Fattening pigeons by feeding them bread in the park could make them more aggressive, as heavier birds are found to be the most dominant, according to studies
- The researchers examined a flock of 17 homing pigeons with 8 males and 9 females
- When they gave weight to some pigeons, they became more aggressive
- When the weights were removed from the pigeons, they came back in line
Giving pigeons in the park bread could make them more aggressive, according to a new study that found that heavier birds are the most dominant.
A team from the University of London examined dominance in the pigeon society and examined which ones had better access to resources such as food and companions.
They found that heavy birds dominated in groups of pigeons and if a light bird were “fattened” it would quickly climb the rows and become dominant.
"It is possible that the additional mass made them feel in a better physiological state and were therefore more willing to choose a fight," said the research team.
Giving pigeons in the park bread could make them more aggressive, according to a new study that found that heavier birds are the most dominant
Many animals live and travel in groups, which enables them to be more vigilant and recognize predators – but individual personality traits can lead to conflicts.
As a result, some people within a group emerge as dominance, and this has been observed across the animal kingdom, the team said.
This “dominance hierarchy” within a group offers advantages – the team claims that it reduces the severity and frequency of physical conflicts with other groups.
By reducing the time spent on these encounters, time can be invested in other important behaviors such as maintenance, vigilance, and foraging.
Previous studies have linked linear hierarchies – that is, an order of dominance – with parameters such as body mass and size.
The order is stable or unstable and varies over time. The London researchers found that the size of pigeons really does matter.
The bigger the bird, the more aggressive they are likely to be and the more aggressive the birds become within a group.
To determine this, the team examined 17 homing pigeons kept at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, Hertfordshire – eight men and nine women.
They were all six years old and have been detained since they were 1 year old. They were given regular access to food and water and no more birds were added to the group.
The birds were examined at three points in their yearly cycle for three years, and after 19 months the nine birds became heavier at the end of the pecking order.
The team added artificial weights to the birds' backs – which were used to putting artificial objects on their bodies.
Before the additional weights were added, the dominance hierarchy among the birds was stable, but this changed dramatically at the next measurement session.
Those with & # 39; additional bulk & # 39; became noticeably more dominant and aggressive – which increased their rank in the group.
It was the male birds that became most aggressive when they "got bigger", with one becoming up to 750 percent more aggressive, according to researchers.
The experiment actually led to a general increase in the herd's aggressiveness and the number of aggressive encounters.
They found that heavy birds dominated in groups of pigeons and if a light bird were “fattened” it would quickly climb the rows and become dominant
When the "extra weights" were removed from the birds, the original hierarchy – from before the experiment – returned and the previously weighted birds returned to a line – indicating that there was no transfer or memory of the effects.
"There is still no clear pattern of why body mass is such a strong determinant of dominance in some species but not in others," the authors said.
& # 39; It is possible that the body mass correlates significantly with the dominance in species in which secondary sexual ornaments are less pronounced and the signal transmission is therefore less clear.
"In such cases, body mass can become a more important indicator of fitness."
The study shows that aggressive properties can be changed and enhanced by “feeding” birds. Therefore, pigeons that compete for breadcrumbs in cities could be more aggressive if people omit food for them.
The results were published in the journal Biology Letters.