The Fascinating Mating Ritual Of The Grand Staircase

Large-scale males consume a toxic substance that eliminates parasites and fights infections so that they can look healthier and attract females.
The fascinating mating ritual of the grand staircase

The staircase is a type of bird that includes several species with a very robust appearance, and they thrive on the Iberian Peninsula. This bird family has once again attracted the attention of the scientific community due to its strange mating rituals.

Researchers have discovered that  large-scale males self-medicate with small doses of a toxic substance to attract females. This is just one of the interesting elements that we want to share in this article.

Interesting facts about the grand staircase

The grand staircase is the world’s heaviest flying bird

Today, the  grand staircase is the heaviest flying bird we know. It is also the most robust species in Europe. It is also worth pointing out that the grand staircase has a very obvious gender deformism, and that one can easily distinguish between males and females. In some species, the male can be 3-4 times as large as the female.

These birds also differ markedly when it comes to weight and how robust they look. The females rarely exceed 6 kg, while the males can weigh up to 14 kg in adulthood.

Spain is the “paradise” of the grand staircase

Although they can be seen all over Europe  , it is estimated that around half of the population lives in Spain. The development of agriculture and how easy it is to adapt to places where humans live has facilitated its spread.

A grand staircase in the grass

At the time of writing, they are concentrated in Spanish agriculture, mainly in the south and in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula. Thanks to this, it is common to see them fly across the sky, especially when in the field. However, some species are at risk of extinction due to hunting.

Their silence defines them more than their song

Unlike most birds, which are identified by their song, the grand staircase is characteristically quiet. Its behavior is discreet and quiet, even during the mating season. For this reason, amateurs and researchers call it “the silent bird”. They are also easily frightened and always on the alert. In this way, they can quickly identify predators and escape, making it difficult to approach them in the wild. They usually flee as soon as they hear a sound.

Large-scale males self-medicate to attract females

Males consume small amounts of two beetle species that contain a toxic substance called  chanteridin However, their bodies have developed a form of tolerance, which allows them to consume the substance in small amounts to take advantage of its medicinal benefits.

According to researchers, the males do this for two reasons. They eat the potentially toxic substance to mate,  but also to eliminate parasites and infections in the body.

Large stairs in the field

In fact, it is likely that these two reasons are interconnected. When a male has no parasites or diseases, he looks better and healthier. It increases the chance of attracting a female.

The females often also consume beetles, but the males select the two species with the highest content of chanteridin. This strange way of attracting females can be seen in very few species in the animal kingdom. For this reason, the grand staircase has once again aroused the interest of researchers.

Their bare tails are connected to the self-medication

Large stairs have bare tails and the males are surrounded by white feathers. Experts have pointed out that this is probably to attract females. How is that possible?

When a male approaches  , the female first inspects his buttocks before accepting his approaches. She does this to ensure that he is in good health and has no parasites, so that she mates with a healthy, lively partner.

Therefore, it is possible that its tolerance to chanteridin is also linked to the morphological aspects of the male. But his bare buttocks, the male can “brag” about his good health and resilience, so that the females choose him.

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