are parrots monogamous?

Do All Parrots Mate for Life?

Parrots are social birds that bond closely with other parrots. Two parrots may refuse to be separated from each other and crave the other’s company. Sometimes this is even seen as monogamous behavior or mating for life. 

Parrots can be monogamous, but they rarely mate for life. Their primary reason for mating is reproduction. Parrots choose a mate and remain loyal for the entire mating season. If unable to reproduce, they find another mate. Once the young have grown, they’ll stay together to raise more chicks or seek out new partners.

Sometimes, a parrot will breed with another paired parrot. However, they’ll remain in the original relationship and allow the other pair to raise their offspring.

Are Parrots Monogamous?

In a technical sense, parrots can be monogamous. Most parrots will closely bond with humans or other parrots and prefer their companionship over all others. These intelligent birds are capable of picking favorites, and this bond may be maintained throughout their lives.

Large parrot species can live for up to 70 or more years. As such, this long-lasting favoritism can seem even more profound to humans. Parrots may always spend more time with their bonded favorite, even if they mate with other parrots. In some cases, parrots will refuse to mate with other parrots if their bonded favorite dies.

However, monogamy is usually viewed by humans as a romantic connection. The closest comparison that parrots have is mating. In this sense, parrots are not strictly loyal to only one mate for life. They can choose new mates for different mating seasons. They may also:

  • Leave one mate in exchange for another if the mate can’t reproduce
  • Mate with other parrots, despite any bond they have with their previous or currently chosen mate
  • Form bonds with creatures they cannot reproduce with, including humans
  • Form multiple bonds with different people and birds, with varying emotional intensities
do parrots pair for life?

Do Parrots Mate For Life?

Parrots don’t always mate for life, but parrots are more loyal to their mates than other animals. In fact, males and females will often stay together after the mating season. During this time, they raise any offspring that they managed to produce. This can be seen as a long-term commitment and even be viewed as monogamy. However, it’s more complicated than that.

Parrots are highly social and very intelligent. Evolution-wise, parrots use their cognitive abilities and social nature as tools to ensure that the species thrives. Unlike many other animals, parrots mate and stay together to focus on raising their young. By doing so, coupled parrots can increase the offspring’s chances of survival.

Both parents look after the chicks until they’re independent. This means that they can go through their most vulnerable stage of life without much risk of dying. Other animals spend little time raising their young. Alternatively, only one parent looks after the offspring. In both cases, the babies die more often and at a much earlier age.

Evolution compensates for this by having the female give birth to many offspring at once. In doing so, some of the brood can survive, and the species can go on. Female parrots produce 2 to 4 eggs per clutch, which is far less than other animals. However, these 2 to 4 eggs are more likely to hatch and reach adulthood because they’re cared for by their parents.

This is why parrots mate and have monogamous tendencies. It’s to ensure that the chicks grow into adulthood with few problems. Now, the way parrots handle monogamy and relationships differ between wild and captive parrots. This is to do with how wild parrots are taught to be socially independent by their parents. In contrast, pet parrots are dependent on the humans that care for them.

Wild Parrots

Once they reach sexual maturity, wild parrots search for a mate. Males will try to impress females by regurgitating food, dancing, and mimicking them. If the female accepts, they’ll become a pair. If the parrots cannot reproduce, they will call the relationship off and look for another partner. After all, their primary goal is to have offspring.

Parrots have feelings and form deep friendships with each other. However, many parrots, especially when young, will leave their chosen mate if nothing comes of their union regarding mating.

A pair that manages to reproduce will stay together until all the chicks become independent. This usually takes a few months. According to the International Journal of Avian Science, males and females take turns feeding, protecting, and teaching their young.

Their focus is entirely on their chicks’ well-being as both parrots make a collaborative effort to ensure that their young survive. Once the offspring are independent, the mated pair have to make a choice:

  • Stay together and to reproduce again
  • Find new mates

Do Parrots Adopt Baby Parrots?

Usually, the parrots will move on to find other mates. However, sometimes parrots will stay together even if they can’t reproduce anymore. They may end up adopting and raising chicks from other parrot couples. After all, the main objective is to further the species.

Do Parrots Cheat On Each Other?

Despite how diligent and loyal parrots are as parents, they can sometimes falter. Paired parrots openly cheat with other paired parrots during mating season.

It’s not uncommon for a male from one pairing to raise the chicks fathered by a male from a second pairing. However, these acts are only for reproduction. The unfaithful parrot always returns to the mate it originally bonded with.

Of course, just because most parrots only mate for one season and reproduce with others doesn’t mean that parrots are incapable of bonding for life. There have been many cases in which wild parrots refused to bond with another parrot after their mate had died.

Domestic Parrots

Domestic parrots are more likely to bond for life than wild parrots. This is usually because pet parrots don’t have as many options. Unlike wild parrots, they don’t have a whole flock full of potential mates.

Likewise, pet parrots are dependent on their owners. A parrot’s life revolves around its flock, regardless of whether it’s wild or captured. However, while a wild parrot focuses on surviving, a captured parrot has all of its needs taken care of by its owner.

Pet parrots tend to form a mate bond with their owner due to imprinting. When a baby chick opens its eyes (at around the 2-week mark), it will imprint on its parents. Here, it will form an instant, loving bond with them.

Do All Parrots Mate for Life?

However, a baby chick that humans raise may imprint on them from the moment it’s born. Here, complications can arise with the parrot’s attraction towards other birds. According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, how parrots are fed and raised in the early stages of their life greatly impacts their behavior. Parrot-raised chicks ended up being less aggressive than those that humans raised.

Behavioral issues in parrots usually stem from the emotional dependency they have on their owner. This dependency can mean that the parrot has mal-imprinted on the human and now considers the human its mate. Some parrots can even become sexually attracted to humans. They will refuse to mate with a bird because of this extreme attraction towards the species that raised it.

How to Get Parrots To Mate for Life

Trying to make two parrots mate for life is like sitting two human strangers together and hoping that they’ll fall in love. Domestic parrots can be picky and territorial. Getting a parrot with the sole hope of mating could backfire.

This is especially true if your parrot believes that you’re its mate as it will see the new bird as a threat. In that scenario, the parrot will become hostile and may attack the new parrot out of jealousy.

There’s little you can do if your parrots don’t want to mate. Hostility between parrots is a problem that is rarely fixed because of how stubborn they can be as a species. If they aren’t hostile towards each other and can be kept in the same space without problems, let them warm up to each other.

With that said, even if you get the parrots to mate, you could run into problems because parrots are possessive. Captured parrots are even more so than wild parrots. If your parrot takes a liking to the new parrot, it may suddenly become hostile towards you, especially if you go near its mate.

Not all parrots mate for life, but domestic parrots are more likely to form life-long bonds. If your parrot has become confused about its mating and friendship bonds, you’ll need to address this problem.