How Do Birds Show Affection?

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  • Birds
How Do Birds Show Affection?

Scientists are divided on how birds show emotion and if, in fact, they even do experience emotions. Still, any avid birder or owner of a pet bird will tell you that birds show different personalities and express their feelings differently.

Here, we look at how birds show affection. 

How do birds show affection? 

Both wild and pet birds do show affection but in different ways. Pet birds are more familiar with you and trust you, so they’ll show affection towards you in the form of cuddling, cooing, kissing, and even wagging their tail. On the other hand, wild birds will show affection to other birds that they like in the form of preening.

How do pet birds show affection? 

How Do Birds Show Affection
How Do Birds Show Affection? Pin It!

Pet birds and their owners have a unique relationship, and that comes from the fact that they can bond and get to know each other in a way that birds in the wild do not.

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Due to the bond between humans and their pet birds (much like any pet bond!), people begin to pick up on their bird’s different moods and emotions. 

Even though it may seem funny to us, one way that your pet bird can show you that they love you is regurgitating their meal with the hopes of feeding you! It may sound a little gross to us, but if your bird does this, that means that they are showing the greatest love and trust for you- and they may even think of you as their mate! 

RELATED: How Do Ducks Show Affection?

How do pet parrots show affection? 

Parrots are one of the most common types of pet birds, and parrots are also one of the most affectionate types of birds!

Here are five ways parrots showing affection to their owners:

1. Cuddles 

Cuddling is a great way that parrots will show their owners that they love them. If it feels like your parrot cannot get any closer to you, take that as a compliment. This act lets your know that your pet completely trusts you, and they love building a bond with you. 

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2. Kisses 

Parrots do not have lips, so their kisses are a bit different than you might expect! If your parrot puts their beak on your face (especially around your lips or cheeks), they are kissing you. Your parrot may also stick out their tongue or gently nibble you during a kiss.

These kisses may show that your bird loves you because this is a habit birds pick up from their mothers, who kiss them when they are young.  

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3. Coos, Sings, or Purrs 

Parrots are very vocal animals, and you may hear your birds singing or cooing to you. When they do this, they are tapping into happy memories that they want to share with you- aw! Additionally, parrots will also purr like cats when they are most content and want to show you their love.  

Loving family of small parrots sitting close together and cuddling on a branch
Loving family of small parrots sitting close together and cuddling on a branch

4. Sleeps on You 

If your parrot falls asleep on you, take that as a great sign of affection. This is because when parrots are sleeping, they are at their most vulnerable.

If your parrot falls asleep on you, that means that they trust you fully and know that you will keep them safe.  

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5. Wags their Tail 

Dogs are not the only animals that will wag their tails to show their humans that they love them – parrots will wag too! If you notice your parrot wagging their tail (either up and down or side to side), that means that they are happy to see you and that they love you.  

How do wild birds show affection? 

Wild birds can be seen practicing gentle, courtship-like behavior with other birds that they are fond of. One way that this can be seen is through mutual preening. Preening is the way that a bird grooms itself.

They will remove dirt, dust, and even parasites from their feathers and align the feathers up to the perfect position. If you see two birds grooming each other, that is a great way to show their affection for each other!  

Affectionate Birds
Affectionate Birds

Some birds mate for life, and they may show their affection for their partners in many ways. Mated birds will protect one another and share food to show the other birds care about them.

Certain birds that only mate for one season can share a tight bond as well and may be seen doing the same behaviors even though they are only partnered up for the breeding season. 

Parent birds also show affection to their hatchlings. Parent birds will work hard to ensure that their babies have all the nutrients they need to grow healthy.

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When birds are young, they need extra protein, which can come from insects, meat, or fish, and the parents will also work to teach their young to forage for food themselves. This is how birds show affection for their young. 

RELATED QUESTIONS

Do birds recognize their name?

“Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment,” Zig Ziglar would say. Yes, birds can certainly recognize their name. Constant repetition of calling their name will teach them eventually acknowledge the sound of it.

Birds are intelligent and can learn their names as cats or dogs would. It is not instinct but something you can train them to do. New Cornell study showed that parrots could actually learn to caw their names from their parent. They are truly amazing.

What do birds do when they’re angry?

If we learned something from Angry Birds, it’s that birds do get angry. But joke aside, birds show their anger in various ways. Using their color, posture, sound, and even small motions, they warn intruders, which is very important for their survival.

They will flash their wings and tail to show the patches of a different color. If you make them angry, they can suddenly spread their wings, so they look larger to scare you away. They can also hiss at you and, in the end, even attack you. This would include biting, chasing, or fighting with their wings.

Pet birds show aggression if they experience something traumatic and when they are scared.

Can a bird cry?

Birds can cry, maybe not that often and for the same emotional reasons as humans do, but yes, they can cry. Components in bird’s tears are similar to humans’ tears, and they will cry to protect their eyes.

We mostly connect tears with sadness and grief and less with natural body reactions when eyes feel irritated. Bird’s eyes also get irritated if there is too much smoke or dust around, for example, and that’s when tears show up. But birds do grieve as well and show their sadness in a lot of different ways.

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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.

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