The male peacock does a strange thing. He lets out a loud honk right at the moment before copulation. The female peacock is already ready to do the deed, so why does the male feel the need to expend so much energy to make such as powerful squawk?
Until now, scientists have never been able to figure out why he does it.
Apparently, the male peacock is already thinking about getting future conquests right before he's about to mate with his current peahen.
Biologist Jessica Yorzinski and her team believes the loud honking noise the male peacock emits right before copulation serves as an attempt to attract other females by showing off his ability to seduce one female.
To test out their theory, Yorzinski and her colleagues recorded this "love honk" and played it over loudspeakers for a group of peahens. And like they predicted, the female peahens started approaching the honking speaker significantly more often than another control speaker from which researchers played some other sound or no sound at all.
"Why they're attracted to these calls and what it tells them -- these are still open questions," Yorzinski said in a statement. However, she added that the findings held true for both captive and wild female peacocks.
She explained that announcing the fact that he's getting a girl could help a male peacock attract additional mates.
The latest study published in the journal Behavior supports previous findings that females in other species tend to flock toward popular mates.
"It's like someone's already vouched for him. If he's good enough for one girl, then he might be good enough for another girl, too," Yorzinski said.
However, researchers said that the male peacock's dating boost doesn't come without risks like disclosing his whereabouts to potential predators.
Researchers also wonder why male peacocks don't just fake it. If distant females are attracted to a mating male's triumphant love honks, then why don't male peacocks boost their mating rate by giving the impression to eavesdropping females that they're more successful than they actually are?
"One of the biggest unanswered questions is why males don't fake it," Yorzinski said. "I've heard males making false calls when there's no mate in sight, so there definitely is some level of cheating going on. Figuring out why they don't do it more often would be the key."