8 Most Romantic Animals of Santa Clara Valley

Humans aren’t the only ones who appreciate a little romance. Santa Clara Valley is home to a vast diversity of wildlife, and some of them really know how to turn up the charm. Feel free to take notes as you read how these fascinating creatures win over their mates! 

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawks live for the show – their mating ritual is basically an aerial tango - involving meeting mid-air and spiraling down together. Like humans, they also win over their partners with delicious, shared meals. 

Red-tailed hawk pair (David Mauk)

Tule elk

Nothing turns heads like a little public display of your elk-cellent stamina and strength. During breeding season in late summer and early fall, male tule elk duel to catch the attention of females.  

CRID - Tule Elk - D-Mauk - 2021-01-13 -4-1
Tule elk bull and cow (David Mauk)

White-tailed kites

Surely fit for a romcom, these raptors = couple goals! This species isn’t only special because of its remarkable comeback -- breeding pairs of white-tailed kites go for long flies together and bond by sharing food with one another mid-air. 

CVAL - White Tailed Kite - D-Mauk - July-22-2018 - 1-1
White-tailed kite - carrying a gift for its sweetheart? (David Mauk)

California tiger salamanders

Queue “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles),” because California tiger salamanders have quite the flare for romance! These critters walk long distances to find breeding areas, on average 1.5 miles each day.  

California Tiger Salamander - iNat - Ken-ichi Ueda - 2
California tiger salamander (Ken-ichi Ueda)

Western fence lizards

They may look small to us humans, but western fence lizards work hard to keep up appearances for their mates. To attract mates, western fence lizards do pushups to show off their strength. Keep up the gainz, little guys! 

RCAN - Western Fence Lizard - D-mauk - May-27-2018 - 1-1
Western fence lizard (David Mauk)

American kestrels

This species appreciates the sentiment behind ‘til death do us part." American kestrel males are monogamous, and they mate with the same partner for life! We're not crying...you're crying! 

CVAL - American Kestrel - DM - 2017-01-16 - 01
Amrican kestrel (David Mauk)


Male tarantulas are willing to sacrifice themselves in the name of love. The tarantula mating ritual isn’t exactly something you might see in a Netflix romcom. To begin, the male approaches a female’s burrow sometime in October. He dances outside of the burrow, creating vibrations to lure the female out. Instead of a romantic “meet-cute,” these spiders begin to fight. If the male can wrestle the female and keep her from attacking, then they mate. 

Mating Tarantulas - R-Obrien - 2021
Tarantulas mating (Rowan O'Brien)

Bay checkerspot butterfly

The Bay checkerspot butterflys' love burns bright, but it does fade fast. These critters are known for their short, romantic flings. This threatened species typically only lives to be 10 days old, so maximizing their summer lovin’ is a critical mission.  

Coyote Ridge - Landscapes - DN - 3-19-16 - 123
Pair of Bay checkerspot butterflies (Derek Neumann)

Protecting species like these is critically important in promoting biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. To learn more about Santa Clara Valley's wildlife and Open Space Authority's work to protect it, click here.

January 30, 2023
For media inquiries contact:

Charlotte Graham

Public Information Officer