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Do Birds Kiss? (And What It Means)

There isn’t a doubt that there are many advantages to adopting a pet. Animals bring warmth and love into the lives of their owners. In many instances, pets are known even to improve the mental health of their owners as loyal and affectionate companions.

Even reptilian, aquatic, and avian animals greatly improve the quality of life for their lucky owners. Yet, it isn’t common to find a fish showing affection to its guardian.

Although, many marine animal experts believe that even fish do form attachments with other fish and even their guardians. Yet, there is never any physical show of love.

So when you see your birds touching their beaks together, you may be wondering, do birds kiss? Yes, birds kiss each other during courtship or preening and can even be trained to bump their beaks against a human’s cheek and make a kissing sound.

So, read on to find out more about affectionate bird behaviors and what kissing in birds means.

What Does It Mean When Birds Kiss?

Unfortunately, humans tend to project their behavioral standards upon animals too. So, while you will see birds kiss, not all birds kiss simply to show affection.

There are many species of birds that kiss as a way of courtship. Before the mating season arrives, male and female hummingbirds are seen kissing. Birds often touch beaks to exchange food as well. Male hummingbirds feed the females to show that they can provide for the female hummingbird while mating.

Parrots and corvids are intelligent creatures who can learn many tricks and sounds from their environment. You may see a parrot kiss their owner on the cheeks or mouth to demonstrate its fondness for them as well. They can also be trained to do this with positive reinforcement from someone they trust.

Another instance where you may find birds kissing is with lovebirds. It’s easy to assume that lovebirds live up to their name by being super affectionate with one another all the time. Hence, the kissing.

But, when lovebirds kiss, they are cleaning each other. Another term for cleaning each other up when it comes to birds is preening. It is a fact that preening is a sign of adoration and closeness in birds.

But, preening can be a chore too. Female birds will preen their young and regurgitate to feed them. Moreover, if the chicks are too young, you will see that female birds kiss their babies to feed them directly from their mouths. 

How Do Birds Kiss?

As mentioned earlier, sometimes birds touch beaks to feed each other. To the untrained eye, it appears to be a kiss. Yet, many domestic birds learn to kiss from their humans.

Parrots, in particular, kiss much the same way humans do. They touch their beak to the cheek or mouth of their owners. Some make smooching sounds. Others go as far as to use their tongue to get a lick almost in a dog-like manner.

However, beak touching shouldn’t be misconstrued as only a loving gesture. There are times when birds touch beaks to show dominance. For example, in parakeets, a kiss can be translated into exploring a newcomer’s presence or the acceptance and tolerance of a flock member.

Conversely, it can be a clear indication of aggression. In such circumstances, pet parents are advised to keep a close eye on their winged friends.

Yet, birds do show affection in many ways. And not just by way of kissing. Moreover, birds also show affection when serially monogamous (taking new partners during every breeding season) or as a bonded pair. 

Do All Birds Stay With The Same Mate?

In the wild, many birds form attachments that last their entire lives. Now, granted, birds don’t live very long lives, but that doesn’t undervalue their level of commitment. However, long-term attachments aren’t a thing with all kinds of birds.

You see, different species of birds depict varying behavioral norms. For example, avian experts often remark that some of the birds that form lifelong pair bonds have the largest brain compared to body size.

These birds usually live in flocks, follow standards and procedures according to the rules of their flock, and spend their lives with a single mate. The corvids and the parrots tend to fall into this category.

Other birds, such as the mynah, do have long-term relationships. But, if their mates die, they move on with relative ease. Birds such as swans and eagles also stay with a single mate until their mate dies. Only then do they look for other mates.

And, finally, you have birds like house wrens and hummingbirds with multiple mates in their lives, and the female bird does the nesting on their own. But, do all birds kiss and behave much the same way as humans when showing affection?

How Do Birds Court?

Courtship is never easy. And, for birds, it can be quite challenging and tiring to attract a female counterpart’s attention. Not to mention, there is plenty of competition.

You will find birds kissing as an attempt to bribe their prospective partners with meals and treats. Additionally, you will notice that birds use every possible weapon within their arsenal to disarm their current sweetheart.

1. Singing

Many bird species sing or dance to attract mates. It is a way to make themselves look desireable as mate material. Birds from mute swans to bald eagles sing to lure a mate. In some species, only the males sing, and the female response is seen as bonding or acceptance of the offer. 

Yet, singing in some birds is also a means to warn off competition and claim territory. So, singing can lead to undesirable results, especially during mating season.

2. Dancing 

Not many birds dance. But, those who do can give quite a performance. It is a pastime that many bird watchers relish during the mating season. You may even see your bird bobbing its head to music.

Some birds even form groups, like people in a nightclub dancing collectively, to gain the attention of females nearby. In addition, parrots and peacocks show off their plumage, some birds show strength, and others exhibit endurance. 

