Feeding pigeons bread could be making them more aggressive and dominant

Fattening up pigeons by feeding them bread in the park could make them more aggressive because heavier birds are the most dominant, study finds Researchers studied a flock of 17 homing pigeons with 8 males and 9 females When 'adding weight' to some of the pigeons they became more aggressive  When the weights were removed from the pigeons they 'stepped back' into line 

By Ryan Morrison For Mailonline

Published: 00:00 BST, 5 August 2020 | Updated: 00:00 BST, 5 August 2020

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Giving pigeons in the park bread could be making them more aggressive, according to a new study that found heavier birds were the most dominant.

A team from the University of London examined dominance in pigeon society and looked at which had better access to resources such as food and mates. 

They found that heavy birds dominated in pigeon groups and if a light bird was 'fattened up' it would be quickly climb the ranks and become dominant.   

'It’s possible the added mass made them feel in better physiological condition, and more willing, therefore, to pick a fight,' according to the research team. 

Giving pigeons in the park bread could be making them more aggressive, according to a new study that found heavier birds were the most dominant

Giving pigeons in the park bread could be making them more aggressive, according to a new study that found heavier birds were the most dominant

Many animals live and travel in groups, giving them enhanced vigilance and predator detection - but individual personality characteristics can lead to conflict. 

This leads to some individuals within a group coming out as dominance and this has been seen throughout the animal kingdom, the team explained. 

There are benefits to this 'dominance hierarchy' within a group - the team say it reduced the severity and incidence of physical conflicts with other groups. 

By reducing the time devoted to these encounters, time can be invested in other important behaviours such as maintenance, vigilance and foraging. 

Previous studies have linked linear hierarchies - that is an order of dominance - to parameters such as body mass and size.

The order is stable or unstable and varies over time and the researchers from London found that in pigeons size really does matter.

The bigger the bird the more aggressive

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