your cute, but ungainly, offspring does nothing to enhance the mood.