The Laysan Albatross, Red-capped Manakin, Costa’s Hummingbird, and Magnificent Riflebird are examples of bird species that need to cut a rug to woo their partners. 

3. Displays

You won’t find a better display of beauty and majesty than a peacock display. Now, when you look at the simpler and very ordinary brown peahen, you might wonder what the fuss is about. But, in truth, male birds often have brighter plumage and more vibrant feathers designed to attract females.

From Papua New Guinea, birds of paradise dangle from a branch to win over their partner’s affections. On the other hand, peregrines are acrobats that tumble through the air to catch the eye of the fairer sex. You will see everything from puffed-up chests to raised crests and flared wings for displays from the birds.

4. Preening

Here’s something that resembles kissing. But, preening is when birds clean each other. And, in most cases, it is a sign of love. Preening can involve arranging feathers, plucking out damaged feathers, or keeping out ectoparasites from the plumage.

Preening can also mean that the birds are waterproofing their feathers with preen oil that comes from the uropygial gland at the base of the tail.

Oddly enough, parakeets and budgies tend to preen their pet guardians too. Again, it shows a sense of trust and bonding between pet and pet parents.

5. Feeding

This is what kissing usually boils down to when it comes to most species of birds. However, some birds, mostly parrots, tend to kiss to show love and trust. The rest, on the other hand, regurgitate into the mouth of their partners to feed them. 

The placing of the beaks is to make sure no food is wasted, but it sure looks an awful lot like kissing. You see, food is precious for birds of all shapes and sizes. It signifies the difference between survival and extinction.

Most males carry out this practice, not just in the mating season. But, some avian male creatures continue to feed the female bird while it is nesting too.

6. Building

The house wren is very adept when it comes to building. The male wren builds several nests for the female it wants to mate with. And the female will choose one out of many.

Now, most of the nests that the male wren builds are incomplete. And, it is rumored that the female will often opt for the one nest that has the most potential.

After making a selection, the female then begins to complete the nest. The completion of the test involves placing a lining into the nest to make it more secure. So, you have the house wren that works as an architect and a female that functions as the interior designer.

However, some male bird species go for building intricate yet fascinating nests to lure their mates. The more grand the design of the nest, the more likely the male bird is to win over the heart and hand of the mate it wants.

Related Questions

Now that you know about the several different ways that birds can show affection, it will be easier for you to understand why your own bird is acting in a certain way.

Yet, there are many pet parents out there who may stilll find themselves bewildered by the behavior of their feathered friends. Read on to find answers to some of the commonly-asked questions.

Why Do Birds Bite Each Other’s Beaks?

Beak biting is a sign of aggression. It usually involves two males trying to establish territory. In a flock of birds, you can expect bullying. And, whenever there is one clear leader, you may see it peck at the beak of the other birds to show dominance. 

In the wild, birds do have similar attitudes towards other males. If one male has gained dominance, it will accept the presence of other males. But, there will be displays of power. And, the easiest way to do so is to bite the beak of another bird. 

How Do You Know When Birds Are Fighting?

In most circumstances, there is always more than one sign associated with shows of affection or aggression. Now, there are times when you may see two birds appear to be kissing, but it could be two males, where one bird is biting the other’s beak to show dominance. 

It becomes simpler to tell the difference between the two behaviors as other actions become evident simultaneously. For example, an aggressive bird usually has puffed-up feathers and raised wings. You may hear hissing from some. You may even catch one bird trying to bite the other bird on its feet

There may be loud squawking or screeching at times. One bird may guard the food and water to prevent the other from eating or drinking. And, if you have domestic birds, one bird may not allow another to rest upon the same perch. 

Sometimes, when things get out of hand, you may even witness an actual wrestling match between two birds. Budgies and parakeets are very calm and tranquil birds normally. But, they too have been known to wrestle on certain occasions, especially during mating and breeding season.

Do Birds Like To Have Their Beaks Rubbed?

Well, the answer to this question cannot be a simple yes or no. You see, parakeets do tend to enjoy their beaks being rubbed by someone they know and trust. But, that only works with people with whom they have a bond. In most circumstances, they only like their human family to get so close. 

Bird beaks are sensitive to touch. Hence, birds do not always allow other beings, be it birds or humans, to get close enough to their beaks. Unless there is a level of trust that the approaching party will not cause any hurt or damage. Strangers are not welcome to rub their beak, though. 

Where Should You Not Pet Your Bird?

So, you have to understand that birds take their time to get comfortable with the presence of humans around them. If you have recently adopted your bird and try to pet it often, it will not allow you. Instead, it will bite your hand and try to scratch it.

However, once your bird is used to your presence, you may pet it. It is always a good idea to pet birds close to the head, chest, and feet. It would help if you never attempted to stroke your bird close to its tail or under its wings.

You see, a young bird may not respond to such petting with anger, but a bird close to sexual maturity will become agitated.

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