Home » Do All Parrots Mate for Life? (Monogamy in Psittaciformes)
are parrots monogamous?

Do All Parrots Mate for Life? (Monogamy in Psittaciformes)

(Last Updated On: July 17, 2023)

Parrots (Psittaciformes) bond closely together. Two parrots may refuse to be separated and crave each other’s company. Sometimes, humans see this as monogamous behavior or mating for life.

Parrots can be monogamous but rarely mate for life, as their primary motivation is reproduction.

They select a mate and remain loyal for the mating season. If unable to reproduce, they’ll find another partner. Once the young have grown, they’ll stay together to raise more chicks or find new partners.

Sometimes, a parrot will breed with another paired parrot yet remain in the original relationship, allowing the other pair to raise their offspring.

Are Parrots Monogamous?

Most parrots bond closely with one bird and prefer its companionship over all others.

These intelligent birds can select favorites, and this bond may be maintained throughout their lifetime. Parrots are long-lived birds, making this favoritism even more profound to humans.

Parrots may always spend more time with their bonded favorite, even if they mate with other parrots. Sometimes, they’ll refuse to mate with other parrots if their bonded favorite dies.

Humans usually perceive monogamy as a romantic connection.

The closest comparison that parrots have is reproduction. In this sense, parrots aren’t strictly loyal to only one mate for life, sometimes choosing 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 their bond with their previous or current mate.
  • Form bonds with animals they can’t reproduce with, including bonded humans.
  • Form bonds with different people and birds, with varying emotional intensities.

Do Parrots Mate For Life?

Parrots don’t always mate for life but are more loyal to their partners than most animals.

Males and females often stay together after the mating season. During this time, they raise their young. This could be seen as a long-term commitment and monogamy.

Parrots are social and intelligent animals. Evolution-wise, parrots use their cognitive abilities and social nature as tools to ensure their species thrives.

Parrots mate and stay together to focus on raising their young. By doing so, coupled parrots can increase their offspring’s chances of survival.

Both parents look after their chicks until they’re independent, which means they can go through their most vulnerable stage of life with less risk of dying.

Many animals spend little time raising their young. Alternatively, only one parent looks after the offspring. In both cases, the babies die more often and much earlier.

Evolution compensates because the female lays more eggs or gives birth to more babies. In doing so, a small percentage can survive, enabling the species to continue.

Most female parrots produce 2-4 eggs per clutch. This is less than most other animals, but their eggs are more likely to hatch and reach adulthood because they’re cared for by their parents.

Parrots mate and have monogamous tendencies, so most chicks reach adulthood.

The way parrots handle monogamy and relationships differ between wild and captive parrots. Wild parrots are taught by their parents to be socially independent, while pet parrots rely on humans.

do parrots pair for life?

Wild Parrots

Once they reach sexual maturity, wild parrots search for a mate. Males will attempt to impress females with their colorful plumage, singing and dancing ability, and regurgitating food.

If the female accepts the male, they’ll become a pair. If the parrots can’t reproduce, the relationship will end, and they’ll seek new partners. After all, their sole objective is to produce offspring.

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

If a pair reproduces successfully, they’ll stay together until the chicks become independent. According to the International Journal of Avian Science, males and females feed, protect, and teach their young.

They focus on their chicks’ well-being as both collaborate to ensure their young survive. Once the offspring are independent, the pair will decide whether to stay together and reproduce or find new mates.

Do Parrots Adopt Baby Parrots?

Sometimes, parrots stay together even if they can’t reproduce anymore. They may adopt and raise chicks from other parrot couples because (as stated) the main objective is to further the species.

Do Parrots Cheat On Each Other?

Although parrots are diligent and loyal parrots, they can sometimes falter. Paired parrots openly ‘cheat’ with other paired parrots during the mating season, especially Eclectus parrots.

It’s common 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, as the unfaithful parrot always returns to its original mate.

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 are many cases where wild parrots refused to bond with another parrot after their mate died, experiencing considerable grief.

Do All Parrots Mate for Life?

Domesticated Parrots

Domestic parrots are likelier to bond for life than wild parrots because pet parrots don’t have as many options. Unlike wild parrots, they don’t have a flock 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 captive. However, while a wild parrot focuses on surviving, a captive parrot has all of its needs met by its owner.

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

However, a baby chick humans raise may imprint on them when born. Here, complications can arise with the parrot’s attraction toward other birds.

According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, how parrots are fed and raised in their early life stages impacts their behavior. Parrot-raised chicks are less aggressive than human-raised chicks.

Parrots’ behavioral issues usually stem from their emotional dependency on their owner. This dependency could mean a parrot has mal-imprinted on a human and considers them its mate.

Some parrots can even become sexually attracted to humans, refusing to mate with a bird due to this unnatural attraction toward the species that raised it.

How To Get Parrots To Mate for Life

Trying to get two parrots to mate for life is like sitting two human strangers together and hoping they’ll fall in love. Parrots are very selective about their mates.

Getting a parrot with the sole hope of mating could backfire, especially if it believes you’re its mate. In that scenario, the parrot will become hostile, attacking the new parrot out of jealousy.

You can do little if the parrots don’t want to mate. Hostility between birds is a problem that’s rarely resolved because psittacines are a stubborn species that recall how they feel.

If the pair aren’t hostile, give them time to adjust to each other. However, even if you get the parrots to mate, you could face problems because they’re emotional, possessive animals.

If a parrot likes the new parrot, it may become hostile toward you, especially if you go near its mate.

Not all parrots mate for life, but captive parrots are likelier to form life-long bonds, not least because no other birds are available. This would apply even if one of the birds is infertile or in poor health.