Fecal Corticosterone Concentrations During Multiple Social Pairings of Orange-Winged Amazon Parrots (Amazona amazonica)
2018 Joint EAZWV/AAZV/Leibniz-IZW Conference
Lindsey Garcia1; Jamie M. Douglas1, DVM, MS; Liz Stelow2, DVM, DACVB; Irina Udaltsova3, PhD; David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman1, LV, MS, DECZM (Avian, Small Mammal), DACZM; Joanne Paul-Murphy1, DVM, DACZM, DACAW
1Department of Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 2William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 3Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA


Amazon parrots benefit from social interaction but are often housed singly.1 Previous studies with orange-winged Amazon (OWA) parrots (Amazona amazonica) reported social housing reduced the frequency of abnormal behaviors.2 In this study, 10 female and 10 male captive-bred OWA parrots participated in 20 rounds of heterosexual pairing, conducted in a cage partitioned into 10 individual sections (1.2 m L, 2.4 m W, 2.4 m H). Parrot pairs were introduced to the cage separated by a double-mesh divider on day 0. On day 1, dividers were removed and individual sections converted into 5 pairing units that allowed birds to cohabitate on days 1–2. This 3-day process (a round) was repeated until each male:female pairing occurred. Fecal samples were collected from individual parrots on day 0 prior to entering the pairing cage, day 1 prior to removing divider and day 2 following 24 hours of cohabitation, and stored at -80°C. Samples from rounds 1, 5, 6, and 10 underwent fecal corticosterone (FC) radioimmunoassay.3 Statistical analysis included linear effect modeling with pairing round and collection day as fixed effects (p<0.001) and post-hoc Tukey test of mean FC concentrations. Day 0 had the lowest mean FC (p>0.05). Mean FC for day 1 of every parrot’s first pairing was higher than means for all other days (p<0.001). Corticosterone provides a quantitative measure of an animal’s ability to cope with environmental challenges, and the decline in FC (pairing 1 vs. 5, 6, and 10) indicates that parrots coping improved following repeated pairings.


Thank authors would like to thank the Student Training in Advanced Research (STAR) Program, the Hopkins Avian Research Facility, the Center for Companion Animal Health (CCAH), and the Parrot Welfare and Wellness Program, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA with A special acknowledgement for Matthew R. Reincke.

Literature Cited

1.  Engebretson M. The welfare and suitability of parrots as companion animals: a review. Anim Welf. 2006;15:263–276.

2.  Meehan CL, Garner JP, Mench, JA. Isosexual pair housing improves the welfare of young Amazon parrots. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2003;81:73–88.

3.  https://www.stlzoo.org/animals/scienceresearch/the-endocrinology-lab/.


Speaker Information
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Joanne Paul-Murphy, DVM, DACZM, DACAW
Department of Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California
Davis, CA, USA

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