The pre–existing trait hypothesis suggests that females evolve a mating preference for an already existing male trait. This hypothesis poses a simple resolution to Darwin's long–standing question of how elaborate, male display traits evolve. The frequently observed convergence of aggressive and courtship displays across a wide array of species provides the only current support for this hypothesis. Here we provide much more detailed supporting evidence from bowerbird skrraa calls used in aggression and courtship. Consistent with the pre–existing trait hypothesis we show that (i) putatively co–opted skrraa calls used in courtship and aggression are homologous, (ii) skrraa calls were used in aggression in bowerbirds before being used in courtship, (iii) historically, intense, aggressive–like courtship calls were present near the time of co-option, and (iv) bower types contemporaneous with co–option emphasize design features that provide females protection from the adverse effects of intense courtship displays. These results, plus evidence for a female preference for males with intense aggressive–like courtship skrraa calls, suggest that aggressive skrraa calls have been co–opted for use in male courtship display.