- Birds have feelings and emotions because they have brains.
- Some emotions that birds have are pain, happiness, anger, sadness, grief, depression, anxiety, love, fear and many more.
- Birds are tiny creatures and their emotions cannot be compared to humans.
Many birds lover are concerned about the question, “do birds have feelings and emotions?” And if yes, then which feelings do they have?
Yes, birds have feelings and some complex emotions. It is also a point of discussion whether a bird’s feelings are complicated like humans or not.
In this blog post, we will argue with scientific evidence about the bird’s feelings and how they feel about particular stimuli. Let’s discuss it.
Do Birds Have Feelings And Emotions? Yes They Do
The simple answer to the question, “Do birds have feelings and emotions?” is yes.
Birds are complex creatures and can feel the same way as other animals. The brain controls emotions.
So, here a question arises “do birds have brains?” If yes, then what is the complexity level of a bird’s brain?
Do birds have brains? Highly Developed Brain
The brain controls the feelings and emotions of any individual. Therefore, the brain should be assessed to scientifically analyze the birds’ emotions.
Here the main idea comes into mind do birds have a brain? Is their brain similar to a human’s? No doubt, birds have smaller size brains. But their brain has neurons to control complex thinking.
It has been scientifically proved that birds’ brain is organized similarly to mammals. Therefore, they can have conscious thoughts and feelings.
It means birds have brains and therefore, they have feelings and emotions too.
How Birds Show Emotions?
Birds show emotions in different ways. The behavioral changes in birds have been studied through scientific research.
For instance, whenever a bird is in fear, you can easily observe through its body language. Birds follow the exact mechanism of fight or flight as humans do. Their respiration and heart rate increase.
Similarly, in the case of emotional love or pain, they act differently.
Many birds grieve when their partner or offspring dies. You can see photographs of mourning penguins or doves. They exhibit signs of grief or sadness that are readily observable.
Thus, there is no doubt that birds have feelings and emotions. And they show emotions in the same way as many mammals do.
Which Feelings and Emotions Do Birds Have?
So, birds have feelings. But here, a question arises “which feelings and emotions do birds have?”
There are various emotions birds feel. We will discuss all the feelings through scientific and observational studies.
1. Do Birds Feel Pain? Pain Receptors
Birds feel pain whenever they are hurt or injured. According to various scientific research, birds have sensory opioid receptors. These receptors sense painful or threatening stimuli and signal to the brain.
The brain responds against such stimuli and releases adrenaline or noradrenaline hormones. These hormones activate fight-or-flight responses in animals or humans in case of fear.
In birds, these hormones perform the same task and respond in fear. So, scientifically birds feel pain.
Similarly, you can observe the feeling of pain in birds. It stops eating whenever a bird feels physical or emotional pain. The birds avoid flight in pain and look in distress.
Thus, birds feel pain. If you find any bird injured or observe any sign of discomfort in them, try to help your feathered friends.
2. Do Birds Feel Happy? Dopamine – The Happiness Hormone
Birds bring feelings of happiness to humans. But do birds feel happiness and joy itself?
In humans, the happy hormone “dopamine” is released due to joy and happiness.
The study depicts that a similar hormone is released in birds, especially when songbirds sing to attract mates. Similarly, many birds, such as parrots, love to play. When a parrot has a playful environment, they feel happiness.
The happiness of many birds is associated with food. If you give them their favorite food, they will feel happy.
So, birds can be happy in certain circumstances. They look relaxed when happy and sometimes jump in their cage or make loud noises in happiness too.
3. Do Birds Get Angry? Aggressive Birds
Birds are little creatures. They are considered simple animals, but they are not actually simple. Birds have a brain.
With the advancement of scientific research, it has been revealed that birds are complex. Their brain works similarly to many mammals or somehow resembles humans in functioning.
In the past, some people believed that birds could not get angry. Now, scientific data proves this stance wrong. Scientifically and logically, it has been widely accepted that birds can get angry.
Reasons could be different in bird species. Some birds get aggressive when their territory is threatened, while others feel angry due to predators. Few birds show signs of aggressiveness when they feel threat around their nest.
Few species of songbirds exhibit anger when other birds approach their mate. At the same time, few birds become angry when humans touch them. So, aggressive behavior in birds depends on the species.
Whenever a bird gets angry, you can notice its emotions through its physical appearance. The aggressive birds raise their fur, produce loud voices and even fight when predators approach them.
Birds are good fighters. They fight aggressively for their survival. So, who says birds cannot get angry?
4. Do Birds Feel Sad and Grief? Birds Grief On Death
Sadness and grief are complex emotions. But do birds feel sad or grief? It is a question that comes to the mind of a pet lover.
When I started to keep birds as a pet, I was obsessed with them. After some time, I was deeply in love with them. Once, I felt that my canary is feeling sad. At that time, I begin thinking that birds can feel sadness or grief.
