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Birds of Europe: Nuptial flush

Some bird species not only have a special breeding plumage, but they actually put on their "Sundays' best" for a short period of time while mating with their partners.

This extra attraction can be in the form of short-lived plumage, but more often it comes in the form of blood-infused, possibly warty, facial skin, special colours of the bill and/or special colours of the legs/feet. Even the irises can take on a special appearance for usually just a week or a few weeks.

Amongst European bird species such behaviour is displayed most prominently by cormorants and herons and egrets.

Below we show the species in which we have observed and also photographed such behaviour. This list is not complete! More species will be added here as photos become available.

There is a similar page describing nuptial flushes in Australian species.

Hover your cursor above the thumbnail to see the name of the species.
Click on thumbnail image to go to the page describing the species.

Example: Great Cormorant with nuptial flush (photo courtesy of J. Pires)
[Sesimbra, Setubal, Portugal, February 2018]

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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