What are the factors determining hiearchy in a colony of Monk parakeets?

September 16th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
What are the factors determining hiearchy in a colony of Monk parakeets?

What shall we do to be successful in parrots breeding? Firstly, we need to have a couple, of course. A spacious aviary, nestbox and high quality diet is also necessary. But that’s not all, we forgot about one thing, maybe the most important one – birds need to be happy and feel comfortably. Just as in people, stress may affect parrots life a lot. When we visit some big breeding facilities then it’s quite obvious that enrichment is underestimated issue in many of them.

Mental health of our birds is so the key factor to be successful in their breeding and that’s why we should pay attention to research news in this field. Just a few days ago a prestige journal PLOS published an article about new findings in behaviour of the Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus). The first author of this paper is Elizabeth A. Hobson who spent considerable effort with studying of this and other parrot species sociality.



Parrots use knowledge to assess their social rank

We know that in social animals hiearchy plays an important role in their life. But what are the factors determining which animal is dominant and which one is submissive? And how parrots perceive their rank in society?

“Parakeets appear to be able to connect the dots in their groups, remembering chains of aggression, so if A fights B, then watches how B fights C and how C fights D and how D fights E, then A will use this knowledge to adjust how it interacts with E based on all of the fights in between,“ said Elizabeth Hobson.



Monk Parakeets flock.



According to findings of this study, monk parakeets don’t assess their social rank by body size of other animals but by observing of other fights. The hiearchy is not obvious immediately but approximately a week after the group is established.

Dr Hobson also described how the experiment was made:

„We formed two independent groups (N = 21 and 19) and observed aggressive events during novel group formation. Prior to our study, parakeets were housed in smaller cages while some were in visual contact, direct physical contact between individuals in different cages was not possible. Each captive group was released sequentially into a 2025 m2 semi-natural outdoor flight pen and observed over the course of 24 days by 1–4 observers. We recorded data on aggressive behaviour.“


Title photo: (c) Cláudio Dias Timm. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


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