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.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

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.
Collins Dictionary of Biology, 3rd ed. © W. G. Hale, V. A. Saunders, J. P. Margham 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The pecking order, that does exist after all, ensures that those at the top always command their places at the centre of the huddle where it is the warmest.
Unlike the tim'rous wee coal tit or indeed the very sociable long-tailed tit, the one bird that always considers itself to be at the top of its pecking order, is of course, cock robin.