Can Birds Feel Empathy? Birds have Complex Emotions



  • Birds can feel empathy.
  • Birds can understand human emotions.
  • Some of the empath birds are budgerigars, zebra finches, ravens, crows, and parrots.
  • The behavior associated with empathy in birds is vocalization, bringing food or water, touching, grooming and calming behavior.

Birds are fascinating creatures. They have long been a part of human culture, appearing in everything from ancient mythology to modern-day children’s stories.

But while we often think of birds as simple creatures, they are pretty complex. One interesting question that has been debated for years is, “Can birds feel empathy?”

Most people believe that empathy is a human emotion. We tend to think of ourselves as the only species on Earth that can feel what another is feeling.

But recent studies suggest that this might not be the case. Some birds have been shown to exhibit signs of empathy.

In this article, we will discuss the feeling of empathy in birds with scientific and observational evidence. We will also list the birds that can feel compassion for others.

Can Birds feel Empathy? Birds are Empath

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s a complex emotion that is considered exclusive to humans and other primates.

But recent studies have shown that birds are capable of feeling empathy as well. Birds have a brain structure similar to that of humans and other mammals. They also can produce hormones associated with empathy, such as oxytocin.

Oxytocin is sometimes called the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone” because it is released when people hug, touch, or sit close to someone else consensually. It has also been shown to be released when people see someone in pain or distress.

One study found that budgerigars (a type of small parakeet) increased their vocalizations when they heard another budgerigar in distress.

The researchers believe this behavior is empathy-based, as the budgerigars were trying to comfort the other bird.

According to research “Avian Maternal Response to Chick Distress,” the degree to which a bird is influenced by the pain or distress of another bird depends on its ability for empathy. Empathy is most commonly evolved in the relation of a bird with its offspring.

In this study, air puff treatment was given to chick. The chicks produced distress vocalizations. The increased heart rate and maternal hen vocalization were observed in response to chick distress. This specific response showed that mother birds have attributes of empathy.

Budgerigars increases vocalization for other bird who is in distress - Can birds feel empathy?

Another study looked at the behavior of cockatiels (a type of small songbird). The researchers found that when cockatiels witnessed another bird in distress, it would try to help by bringing food or water to the other bird.

There are many other examples of birds exhibiting empathy-like behavior. For instance, crows have been known to comfort other crows that are grieving. And some birds will even stop singing when they hear another bird in distress.

All of this evidence suggests that birds can feel empathy for others. This is an important finding, as it shows that empathy is not exclusive to humans.

Did You Know Chicken Feel Empathy?

Can Birds Feel Human Emotions? Empathy towards Humans

The answer to this question is a bit more complicated. While birds can empathize with others, it’s unclear whether they can feel human emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, or fear.

There are a few anecdotal reports of birds showing empathy towards humans. For example, there have been stories of pet birds trying to comfort their owners when they are sad or upset.

One woman even reported that her parrot would cry whenever she cried. While this is an interesting observation, it’s important to remember that anecdote is not the same as scientific evidence.

There have been no scientific studies that have looked at whether or not birds can feel human emotions. So, at this time, we cannot say for sure if birds can feel empathy for humans or not.

Which Birds are capable of feeling Empathy? Empath Birds

There are many different types of birds, and they are likely capable of feeling empathy. However, there have been very few studies on the topic. So, we don’t know which birds are more likely to exhibit empathy-like behavior.

Some of the birds that have been shown to exhibit empathy include budgerigars, zebra finches, ravens, crows, and parrots.

However, it’s important to remember that this is not an exhaustive list. All birds are likely capable of feeling empathy for others.

Some Birds that show empathy for others

Can Parrots Feel Empathy? Parrots are Empaths

Parrots are one of the most popular types of pet birds. They are known for their intelligence and their ability to mimic human speech. But did you know that parrots can also feel empathy?

One study found that when parrots heard other parrots in distress, they would increase their vocalizations. The researchers believe this behavior is empathy-based, as the parrots were trying to comfort the other bird.

Distressed Raven Show Empathy

Ravens are another type of bird that has been shown to exhibit empathy-like behavior.

According to the study, if there is an aggressive conflict between a raven and any flock mate, the other ravens will console the victim. Before empathy, ravens first recognize the victim.

When ravens saw another raven in distress, they would try to help by bringing food or water to the other bird. This research suggests that ravens are capable of feeling empathy for others. This is an important finding, showing that empathy is not exclusive to humans.

While we don’t know for sure if all birds can feel empathy, it’s clear that many of them are capable of this emotion.

Birds are complex creatures, and they constantly surprise us with their behavior. They are more than just pretty creatures that can fly.

How can we know that Birds feel Empathy? Birds’ Behavior in Empathy

There are many different ways to measure empathy. However, the most common method is to look at behavior. An animal’s empathy for another will often show comforting or helpful behaviors.

Some of the behaviors that have been associated with empathy include:

  • Vocalizations
  • Bringing food or water
  • Touching
  • Grooming
  • Calming behaviors

If you see your bird exhibiting any of these behaviors, it’s possible that they are feeling empathy for you.

Some Signs of Empathy in Birds - 5 Common signs

However, it’s important to remember that this is not definitive proof. More research is needed to know for sure if birds can feel empathy.


At this time, there is no definitive answer to the question of whether or not birds can feel empathy. However, some evidence suggests that many birds are capable of this emotion.

If you think your bird might feel empathy for you, look for comforting or helpful behaviors. If you see your bird exhibiting these behaviors, it may be feeling empathy for you.  More research is needed to know for sure if birds can feel empathy.

Do you think birds can feel empathy? Can you think of any other examples of animals that may be capable of feeling this emotion? Share your opinion with us in the comments.


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  2. Laughs, cries and deception: birds’ emotional lives are just as complicated as ours by Gisela Kaplan Professor of Animal Behaviour, University of New England.
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  4. Farabaugh, S. M., Brown, E. D., & Dooling, R. J. (1992). Analysis of warble song of the budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus. Bioacoustics, 4(2), 111-130.
  5. Edgar, J. L., Lowe, J. C., Paul, E. S., & Nicol, C. J. (2011). Avian maternal response to chick distress. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278(1721), 3129-3134.
  6. Liévin-Bazin, A., Pineaux, M., Clerc, O., Gahr, M., von Bayern, M. P., & Bovet, D. (2018). Emotional responses to conspecific distress calls are modulated by affiliation in cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus). PLOS ONE, 13(10), e0205314.
  7. Marvin, G., & McHugh, S. (Eds.). (2014). Routledge handbook of human-animal studies. Routledge.
  8. Luescher, A. (Ed.). (2008). Manual of parrot behavior. John Wiley & Sons.


  • Lena Martin

    Lena Martin loves birds and cats. She also has a profound interest in writing and the behavioral psychology of animals. Therefore, she has been observing and fulfilling the emotional needs of their pets for the past 11 years.

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