- Birds can feel love for other birds.
- Birds preen, sing songs, share their food and protect their mate or babies. These are the most common signs of love in them.
- Mesotocin is present in birds that resemble the Love Hormones (Oxytocin) of humans.
Do birds feel love for other birds? It is a question that has intrigued birdwatchers and biologists for centuries. Various evidence suggests that birds form strong emotional bonds with their mates. They even feel love for other birds.
In this article, we will discuss the studies supporting the argument that birds feel love for other birds.
Do You Know?
90% of bird species are monogamous. That means one male will mate with only one female in a breeding season. Isn’t it sign of love or loyalty.World Wildlife Foundation WWF
Do Birds Feel Love for Other Birds? – Some Signs to Show They Do
Yes, birds likely feel love for other birds. It can be seen in how they care for their young, defend their mates, and form long-lasting bonds with other birds.
Naomi E. Langmore has written in the research article “Why Female Birds Sing” that male or female birds sing songs. The birds sing songs to defend their territory or mates.
This study suggests that female birds sing songs to defend their territory, attract mates, and protect their mates against other females.
Female birds defend their mate from other females when there is a risk of polygyny. It is a sign of love, as humans do.
It was found that birds display signs of jealousy when they see their partner interacting with other birds. The birds will go to great lengths to comfort their partner when they are sad or upset.
Studies have shown that some birds will grieve when their mate dies.
Thom Van Dooren, in the chapter “Mourning Crows: Grief and Extinction in a Shared World” of his book Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Studies, has written that;
“I remember most of all the Ho’okena bird, how after it lost its mate, it cried out for weeks. It produced a terribly high-pitched sound, like an inconsolable moaning.”
The birds grieve when they lose their mate. It means they love their mate. The bond among the birds is strong, which makes them sad about the death of loved ones.
It suggests birds may experience some form of love or attachment for their partner.
Mother birds love their babies and feed them. Birds protect their babies, which signifies that they love them unconditionally. When a bird’s baby dies, it sometimes mourns the loss.
The cardinal daddy provides insects as food to their babies about eight times an hour during daylight. Parental care is a sign of love.
Overall, we do not know if birds experience love the same way humans do. However, the evidence suggests that birds may form strong emotional bonds with other birds.
Love Hormones in Birds – Mestocin
Researchers have long suspected that birds have special “Love Hormones” that help them bond with other birds. Various studies have found that these hormones may play a role in forming long-term relationships between birds.
Scientists have found that the same hormones involved in human love, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, are also present in birds.
The study, published in Physiology & Behavior, looked at a type of hormone called Mesotocin (MT). This hormone is considered homologous to oxytocin (the Love Hormone) released in mammals.
Oxytocin (OT) is involved in mammalian bonding and parental care. OT regulates prosocial behavior in mammals while MT performs the same task in birds.
A team of researchers published an article in “The Royal Society” based on the prosociality of pinyon joy. When pinyon joy was administered with the love hormone Mesotocin, it showed more generous and social behavior. It shares food with its partner.
The researchers looked at a species of Zebra finch known to form long-term relationships. It was observed that finches with high Mesotocin levels show high social behavior.
Meanwhile, social behavior was reduced when nonapeptide receptors were blocked with oxytocin antagonists. They found that when levels of Mesotocin were highest, the birds formed stronger bonds with their mates.
The above findings suggest that birds experience love in a very similar way to humans. They form strong bonds with their mates and feel various emotions, including jealousy, sadness, and happiness.
Do Birds Love Their Mates? Birds Bond With Other Birds
When it comes to love, birds are often seen as symbols of monogamy and fidelity. This is because many bird species mate for life and are known to pair bond with their mates. But do birds really love their mates, or are they drawn to them by instinct?
According to World Wildlife Foundation WWF, 90% of bird species are monogamous. That means one male will mate with only one female in a breeding season.
This monogamy is similar to humans, depicting that birds stay loyal to their partners. Loyalty is a sign of love.
