The paradox of age-related dominance in brown-headed cowbirds ( Molothrus ater).

P. J. Weatherhead, K. L. Teather

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Yearling males are apparently as successful at acquiring mates as adult males. Five mixed-age (adult and yearling) groups of 9 or 10 male brown-headed cowbirds were maintained. Dominance hierarchies poved to be linear and stable. In 2 of the 5 groups all adult males were dominant to all yearlings, with less clear-cut age differences in the remaining groups. Adults were dominant in 54 of the 66 dyads consisting of an adult and a yearling in which one individual won a significant proportion of their interactions. Although adults were significantly heavier and larger than yearlings, weight and size contributed little to the outcome of dominance interactions. Dominance status in one social arena may be a poor predictor of social status in another for brown-headed cowbirds. Results do not explain why young male cowbirds are successful in competing for mates.-from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2354-2357
Number of pages4
JournalCanadian journal of zoology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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