The Nature of Things·Video

Flamingos bust a move to attract a mate

Flamingos use nine distinct dance moves in their courtship display

Flamingos use nine distinct dance moves in their courtship display

To the untrained eye, the flamingo’s courtship dance may look like a series of random movements. But scientists have discovered that these seemingly random movements are actually distinct dance moves. (CBC / Why We Dance)

Every year, thousands of flamingos arrive in Camargue, France. They're gathering to choose a mate – each flamingo is looking for a partner that's just as good a dancer as they are. 

To the untrained eye, the flamingo's courtship dance may look like a series of random movements. But scientists have discovered that these seemingly random movements are actually distinct dance moves. 

"There are nine different postures during the courtship display," says behavioural ecologist Arnaud Béche in Why We Dance, a documentary from The Nature of Things.

In this video, flamingos display some of their best moves, including head flagging, wing salute, inverted wing salute and wing leg stretch. 

The different dance moves flamingos use to attract a mate | Why We Dance

10 months ago
Duration 1:08
Both male and female flamingos dance. They search for a partner who is an equally good dancer.

"From these postures, there are more than 100 possible transitions between the postures. By showing that they are able to do this very complex dance, [flamingos advertise] that they are good quality individuals…for  breeding," says Arnaud. 


Why We Dance investigates how, and why, living things express themselves through movement and rhythm.

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