A fascinating new study has found that whooping cranes partner up with their childhood sweethearts.
A team of researchers that were led by the University of Georgia in Athens tracked a group of them, one of the rarest North American birds, that was reintroduced to the eastern US in 2001, the Daily Mail reported.
Loud calls, jumping and flapping their wings were part of their courtship rituals.
62% of the 58 breeding pairs monitored began mingling with each other one year before they even mated, the study found. They also found 26% struck a friendship two years before they started breeding.
"Almost two thirds of breeding pairs get together before at least one of them is sexually mature,” a report by Daily Mail stated.
Finding it hard to find a mate each breeding season, better success of mating and being each other's protection from predators could be some of the reasons for this lifestyle.
Experts feel the findings suggest there are benefits of long-term monogamous relationships for birds.
"Our study shows that if you’re associating for such a long time without breeding, there are probably benefits outside of just breeding success," Claire Teitelbaum, the study's lead author told New Scientist.
The findings were originally published in the journal Animal Behaviour.