Saturday, July 25, 2015

We Must Maintain Order

Birds take pecking order to an extreme. Ask anyone who owns chickens. "Pecking order" is a term describing the hierarchy of dominance in a grouping, which is particularly conspicuous among birds. We see it at our bird feeder all the time where there is a certain order of birds which will claim priority over other birds when they appear. The behavior crosses species lines. In other words, a bird of one species will bump a bird of another species as well as it's own kind. Often, it has to do with size, with larger birds bumping smaller ones off.

The Osprey entering into this branch where two siblings are perched is using a technique I call 'hazing' in an attempt to dislodge one of it's siblings and take it's spot. It is kind of like a game of chicken. They will fly in as though the spot is empty and pretend they are going to land to see if they can induce the bird already in the spot to fly. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. The first image is amusing if you look at their eyes as I can just imagine the bird on the left saying to the other, "Don't let him in, Allen."

And, they didn't let the sibling land. The "intruder" returned to the nestbox and sat there alone. This behavior doesn't seem very polite but it seems to be hardwired into their genes. Maybe this kind of behavior helps to disperse the species over a wider area resulting in less chance of starvation due to overcrowding.

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