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Ethological Studies of the Budgerigar (Melopsittacus Undulatus): Non-Reproductive Behavior

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Melopsittacus undulatus, a member of the parrot family Psittacidae, sub-family Psittacinae, is a colonial nomadic species inhabiting the dry grasslands of Australia. Only domesticated strains were studied and information concerning general biology is included. Non-reproductive behavior (maintenance and agonistic activities) are described and analysed with respect to function, causation and biological significance. Budgerigars perform a maintenance activity (scratching the lateral crissum) never reported for any other species of bird. Most maintenance activities closely parallel those of another parrot genus Agapornis. Budgerigars perform few stereotyped agonistic behaviors. This may be correlated with the relatively little physical injury involved in settling disputes by overt fights involving bills and occasionally feet. Females seem generally more aggressive than males, however sex differences in agonistic behavior seem of a quantitative nature only. Feather postures of the crown and throat are described and attempts made to correlate these with underlying agonistic motivations. Data from objective "ranking" of agonistic behaviors indicate that functions appear to parallel causation.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

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