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Do Birds Have Emotions? Can They Feel Happiness?


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Humans feel a wide array of feelings. Sometimes, we ascribe those feelings to animals, thinking that they all need to feel feelings. While a human might sing due to the fact that they’re in a good state of mind, that doesn’t always be true for birds. One may even question, do birds have feelings at all?

Let’s get to the bottom of this scenario by seeing what researchers have actually said about birds and feelings in the past.

How Do We Define Emotions?

Corgi dog smile and happy in summer sunny day
Mammals frequently reveal facial expressions to show their feelings, like people.


It’s difficult to conclude whether birds feel feelings without understanding the subject. Yet, the meaning of feeling is not the very same in every source.

According to the American Psychological Association, emotions are conscious reactions in the mind that are “subjectively experienced as strong feelings usually directed toward a specific object.” Furthermore, these responses have physiological and behavioral modifications in the body.

Generally, humans feel six basic emotions as described by Robert Plutchik. They consist of:

  1. Fear
  2. Sadness
  3. Happiness
  4. Anger
  5. Disgust
  6. Surprise

Some individuals think that just 4 real basic feelings exist, integrating anger and disgust together with surprise and worry. Nevertheless, some typical feelings can be discovered in people along with some animals.

Emotions are experienced in a number of methods. They lead to behavioral and physiological modifications. When somebody experiences something enjoyable, their brain will launch dopamine and serotonin. Their joy might likewise cause them feeling butterflies in their stomach or the desire to smile. These are examples of modifications that take place when somebody experiences the feeling of joy.

Knowing the basic principle of feelings and how an individual might experience them, it’s important to think about the aspects needed for a human or animal to feel them at all.

What Is Needed to Feel Emotions?

woman screaming in fear
Fear reactions need awareness and an industrialized main nerve system.


Using the meaning described above, it’s possible to obtain some aspects about the needed things needed to feel feelings. Since the animal requires to be mindful, that omits plants from having feelings.

Another part of experiencing sensations is the requirement to have sensations towards a things. Feelings take place in the central nervous system of animals, consisting of people. In people, the person might experience a feeling that is communicated by the nerves to other parts of the nerve system. The impulses will take a trip through the spine and after that be translated by the brain which then responds to the experience.

So, animals with a CNS that is rather comparable to a human might possibly experience feelings as we understand them. However, it’s not a guarantee they do feel feelings at all, not to mention ones that resemble people.

Can Birds Have Emotions?

Birds feel a range of feelings.

©Danny Ye/

Yes, researchers think that birds have feelings. At least, researchers think that some birds can showing some feelings.

Research into the feelings of birds is not extremely typical. Birds do not have the apparent facial functions or responses that idea people into their sensations, either.

However, an adequate body of proof exists to reveal that specialists believe birds have feelings. One research study discovered that birds feel fear and frustration at the minimum. The research study discovered that birds tend to freeze up when they remain in the existence of something that causes worry. They attempt not to make any noises and they attempt not to move. That might be their method of wishing to stay hidden around predators.

That’s not the only method the birds show worry, however. They engage in passive and active avoidance responses, and their bodies release corticosterone.

Based on those elements, scientists are comfortable saying that birds experience fear at the very least. Thus, birds have emotions, but humans do not completely understand how they’re felt by the animals.

Furthermore, many types of birds exist, and some of them are more emotionally developed than others. For example, smart birds, like crows, parrots, cockatoos, and macaws have powerful cognitive abilities. They may feel a wider array of emotions than other birds.

After all, birds exhibit behaviors that seem to show anger, aggression, depression, and more. Yet, scientists have a long method to go before officially connecting the way birds act with the way they feel. Much of how animals react is based on instinctual responses and learned behaviors instead of emotions.

Humans have a habit of anthropomorphizing animals and their actions, especially their pets. That makes some people attribute emotions to animals where none are occurring. For now, though, it’s enough to say that birds do experience emotions.

Can Birds Feel Happiness?

Upland Buzzard in flight.
Some birds appear to perform acrobatics while flying for fun.


Yes, birds feel happiness, or they at least feel something close to a sensation that humans would identify as that emotion.

Happiness is a complex emotion. As humans know it, happiness is an emotion that could merely be a state of contentment or a sense of fulfillment. Happiness can also be feelings of joy, such as when a human succeeds in an endeavor.

Scientists often break down happiness into two pathways called hedonia and eudaimonia. Hedonia is about personal pleasure and the absence of feelings of suffering. Meanwhile, eudaimonia Is about personal cultivation and satisfaction, doing things that feel right.

Birds seem to experience elements of hedonia. These creatures participate in locomotor, object, and social play. They perform acrobatics while they fly, satisfy their curiosity with new objects, and play tug-of-war with other birds for no apparent reason other than their satisfaction.

Birds seek out fun throughout their lives in play and other ways. For example, researchers think that they may actually sing for pleasure at times rather than only for communication with other birds.

Judging birds’ feelings is not the simplest thing to do. They lack facial features and the musculature that people use as social cues with one another and other animals. Yet, scientists have gathered sufficient evidence to conclude that birds have emotions. A great deal more information is needed to fully comprehend what feelings they feel and how they feel them, however.

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