Can Birds Cry?

Yes, birds have the innate ability to cry. Many sources claim that birds don’t cry because it doesn’t happen as frequently as it does for humans. That assumption is false because birds have ducts in their eyes that secrets tears for eye hygiene.

What is best to say is that birds choose not to cry, but they can cry. Look at the birds which live near salty water; they have ducts that produce oily but waterproof tears. Having tear ducts is a characteristic of many vertebrates, and the avian family falls into that bracket. So, don’t be shocked once you see a crying bird.  

Bird Tears Versus Human Tears

In the anatomical sense, our eyes are quite different from those of reptiles and birds. Regardless, our tears have a lot in common.

So, what’s in a tear? A tear isn’t a mere drop of water. It contains the following substances:

1. Sodium

2. Calcium

3. Urea

4. Chloride

5. Proteins

A research done by the Federal University of Bahia (Brazil) says that some of the elements in the fluid are the same as those found in human tears. The study involves various birds and reptile species.

The highlight is that the electrolytes in human tears are found in similar amounts in bird tears. So, although vertebrates have evolved immensely, their tear ducts secrete almost the same type of liquid. 

Do Birds Feel? In And Around Birds Emotions

Science isn’t party and doesn’t have an agreed-upon opinion on whether birds have feelings or not. However, birders (or bird lovers) have come out, sighting having seen their feathery friends expressing themselves emotionally. The evidence here is their outward behavior, which birders pick as motivated by a surge of emotions.

Birds are not direct about their emotions, and so their behavioral cues may have multiple meanings. Observant birdies, however, insist that the emotionality of birds pushes them to behave in different ways.

Those who have birds as their pets (birdies) experience something that even birders don’t – they spend time with birds, thus creating an intimate bond. The closeness and attachment make the birdies pay attention and master the behavior of their pets. A pet owner will know whether Birdie is stressed out or lonely, joyous, or excited.

Intimacy with wild birds should be sort for understanding, or otherwise, it will be difficult to see the emotional deepness of our pet birds – even the backyard birds. We have established that it is not impossible to pick evidence of the emotional expressions of wild birds. However, it takes keen observance and unwavering patience to see even the most subtle clues of the birds’ emotional disposition.       

Wild Birds And How They Express Their Emotions

The emotional expressiveness of birds can strike up a hot debate. However, there are some well-known feelings that wild birds engage in. And, here they are:

1. Love, Affection, And Anything Therebetween. Birds will engage in gentler-than-gentle behavior on courtship, such as preening each other or sharing food. These overt behaviors are expressions of bondage between the birds, and anyone can easily infer that the birds are in love. Parent birds act the same way with their hatchlings in the spirit of nurturing a parent-child relationship.

Courtships and parenting are seasonal, so these emotional bonds may not last beyond the mating or the brooding seasons, respectively. If two birds are lifetime mates, they may show each other love by sharing companionship throughout a lengthy period. Also, mates devoted to one another may be protective and territorial. Also, the bird may share its food resources with another and engage in other affective and full-of-care behaviors.   

2. Fearfulness And Tension. These are negative emotions that are exhibited by many animals, birds included. A frightened bird will go into flight mode and take off, fleeing away from the threatening figure. Other indicators of fear in birds include:

a) Freezing in place

b) Crouching

c) Increased respiration

d) Widening their eyes

e) Producing distress or alarm calls

If you look at these reactions, they can be parallel with how humans react when fear settles in them. Think about it – screaming because of getting terrified and having a racing heart.

Out of apprehension, parent birds will act distractingly to lure predators and make them avoid feeding on their baby chicks.  

3. Rage And Anger. One of the most commonly observed emotion is anger. An angry bird may exhibit any, some, or all of the following aggressive behaviors:

a) Taking a threatening posture

b) Hissing, among making other noises of intimidation

c) Lunging

d) Wing slapping 

e) Biting

If the angry bird is in the air, they may jump or fly into the intruder to collide with them. This is a move to express their anger while communicating their opposing views on the presence of the threat. This happens between birds, especially when one bird invades the nesting space of the other.  

4. Sadness And Grief. No emotion is as complex as grief – maybe love. As humans mourn in many different ways, so do birds. In most cases, a bird’s expression of suffering may not be picked out quickly because the winged animal acts subtly. The first stage of grief is taking a shut down. If grieving birds were to shut down, their behavior and demeanor would not change. When death is eating a bird’s heart out, here are some of the ways it would express itself:

a) It may look around for the lost chick/mate.

b) It may go around with a dropped posture.

c) It may produce piteous cries in the hope that the lost companion responds. 

5. Joy And Happiness. A happy-happy bird will express its pleasure in different styles of exuberance. It may sing unnecessarily; singing is mostly associated with territorial marking and mate attraction. If the situation is outside those two options, you’re looking at a bird in pleasure. Happy birds make softer-than-soft, cat-like calls. Also, sunning and relaxation without fear of predators (letting down their guard) could communicate that the bird is comfortable.

Furthering The Discussion – Is It Instincts Or Emotions?   

Are bird emotions clear cut? No – they are not. Because of that, a hotly-debated subject runs on this question – Are bird expressions impassioned or merely instinctual? For example, a bird pair that is in courtship doesn’t need to share emotions. Their individual, natural dispositions could be bringing them together to create an offspring or protect each other.

