The multispecies social group – A nest of information

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Plurispecific = Several species. Margaux Deman tells us about the cohabitation between individuals, different species …

Adopting a congener for your parrot is one of the essential parameters for its development in captivity.
Very regularly, the enthusiasts that we are are not satisfied with just one other companion, but with several others. I am often asked if all species can coexist together and to what extent we must “trust” birds when they do. live in a heterogeneous community.

Before wanting to support several individuals of different species, it is essential to have a sufficiently large and well-appointed common space.
A well thought out space is the guarantee of a problem-free cohabitation. This subject has already been the subject of a previous article, but as a reminder here is what must be respected to limit conflicts:

– Provide sufficient water and feeding points.

– Install numerous perches to limit spatial competition and territoriality.

– Do not install nests.

– Set up fallback areas and breeze views.

1) Can we have species of different sizes coexist?

As far as is reasonable, this is still possible if compatible birds are kept together.
By compatible is meant “having similar needs and communication tools”.
A Gabonese gray can thus easily coexist with a dinghy, although much smaller, but not reasonably with a conure or a cockatiel. Moreover, some species pose more problems in a heterogeneous group than others. For example, all species commonly referred to as ” conures Are characterized by a highly territorial and quarrelsome temperament.
Conures have absolutely no fear of conflict with a much larger parrot and do not hesitate to launch an assault to defend a perch or a partner.
They thus put themselves in danger if their adversary is not very accommodating in his reactions, which is the case of African species (gray from Gabon and other poicephalus).

Small species like Australian parakeets, much less quarrelsome than conures, can still suffer from a fatal peck, simply inadvertently.
The difference in size and pressure force of the nozzle is not forgiving!

Paradoxically, some small-sized species can also cause damage to birds of equivalent or larger size.
Caiques for example or mesh parrots (close cousins ​​of caiques) can seriously injure or even kill another bird for a simple conflict of territory. These species, as well as the conures, should therefore ideally not be placed with other species. One day or the next you may have a bad surprise!
As young birds are more accommodating, the examples of successful cohabitation with them are not representative.

2) Can we make all individuals cohabit according to their experience?

The socialization of the young parrot has a considerable impact on its ability to integrate and coexist within a social group.

Individuals who have grown up without congener the first months to the first years of their life regularly develop an exacerbated aggressiveness. So that, rather than using preventive attitudes in order to avoid a confrontation, they go directly to the act without taking tweezers.
These particular cases are not hopeless cases but must have a social group of birds of the same size that can stand up to them, even * put them in their place *.

These hyper aggressive birds have learned to be so, they can then re-learn to communicate normally and adopt more moderate reactions.

What better than a group of parrots for this learning?

3) Can very different species coexist?

It is evident that the community life of closely related species, belonging to the same genus (macaw, amazona, aratinga, pyrrhura, pionus, poicephalus, agapornis, cacatua, psittacula…) Is much easier than trying to coexist with fundamentally opposed species.
Difficult is not impossible, especially if it is young birds that grow and evolve together.
Despite everything, cohabitation with older individuals also remains possible by taking care to integrate the birds in a very gradual and intelligent way (in particular by improving the layout of the common space). Thus, in our current community aviary, we let’s coexist:
4 macaws (chloroptera, ararauna, blue throat and Lafresnaye).
3 Australian cockatoos (naked eye, rosalbin and Banks).

1 blue-fronted Amazon.

1 gray from Gabon.

2 youyous from Senegal.

1 garden parrot.

It is interesting to note, without too much surprise, that the different birds are grouped together by genus or by genetically related species. So the three cockatoos interact more with each other than with other birds. Macaws only interact with each other. The Gabonese gray is more interested in ulueus and garden parrot, while he grew up with the Amazon.

No accident is to be deplored despite the diversity and differences in sizes.

4) How normal are conflicts within a group?

Conflicts are inevitable and are a natural part of the dynamics of a group. Birds can chase, jostle, threaten and sometimes even pull their feathers in the worst case.
These attitudes, sometimes impressive when accompanied by cries, can be observed in captivity as well as in the wild. Parrots are not always tender and do not seem to feel remorse or pity when they prey on another.
You must absolutely avoid getting involved and intervening, except in cases of extreme emergency, if the victim is not able to escape, for example. unnatural if :

– Only one bird of the group is regularly targeted (the scapegoat).

– We observe incessant chases (of several minutes).

– There are regular wounds on one or more birds.

– There is a serious injury.

If one of these situations is observed in you, then it will be necessary to isolate the aggressive individual (s), to retry a cohabitation after a new arrangement of the environment, to modify the social group (by removing or adding other individuals), or choose to keep them separate from the rest of the group.

Either way, living in a multispecies group brings considerable benefit to birds in captivity. Interactions, both positive and negative, help stimulate and fulfill the individual on a social level.

Finally, the species can model behaviors on each other to the point that we end up noting a certain homogenization of all the habits and preferences of the birds that make up the group. The peculiarities specific to the species then gradually fade.

Reference

Margaux Deman, July 2019, Le groupe plurispécifique, article available online: https://fr.tipeee.com/parole-de-plume/news/63502, consulted on June 13, 2021

An information nest © – June 2021

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