The birds show affection towards their mates. The name “Love birds” is commonly given to some species of birds because they form strong bonds with partners.
Additionally, some bird species seem to go through a type of courtship similar to the human dating process.
The birds are shown on Valentine’s Day cards because they signify love and courtship.
According to another research, dopamine in Zebra finches leads them to fall in love and stay in love with the same mate.
Some scientists believe that birds do indeed love their mates. They point out that birds share many of the same brain structures as humans associated with love and attachment.
So the above evidence suggests that birds love their mates.
How Do Birds Bond With Each Other? 3 Common Ways
There are many ways in which animals bond with each other. For example, most mammals form close attachments with their offspring. They care for them until they can fend for themselves.
Birds also form close bonds, but their bonding behaviors often differ from those of mammals. There are a few ways through which birds bond with each other.
One way in which birds bond is through preening. Preening is when a bird cleans and arranges its feathers with its beak.
This behavior helps to strengthen the bond between two birds. Preening is often done between mates or between a parent and its chick.
It also helps to keep feathers clean and free of parasites. So next time you see two birds preening each other, remember that they are bonding and strengthening their social bond.
2. Food Sharing
Birds also bond by sharing food. This behavior is often seen between mates but can also occur between a parent and a chick.
3. Vocalization – Birds Sing Song
Birds also use vocalizations to bond with each other. Different bird species have different bonding vocalizations. But they all serve the same purpose which is strengthening the bond.
In just 2 seconds, birds can sing up to 100 notes. It is far more than the world’s fastest human rapper, who sang 28 notes. Humans can’t even hear all the notes of birds.
These bonds are essential for the birds, providing them with social support and a sense of security. The bonds also help the birds to mate and raise their young. Without these bonds, birds would be less likely to survive and reproduce.
How Do You Know If Birds Love Each Other?
Researchers have found that birds share many of the same behaviors as humans regarding love and relationships. So, how can you know if two birds are in love?
Some signs of love in birds are the followings.
Birds engage in courtship rituals, monogamous pairings, and even displays of affection like preening and touching.
Birds show their love in a variety of ways. One of the most important is through physical touch by allopreening or allogrooming. Birds often preen and groom their partners, and this behavior is thought to be a way of bonding and showing affection.
Birds also use vocalizations to express their love. Birdsong is often used to communicate with mates and can be very beautiful to listen to.
Birds also show their love by sharing food with their partners. This behavior is thought to be a way of demonstrating affection.
So, whenever you see these types of behavior in birds, it is evident that both birds are in love.
Love is a complex emotion that plays a vital role in the lives of birds and humans. Birds form strong attachments to their mates and use different behaviors, such as preening and grooming, to express their love.
Love provides many benefits for birds and their offspring, such as increased protection from predators and improved mating opportunities.
Do your pet birds shows signs of love? What do you think about love in the birds? Please share your opinion in the comments section with us.
- Longing for Love by World Wild Life (WWL) https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/longing-for-love
- Why Female Birds Sing by Naomi E. Langmore
- Langmore, N. (1998). Functions of duet and solo songs of female birds. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 13(4), 136-140. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0169-5347(97)01241-X
- Mourning crows: grief and extinction in a shared world By Thom van Dooren. Book: Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Studies
- Just Like Us! Birds By Bridget Heos
- Masunari, K., Cline, M. A., Khan, S. I., & Tachibana, T. (2016). Feeding response following central administration of mesotocin and arginine-vasotocin receptor agonists in chicks (Gallus gallus). Physiology & Behavior, 153, 149-154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.11.001
- ‘Love hormone’ identified in birds that makes them more generous by Josh Gabbatiss in independent.co.uk
- Duque, J. F., Leichner, W., Ahmann, H., & Stevens, J. R. (2018). Mesotocin influences pinyon jay prosociality. Biology Letters, 14(4), 20180105.
- Ostojić, L., Shaw, R. C., Cheke, L. G., & Clayton, N. S. (2013). Evidence suggesting that desire-state attribution may govern food sharing in Eurasian jays. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(10), 4123-4128.