The red-crested korhaan in the video above pulls out all the stops to impress a prospective mate. His trademark crest of red feathers gets puffed out to its fullest potential as he prances and circles around her to the beat of his own metronomic call. He taps, he hops, he shuffles sideways and backward. All of it is in vain: She won’t even look at him. By the end, he retreats to a standstill, seeming almost sheepish in his defeat.
For what it’s worth, our hapless suitor didn’t throw out the tried-and-true mating script in favor of some experimental choreography. His song and dance routine is the tried-and-true mating script for red-crested korhaans—and there are videos of others performing it with more successful outcomes. (Though even then, the females’ tolerance could hardly be called enthusiasm.)
This ill-fated mating display was captured in South Africa by a tour guide named Alan Fogarty. He and his tour group were on their way back from what had already been a very fruitful morning safari: They’d spotted Casper, Kruger National Park’s famous white lion. Fogarty heard a call that he recognized as a male red-crested korhaan’s and identified the caller nearby.
It’s unclear why the female korhaan didn’t appreciate the show—maybe she missed the first act. Typically, a male korhaan begins his mating ritual by launching himself into the air then tumbling straight down, almost like he’s been shot. Only at the last moment does he unfurl his wings for a smooth landing. Better luck next time, bird.