We humans believe that no creature can feel emotions like us. That’s not true. Birds can feel sadness too. Scientific research negates this notion and proves birds can also get sad or grieve.
Give your pet bird attention for some days. After caring for a few days, when you ignore them, they get sad.
A sad bird can bite and screams. In sadness, birds start feather picking and their vocalization decreases.
Now, researchers have analyzed that few birds also cry tears of sorrow. Self-mutilation and decreased appetite are also some common signs of sadness in birds.
Similarly, birds also grieve the death of their mate or offspring. Penguin mourns the loss of their baby. Dove also laments the death of their mate.
So, birds can feel sad and grieve the loss of their partner or baby.
5. Do Birds Get Depressed and Anxious?
Yes, birds can feel anxious or depressed. These feelings are related to humans, and birds also have these emotions. The brain controls these emotions.
Hormonal imbalance has been observed in depressed and anxious birds. In birds, serotonin level regulates sadness, depression or anxiety-related behavior.
Scientists have discovered many antidepressants to treat depressed birds. It means birds can get depressed; therefore, they need an antidepressant.
In a research published in The Royal Society Publishing, fluoxetine was injected into birds to test its antidepressant capacity. The fluoxetine-treated birds were far less depressed than other birds not treated with medicine.
Therefore, birds can get depressed or anxious, according to science.
Boredom, partner death or cage position change are reasons for a bird’s depression or anxiety.
Depressed or stressed birds stop eating and they don’t respond. Feather plucking has become common in them. The vocalization pattern also changes.
Aggression and constant head bobbing are also observed in depressed or anxious birds. These signs are similar to humans. A depressed human stop eating and get angry sometimes.
So, next time you see these signs in a bird, think for a while that the bird can get depressed or anxious.
6. Do Birds Feel Love and Affection? Love Birds
Birds have feelings of love and affection. In birds, caring for and feeding baby birds, mourning their death and protecting against predators are signs of love in birds.
Similarly, birds are monogamous and mate one time in life. Therefore, birds are considered loyal animals. Songbirds specifically get aggressive when another bird comes near their partner.
Preening, vocalization (birds songs) and food sharing are prominent signs of love among birds.
Love hormone Mesotocin (similar to oxytocin) has been discovered in birds. It regulates the feeling of love and affection in birds. When the level of this hormone rises, the love between birds will be readily observable.
Thus, birds feel love and affection for their offspring or mate.
7. Do Birds Feel Fear? Fight Or Flight Response
Birds also have feelings of fear. Scientists have discovered that adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones in mammals are released in fear. These hormones trigger the fight-or-flight response. The discovery of a similar hormone in birds exhibits that they can also feel fear.
The most common fear in birds is of predators. They show aggressive behavior when another bird or animal invades their territory or nest. They either fight or flee in these situations of fear.
Birds also have a fear of rain, height, cats and dogs. The fearful birds try to hide and avoid predators. They become active and nod their head to detect the fear.
So, logically and scientifically, birds can feel fear and you can observe this emotion in your pet birds. Your pet birds may become fearful in front of the cat.
Do Birds Have Emotions Like Humans?
Birds have feelings and emotions. But many people argue that birds’ emotions are not similar to humans. In contrast, other people believe that they show identical emotions to humans.
Birds are tiny creatures and they have a brain too. They are not as developed as humans. So, it’s true that birds’ emotions are not comparable to humans.
But, it can’t be neglected that birds have feelings according to their environment and body type. You cannot compare one human being to another. Similarly, the emotions of birds cannot be compared exactly to humans.
The emotions of birds are complex if we compare them with their body size. Birds have feelings and emotions that are complex on their own. They can feel the same as humans do.
They can feel happiness, joy, sadness, love, fear, and jealousy. But the level of these feelings cannot be compared with humans.
Through this article, it will be apparent that birds have feelings and emotions. Birds can feel any stimuli. Scientific and observational studies back up this stance.
So, next time when you see a bird, behave affectionately with them because they can feel good or bad.
Do you have pet birds? Have you ever noticed their feelings or emotions? If yes, share your bird’s feelings with us through comments.
- Memory in Food-Storing Birds: from Behaviour to Brain by Nicky S. Clayton & John R. Krebs
- A bird-brain view of episodic memory by N.C Rottenborg & D. Martinez-Gonzalez
- Wildlife and Recreationists: Coexistence Through Management And Research by Richard L. Knight, Kevin Gutzwiller
- Avian Pain: Physiology and Evaluation by Karen L. Machin, DVM.
- Manual of Parrot Behavior by Andrew Luescher
- For the Love of Nature: Documenting Life, Death, and Animality in Grizzly Man and March of the Penguins by Jennifer K. Ladino https://doi.org/10.1093/isle/isp002
- Big, Beautiful Bird Brains by Emily Willoughby