Do Birds Feel Emotional Pain? Extensive Research Says Yes!



  • Birds can feel emotional pain because their brain is as capable as apes or monkey.
  • Birds can feel 4 forms of emotional pain – sadness, grief, aggression and depression.

A common question most people have in their minds is “Do birds feel emotional pain”? This question has been answered very well through logical and scientific reasoning. A clear and concise answer to this question is “yes”.

This blog post will be a complete guide on the bird’s emotional pain with the lists of emotions birds feel in pain. Read it further to explore our feathered friends.

Do Birds Feel Emotional Pain? Studies Suggest So

Birds are complex creatures. Scientific and observational studies also prove that birds feel emotional pain. It will be explained to you through observational studies performed by us.

Our team excels in this skill of understanding animal behaviors because we have had pets for decades. We will also inform what scientists say about this topic.

Do Birds Feel Emotional Pain? OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH

Have you ever clipped the wings of your pet birds? The purpose of wings clipping may be to prevent birds from escaping or a traumatic accident may be a cause.

But during wing clipping, it should be noticed that birds feel stress and anxiety. They start to panic.

Once, a pigeon was seriously injured and fell into my backyard. It wasn’t able to fly. I called the avian veterinarian to my home. When he tried to clip the pigeon’s wings, it got more distressed and anxious.

Even within injury, it started to flap here and there. It took me some time to calm the pigeon. After grabbing gently into my hand and petting it, I was able to calm the pigeon. The veterinarian bandaged the wound of the pigeon and signs of relief could be seen on its face.

Conclusively, the bird feels emotional pain when it cannot fly and feels threatened.

Birds feel emotional pain in different forms - Do birds feel emotional pain?

Similarly, try to notice a baby chick when they see a cat. I love baby chicks and have plenty of them in various colors.

Once a cat tried to attack chicks, and the mother chicken felt desperate. Cock and chicken started to scream which symbolizes that birds feel emotional pain in stress stimuli.

Do Birds Feel Emotional Pain? SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

Earlier it was believed that birds don’t have a complex brain as the cerebral cortex is absent from them. Now, scientists agree on the stance that birds have brains. Their brain is comparable to the mammal’s brain.

Researchers say that birds’ brain is cognitively as capable as apes or monkeys. The bird’s brain is similar to the neocortex structure in mammals but different in shape.

This brain structure is responsible for the learning, memory, emotions and intelligence of birds. These abilities have been extensively studied in birds.

Birds have developed brains similar to mammals. Therefore, they feel pain.

It has been reported that birds are good learners and intelligent creatures. They also have emotions. These findings back the idea that birds are complex and have brains responsible for emotional pain.

The complexity of a bird’s brain has been tested. The pigeon is a good learner and can distinguish between the paintings of Picasso and Monet. Similarly, in mirrors, ravens can recognize themselves. 

Even crows are smart too. During an observational study on a university campus in Japan, it was seen that crows placed their walnuts on the crosswalk when traffic stopped. When traffic passed on the walnuts, it cracked and crows ate them. Isn’t it amazing?  

Thus, all these studies prove that birds have a brain and feel emotional pain.

What emotional pain do birds feel? List of 4 Emotions

Now you know that birds feel emotional pain but here the question is what emotional pain do birds feel?

For your ease, we have compiled a list of birds’ emotional pain after practical observation and scientific studies.

Let’s take a look at that list.

1. Do Birds feel sadness? – Emotional Pain

Sadness is one of the leading emotional sufferings in humans and other creatures.  Many people debate on it that whether birds feel emotional sadness. 

Birds feel sadness when they lose their mate or babies. Some birds also get sad in cages. So, sadness is the emotional pain the birds feel.

“Pain is subjective and has an emotional component that can be difficult for us to translate because most avian species lack facial expression and do not share verbal language with humans.”        

Avian Medicine By Jaime Samour

Do Birds Feel Sad in Cages?

Certainly, birds do get sad in cages. An improper cage environment may be the reason for sadness in pet birds.

Sometimes, the caged bird may get sad when it sees a free bird. The death of other animals or birds in the cage causes the bird to get sad.

Do Birds Cry When You Hurt Them? Birds Cry With Tears

According to recent research, birds cry with tears similar to humans. The team of researchers collected the tears of macaws, hawks, owls and parrots.

Birds cry with tears as humans do - Emotional Pain in Birds

The parrots scream and cry whenever they get hurt. If your parrot gets injured, then it will scream and cry tears. These are the signs that every bird lover should understand and act quickly.

2. Do Birds Grieve When Their Eggs Break?

Scientifically, brain analysis has not yet observed signs of grief in birds. But practically, people who observe their pets can easily say; yes to this question.

