Parrots (psittacines) bond closely together. Two parrots may refuse to be separated and crave the 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. Parrots select a mate and remain loyal for the mating season. If unable to reproduce, they’ll find another mate. 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 and allow the other pair to raise their offspring.
Are Parrots Monogamous?
Most parrots bond closely with a specific 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, so this favoritism might 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 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 creatures they can’t reproduce with, including bonded humans.
- Form multiple bonds with different people and birds, with varying emotional intensities.
Do Parrots Mate For Life?
Parrots don’t always mate for life, but parrots are more loyal to their mates than other animals.
Males and females will often stay together after the mating season. During this time, they raise any offspring they produce. This can be seen as a long-term commitment and even as monogamy.
Parrots are social and intelligent animals. 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 their offspring’s chances of survival.
Both parents look after the chicks until they’re independent, which means they can go through their most vulnerable stage of life without much risk of dying.
Many 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 much earlier.
Evolution compensates for this by having the female give birth to many offspring. In doing so, some of the brood can survive, and the species can continue.
However, 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 that any chicks reach adulthood.
The way parrots handle monogamy and relationships differ between wild and captive parrots. Wild parrots are taught to be socially independent by their parents, while pet parrots depend on humans to meet their care requirements.
Once they reach sexual maturity, wild parrots search for a mate. Males will try to impress females with their vibrant plumage, singing 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 look for 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, will 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, which usually takes several months. According to the International Journal of Avian Science, males and females feed, protect, and teach 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 will decide whether to remain 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 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, as the unfaithful parrot always returns to the mate with whom it originally bonded.
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.
Domestic parrots are more likely 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 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 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 it’s 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 the early stages of their life greatly 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 can mean that the parrot has mal-imprinted on the human and now considers the human its mate.
Unfortunately, some parrots can even become sexually attracted to humans, refusing to mate with a bird due to this misguided attraction toward 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 extremely selective and territorial.
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.
There’s not much you can do if your parrots don’t want to mate. Hostility between parrots is a problem that’s rarely resolved because psittacines are a stubborn species.
If the pair aren’t hostile, give them time to warm up to each other. However, even if you get the parrots to mate, you could run into problems because parrots are possessive animals. If your parrot takes a liking to the new parrot, it may suddenly become hostile toward 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, they need to be addressed.