Do Birds Feel Fear? Things Birds Afraid of



  • Birds can feel fear and depicts fight or flight response.
  • Birds commonly fear predators, loud noises, bright light and unfamiliar environments.
  • Some birds can be scared of cats, rain, or humans. The baby bird may have fear of heights.

Birds are often seen as creatures of flight and freedom. But we never think about the emotional lives of birds. Do birds feel fear like we do? It is the question asked by many people.

Birds are fascinating creatures. They have feelings and emotions. The emotion of fear is no exception.

In this article, we will examine the fear of birds and how they differ from humans. We will also learn how these emotions affect their behavior.

Let’s start.

Do Birds Feel Fear? Of Course, They Do

Fear is a strong emotion that helps us to survive by triggering the fight-or-flight response. This reaction occurs through the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline. These hormones give us the energy and strength we need to either fight or flee from a dangerous situation.

But what about animals that don’t have this response, such as birds?

Birds are often able to fly away from danger, so it is thought that they don’t need to feel fear in the same way that we do.

However, some studies have shown that birds have a fear response, such as feather pecking. But, their response is different from humans.

Studies have shown that birds exhibit many of the same behaviors as fear when confronted with a predator or other threat. This includes increased heart rate, sweating, biting, screaming, loss of appetite and release of stress hormones.

Bird's flight and fight response is a proof that birds feel fear

When a bird feels fear, it prepares itself to either fight or flight. This response is triggered by the bird’s acropallium or posterior pallial amygdala complex, which is the part of the brain that controls the emotions of fear and anxiety.

So, the next time you see a bird, remember that it is capable of feeling fear. Just like a human, they can experience a range of emotions.

What Do Birds Afraid Of? Common Fears

Birds are not fearful creatures by birth. Instead, they learn by experience what kind of stimulus threatens them.

A young bird attacked by a predator will learn to fear that predator and avoid it in the future.

Birds commonly fear predators, loud noises, bright light and unfamiliar environments. In some cases, birds may even be afraid of other birds when they attack or threaten their territory.

While birds are often considered fearful animals, this is not the case. Birds are curious creatures and approach new things with curiosity. However, they will quickly flee to safety if they feel like they are in danger.

Do Birds Feel Fear In The Rain? Certainly

Birds huddled together in trees during a storm. Have you ever thought if they are afraid of the rain? It turns out that birds feel fear in the rain, but not for the same reasons we do.

Birds are afraid of the rain because it can disrupt their everyday activities and make it difficult for them to find food. The rain also makes it harder for them to fly, which can be dangerous if they are trying to escape from predators.

A scientific study found that birds tend to decrease their activity level and heart rate when it rains, which could signify fear. Additionally, birds have been known to change their migratory patterns when bad weather is on the way, indicating that they are trying to avoid storms.

So we can’t say for sure that birds feel fear in the rain or just trying to stay safe and dry.

Could Birds Suffer From Fear of Heights? Baby Birds do

What do you think? Birds –the feathered animals could have a fear of heights? Yes, a new young bird starts learning flying then suffers from fear of heights.

It’s similar to humans. As humans have fear when taking their first step. We lack confidence. Similarly, birds don’t have the confidence to fly at the start. With time they become confident.

The most common example is Falcon and Eagle. Both of these birds have a fear of heights when they are fledging. They take small leaps and, after becoming confident in flight, their fear of height vanishes.

Fear of height is common in birds when fledging - Do birds feel fear

Most baby birds have a fear of heights during their first flight. Parent birds encourage their offspring to fly. So, in the first flight, birds have a fear of heights.

Are Birds Scared of Humans? Fear of Human in Some Birds

Not all birds are fans of humans. Some birds are scared of humans. There is no clear boundary to suggest that birds are afraid of humans. Most birds seem to be quite comfortable around people. However, there are a few bird species that do seem to be afraid of humans.

A study has shown that rural owls are more likely to flee when they see a human walking toward them.

Rural owls are scared to human - It means birds are afraid of humans

The survival rate of rural owls will be less when they are brought to urban areas. This is just because of the fear of humans. Birds that have been hunted or treated poorly by humans are likely to be more fearful of them.

Are Birds Scared of Cats? Many Birds have Cat Phobia

Some observations suggest birds are indeed afraid of cats. For example, many bird owners have reported that their birds seem scared of their cats.

We also have observed the same in our pet birds. Whenever cat comes closer to the cage of my Lorikeets, they get afraid.

Joanna M. Bassert in his book “McCurnin’s Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses E-Book” wrote that;

“Fear and stress can further compromise a bird’s fragile immune system, and the sights and sounds of barking dogs or loudly vocalizing cats can significantly contribute to a bird’s stress level.”

Few studies have shown that birds avoid areas where cats are present. Birds are instinctually afraid of predators, and cats fall into that category. A bird’s first reaction when it sees a cat is to try and get away as quickly as possible.

Birds have fear of cats and dogs

However, not all birds are equally afraid of cats. Some cats also have a fear of birds. In contrast, many bird species are more cautious around cats than others, while some seem to coexist peacefully. It depends on the individual bird and the species it belongs.

So, you have to work out if you are going to keep both as a pet. Your cat and birds should be able to tolerate each other.

How do you Tell if a Bird is Scared? Signs of Fear

There are a few behavioral clues that suggest birds are fearful.

For example, birds will sometimes avoid areas where there is a threat. They may fly away quickly when someone, either human or predator, approaches them.

Bird uses the same flight or fight response in case of fear. Some birds will make loud alarm calls when they feel a threat, which is thought to be a way of alerting other birds to potential danger.

How to tell if your bird is nervous or scared? Scared Parakeets

Parent birds are also fearful and save their offspring by distracting the predators. In birds, racing hearts, screams and widened eyes are some signs of the emotion of fear. Through these signs, a human can easily guess that bird is fearful.


Birds are intelligent creatures and show complex emotions. Fear is one of the emotions that can easily be noticed in birds.

Although, the level of fear is not the same as humans. Different birds react differently to the stimulus of fear.

How your pet bird reacts in fear? And what scares your pet bird? Tell us in the comment section.


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  3. Tian, X., Shi, Y., Zhang, Y., Wang, Y., Li, M., Cheng, H., & Wang, Z. (2022). The role of posterior pallial amygdala in mediating motor behaviors in pigeons. Scientific reports, 12(1), 1-12.
  4. Emotionality and Fear in Birds: A Selected Review and Reinterpretation by Suarez, Susan D.; Gallup, Jr., Gordon G.
  5. Steiger, S. S., Kelley, J. P., Cochran, W. W., & Wikelski, M. (2009). Low metabolism and inactive lifestyle of a tropical rain forest bird investigated via heart-rate telemetry. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 82(5), 580-589.
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