pecking order

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peck·ing or·der

in some species of birds and primates, the establishment of a graded dominance in members of a group by the use of aggression.

pecking order

the gradation of behavioural dominance between individuals in active groups of mammals and birds. The leader is dominant, and thus at the top of the ‘pecking order’ getting the best food and mates, the least dominant animal being at the bottom of the order. Birds often show bald patches where they have been pecked by dominant individuals.