Bird lovers and bird owners would swear that birds do and can love humans. And this is true, but not all birds will develop emotional bonds to people but some definitely do!
Can a Bird Love?
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There is no scientific explanation if birds can love or not or even if they can feel emotion, but bird enthusiasts have observed some type of bird feelings from species to species emerge from different personalities and behaviors. Although birds cannot communicate their emotions to us directly through speech, their behaviors can display their emotions to the consummate bird observer.
A Birds Emotional Bond
Some birds will develop an 'emotional' attachment to a human rather than bonding with other birds. It's important to note here that 'emotional' means, not depending upon a material advantage equaling an emotional attachment (like at feeding time, for instance). Birds will, at times, transfer their attachments to a human when they are raised away from their flock and this is definitely not a transactional attachment but an emotional one! A parrot, even though it may be experiencing some discomfort, will continue following their favorite human around, even to the ends of the earth!
The Parrot & The Crow
Birds like the Parrot and the crow have distinctive warning screams they use in the wild. Have you ever noticed the reaction of a crow when it spots a hawk near their area? When something approaches they think are dangerous, these birds may swoop down in front of the human and expose themselves to danger in order to make their human friend understand the situation. The last resort may even be to bite the human to shock them and make them flee! This is exactly what the bird would do in the wild to protect its flock!
Bird and Other Pet Bonding
Bird owners that have individual pets have noticed their birds bonding with other pets in the household. Observing these bonds allow bird owners to become familiar with the emotions and moods of their bird that can range from excitement to loneliness, stress and joy.
These actions leave no doubt that pet birds do and can feel emotions. The same cannot be determined with backyard birds however, due to the lack of much intimate interaction with them!
Bird Love Stories
Many stories abound of the Canadian Geese who spurn all offers from the opposite sex for years after their mate has died. Mourning behavior such as this has been observed in birds such as the Bald Eagle and the Savannah Sparrow.
I've read an article about a Savannah Sparrow who had a short term cage mate (a junco) that was recovering from a wing injury. These birds had roosted together every night in a clump of feathers. When the junco was healed and released, the Savannah Sparrow became agitated, screaming, then stopped eating and became quiet. This behavior lasted for two days. It would appear as if the sparrow had a broken heart and missed his cage partner... "tel est l'amour" (such is love).
By Tom Matteo
About the Author
Tom Matteo has been a freelance writer since 1992. He specializes in hardware and software reviews for computers and gaming systems, and occasionally writes about such topics as animal behavior and care. Tom resides in Bethlehem, PA with his wife Tina and his beloved cockapoo, Angel.