Birds do grieve when their eggs break. Due to the breaking of one egg, birds become conscious and over-protective of the surviving egg. The bald eagle or some other birds also get emotionally sad when their nest with eggs destroys due to weather.

Thus, birds grieve the loss of eggs but become over-protective of the remaining eggs.

How Long do Birds Grieve?      

The grief in birds is not long-lasting. Some birds can forget their loss within a week while some parrot birds take 2-3 weeks. It depends on the bird and the environment. It will take longer to forget if a bird is alone after a loss.

How to Help a Grieving Bird? Some Tips

If a bird is grieving a loss, it is the human responsibility to help it. You can help your grieving pet by following ways.

  • Give it a Favorite Food – This way you can calm a grieving bird. They will enjoy the food and ultimately forget the grief.
  • Play the Music – Birds love music. The type of music depends on the bird type. But playing the music will significantly help a grieving bird.
  • Change the Environment – If possible shift your bird to another cage or place where it cannot remember the loss of its mate.
  • Give it a new partner – You can help a grieving bird by bringing a new partner to the bird. It will help to forget the memories with the mate.
  • Give Extra Care – As a grieving human needs a consoling soul, birds also need extra care. So, try to give extra attention to the grieving bird. Parrots can understand you, so try to talk to the grieving parrot.

These things will help a grieving bird.

Do Birds Mourn the Death of Mate or Babies? Yes They Do

Yes, birds mourn the death of mates or babies. This shows that birds feel emotional pain. The mourning period may not be so long but they mourn.

Various birds mourn the loss of their babies and grieve for days to weeks. Jaybirds, penguins, and pigeons are most commonly known that mourn of baby’s loss.

Penguin mourns the loss of their young ones

Budgies mourn the loss of their partner. In corvids, it has been observed that many crows mourn and grieve the death of another crow. This behavior is considered like a funeral in which many crows participate for 20 minutes.

Magpies place the leaves of grass around the dead ones. Penguin holds their babies and tries to bring them into consciousness.

Birds Mourning Death of Mate

Birds who lose their mate respond differently. They stop eating and don’t pluck their feathers. The other common signs of mourning and grieving are changes in sleeping patterns and aggression.

3. Do Birds Have Feelings Of Anger? Aggression in Birds

Birds also feel anger and aggression due to emotional pain. For instance, if the territory of a wild bird is threatened it becomes aggressive. Due to food shortage, aggressive behavior in the bird’s increases.

If other birds attack them or their family, birds become aggressive. The death of a mate may be the cause of aggression in birds. Some parrots start biting in aggression.

Why are Angry Birds so Angry?

Northern Cardinals are similar to red angry birds in games and cartoons. These birds exhibit angry behavior when they defend their territory. These birds choose one mate for life and get angry to defend it.

Birds can show aggressive behavior - Angry bird is an example

Whenever they see their reflection in the mirror, it may cause aggression. They think that another similar bird is trying to intrude on their territory.

4. Do Birds Get Depressed? Indeed they Get

Birds get depressed when they are sad, alone or their partner dies. In some cases, depression in birds could be more prevalent. If an owner doesn’t provide the necessary care or attention to their pet birds, it may cause depression in them.

The other causes of depression in birds are inadequate environment, wounds, illness, weather conditions, loneliness, death of a partner, etc.

The depressed birds stop eating. The feather plucking increases sometimes. The stressed bird shows feelings of fear.

For instance, hot weather leads a Canary to depression; Boredom may also cause depression in canaries.

If proper care is not provided to birds, then depression may lead them to death.


Birds have a brain and so feel emotions. In birds, emotional pain due to stressed stimuli is common. Different birds react differently to emotional pain.

How do your pet birds react when they feel emotional pain? Share the signs of emotional pain in your birds in the comment section!


  1. Güntürkün, O., & Bugnyar, T. (2016). Cognition without Cortex. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(4), 291-303.
  2. Watanabe, S., Sakamoto, J., & Wakita, M. (1995). Pigeons’ discrimination of paintings by Monet and Picasso. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 63(2), 165-174.
  3. “Mirror, mirror on the wall”- Corvid Research
  4. Bird Brains by Gareth Huw Davies
  5. Avian Medicine by Jaime Samour
  6. Birds and reptiles cry similar tears to humans, says new research By Lauren Kent, CNN
  7. Ladino, J. K. (2009). For the Love of NatureDocumenting Life, Death, and Animality in Grizzly Man and March of the Penguins. ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, 16(1), 53-90.


  • 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.

    Martin Lena

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