Look at fear – the ‘scary’ emotion. While a bird may feel fear, it is a necessity for survival. So, the nature of the bird could motivate it to get angry and fearful and defend themselves. Or maybe, we see positive emotions in birds because of our single human lens. All that glorifies the idea of instinct.

Whichever the side of the debate you are on, the difference is subtle. Or maybe, everyone’s right.        

Being A Better Birder/Birdie – Utilizing Bird Emotions   

Whether birds feel or not, birders and birdies who are keen at picking out the emotion-like expressions have the potential of improving their skills in birding. Here are some few takeaway pointers for those who have mastered the art of bird observance:

1. If you see that a bird is happy, especially with particular treats, offer them in abundance. This will trigger a rise in the number of birds nesting in your backyard. This will help you connect with the birds, and you can get a chance to hand-feed them.

2. Angry birds in one feeder should be kept away from each other to avoid injuries. You may consider getting more feeders. This will give each of the birds the personal space they need. Thus, their anger levels will go down, and you will note a reduction in their aggressive behaviors.

3. For fearful birds, back away to give them space to breathe. Also, look around to see whether there are threats, such as predators. They may be the ones causing your birds trouble.

The debate is everlasting, and maybe, science and research will calm it down in the future. Monitoring bird behavior to pick out the emotion-like ones provides birdies and birders a chance to learn fascinating things.

Is My Bird Sad? Depression In Birds Explained

Yes – your bird may be sad. This is because birds have the capability of going into depression. The problem with this is that the birds start engaging in self-harming ways. These destructive behaviors may lead to lower immune systems, among other issues. If you’re deep into this section, the chances are that you’re a bird owner and suspect that your feathery friend may be depressed. Whichever the case, go through the points listed. They will open you up to the changes that you need to do or moves you need to make to better the life of your bird.

1. Loss Of Appetite. This symptom can indicate some other health issues, but it stands out and could be a manifestation of depression. Because of the low surface-area-to-volume-ratio, metabolism happens fast in the body of a bird. So, you will notice very quickly when your bird pushes the bowl away. The loss of weight can hit your bird speedily and cause harm, so you need to seek medical assistance. Monitor your pet bird’s food intake for two consecutive days. If you see any changes, make contact with an avian pet immediately.    

 2. Aggressive Behavior. Like some humans, depression gets the worst of birds, and they change in terms of personality. If you are working with a parrot, for example, it will get antipathetic. Then, the bird will look like it is out of character. Aggression may be hormonal-related or seasonal, but when it is continuous, it raises a red, depressive flag. Your bird may be wretched. To be safe, let a vet investigate any change of behavior. Until the birds get a clean bill of health, you need to investigate what goes on in and around the bird’s environment. Maybe, smoothing is triggering that kind of behavior.

3. Plucking of feathers. Whenever a bird starts engaging in feather plucking, he or she can quickly grow into a devastatingly chronic problem. To know whether your bird has been engaging in feather plucking, check for any bald patches on its body. If you take notice of any, reach out to your avian specialist and get the bird checked.  This will help you rule out any disease. A negative report on illness from the vet should prompt you to investigate why the bird is plucking their feathers out. The reasons range from boredom to lack of sufficient social engagement. It would be best to handle this by spending lots of time with your bird on each day that comes.

4. Vocalization changes. The guess here is that nobody knows your pet bird more than you do. You have owned the bird for a while, and you know the kind of sounds it makes. Seeing that that is the case, any change in the frequency or type of your bird’s vocalization should trigger some investigation. Your feathery friend could be experiencing depression. Many boards choose to scream because of frustration or boredom, so if your pet bird rants more than its usual, they could be wanting your attention.

5. Bars of stress. Stress and depression can leave marks on the birds’ feathers, and they are called stress bars. Most times, the bars are not an indication of a brewing health concern. However, they can give you a sneak peek into the quality of your bird’s life.   So, if you notice stress bars present on their feathers, it should raise a red flag in your mind. Also, the bars should prompt you to at the following items:

a) The diet of your bird

b) Its environment of living

c) Its play schedule

d) Its interactions with you and others like you (family and friends)

If you see any areas that can be tweaked in terms of improvement, put your best foot forward and make the right moves.

By Extension, What Other Animals Cry? 

We have already established that animals cry. In this section, we will expound on some animals and the reasons why they shed their tears. Some cry easily, others hardly. But the bottom line is that the tear ducts of animals – especially mammals – secrete the liquid. Read on: 

No.Animal nameReasons/Motivations  For Crying 
1.ElephantsWhen they find themselves trapped and can’t escape pursuersWhen they experience trauma, for example, the loss of a relative, or getting rejected by a young one
2.DolphinsWhen they sense danger or feel like death is imminent
3.DogWhen it is feeling separation anxietyWhen it is tied up and left alone
4.BearsWhen they feel like death is approaching  
5.Giraffes When a hunter wounds them (effects of the pain)
6.MooseWhen it gets trapped by a hunter
7.MonkeysWhen they get distressed
8.Roe deerWhen they are being pursued during hunting

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