Humans are not the only ones who benefit from monogamous relationships. There are many species in the animal kingdom that mimic monogamous mating behavior as well.
This might make one wonder if there are any similar traits in the species of birds, especially the most common avian pet – parrot.
So, do they mate for life? This answer is a tricky one since the definition of monogamy is not so morally clear cut as us humans might have. Sometimes they mate for one season, sometimes they mate for life – but they can be cheating.
Although you might feel awkward to read this, parrots can consider you more than just friends. As you continue reading, we will tell you how you are sending the wrong signals to your parrot that is unintentionally leading them on.
You wouldn’t want to have that conversation and break up with your parrot, would you?
The meaning of monogamy is restricted to parenthood
When the mating season comes, parrots find themselves a mate with their respective mating rituals. Once a pair is set, they mate to reproduce. Once their offspring gets out of the egg, they become responsible parents.
Both male and female parrot share the equal brunt of raising their young. But that’s not all.
Parrots have a tribe system. They would remain with their own social group till they are not ostracized. When it comes to monogamy as sexual partners, they are hardly faithful. But they follow a system called social monogamy.
This means that the partners they choose will always be their partner for either all mating season or just one. Now, let’s try to break it down a little further.
Cheating on a spouse is an open secret
This social monogamy system only helps in child-rearing. The partner they choose will remain their partner until their young become independent. Or they can choose to rear more children with them, but there is no guarantee that the child will be theirs.
There can be eggs from a different partner in a nest. The male parrot of one couple could be mating with another female parrot from another couple. She could be bearing their young, but the offspring would be reared with another father.
This is why monogamy is only restricted to parenthood.
They have an impartial attitude even to adoptive young ones
There can be times when a couple might be monogamous – both sexually and socially, but could end up rearing kids of another couple. Some leave their eggs in another bird’s nest to avoid responsibility. This is called brood parasitism.
The couple hardly ever rejects a young and takes care of it as their own. So, there is no way to tell if all the eggs have the same DNA matching with their parents or either of their parents.
Mating behavior of parrots in captivity
Parrots in captivity have a slightly different mating behavior than parrots in the wild. They are dependent on you to understand social cues.
Since they are intelligent creatures, they pick up on their social cues pretty fast. But their innate mating behavior might only slightly alter but not fully change.
When you have only one parrot as a pet, they might start considering you as a mate. This doesn’t happen all of a sudden. They might be considering you as a buddy – until you touch their ‘mate only’ zone.
Parrots have a few zones reserved only for their mates. Touching, preening, and cuddling are restricted to mates only. In some parrots, touching anywhere apart from head or neck could send off signals of interest.
They might get sexually stimulated by your touch. Don’t become part of the problem.
Their sexual frustration is a man-made problem
Parrots in the wild do not display sexual frustration as birds in captivity do. Parrots in the wild can mate whenever they want and with whomever they want. This is not the same case with a single parrot in captivity.
On top of it, when you don’t revert to their feelings, you would make them even more frustrated. For example, if your parrot is regurgitating for you, this means that your parrot sees you as a its partner. Since you are not a bird, you can’t give your parrot what he or she needs.
That frustrates your parrot! We highly recommend reading our following articles in this regard:
- Your parrot is regurgitating on you? Why this needs to stop!
- 9 Reasons to not leave your parrot alone!
The prospect of getting them a new partner
Parrots can develop behavioral disorders in captivity. They need a lot of social activity with humans to feel less anxious. When you get them a partner, they feel a lot less anxious than a single parrot. Read our article on why parrots should always be kept in pairs to learn more!
Can you afford to have two parrots? There are a lot of factors – from money to management and even the young that come out of this association, that comes into play.
Deterring their sexual advances towards you during mating season
In case you cannot afford to have two parrots or more in your household, you can still contain a lot of their sexual frustration. Sometimes you might want to deter your parrot from mating with another parrot (because you cannot neuter them).
This is how you can do it:
- Do not sexually stimulate them by touching them anywhere except for their head and neck. Keep touching restricted to only the head and neck
- Put them to bed as early as 5 pm and let them have enough sunlight during the day. It keeps their hormones balanced during mating season
- Keep away any toy that they ‘mate’ with. They could be doing it with perches, cups, trays or any other inanimate object. Change them and discard their ‘mates’
- Do not let them fly off to dark places. They might go on making a nest and lay eggs in it
- Keep the bird in heat away from other birds in a separate cage
- Aim for stimulating their mind with toys that they wouldn’t ‘mate’ with. A mentally stimulated parrot is a happy parrot!
- You can go for hormone injections to suppress their mating behavior. Ask your vet about it.
This way you can keep their behavior in check and ward off any chances of them considering you as a mate or get to sexually frustration. They generally mature after a dozen of mating season. When they mature, they become calmer and their personality might also change a little.
Which other birds are non-monogamous? Saltmarsh Sparrow, Red-winged blackbird, Wild turkey, Bobolink, and Red-necked phalarope are some of the examples of polygamous birds. They are not particularly in social monogamy as much as birds from other species are.
Which other birds are monogamous in nature? Black vultures, Bald eagles, Laysan albatross, Mute swan, Whooping crane, Atlantic puffin, and California condor are some of the other popular monogamous bird species. These also believe in social monogamy and some would even mate with one partner for life.
What do parrots do when their mate dies? Parrots mourn and grieve over their mate’s loss. Some would even starve themselves to death. This behavior is particularly observed in captive birds, not in wild. You can get them another mate so that they can be pulled out of depression.