The Pecking Order: Dominance Hierarchies in Birds

Looking at how dominance hierarchies form and are maintained within bird species.

March 25, 2022

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The Pecking Order: Dominance Hierarchies in Birds


This episode—which is Number 48—is about the “Pecking Order” in birds. Or, to use the more technical term, dominance hierarchy.

Our focus will be on dominance hierarchies that we see among birds within a single species. White-crowned Sparrows beating up on other White-crowned Sparrows, for example, as opposed to White-crowned Sparrows beating up on another species, like Lincoln’s Sparrow. The latter would be an example of interspecies dominance. But today, we’re talking about intraspecies dominance. Meaning within species.

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Links of Interest

Research Citations

Photos of Some Species Mentioned

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis). Photo by Bernard Spragg/Wikimedia
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). Photo by Cephas/Wikimedia
Pukeko or Australasian Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus). Photo by Richard Taylor/Wikimedia


  • White-throated Sparrow sounds (Xeno Canto recordings XC77875)

This work by Ivan Phillipsen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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