Bird behavior refers to the actions of birds in the wild and in captivity. Activities such as feeding, mating, traveling, establishing dominance and communicating are aspects of bird behavior. Most bird behavior is instinctual, while other behaviors are learned. Behavior will vary according to species, environment, sex and age, but the general behaviors of birds can be observed and interpreted.
Male birds sing to attract mates. Male and female birds alike vocalize to signify danger or distress, or to simply signify that they are present. Baby birds will chirp when hungry or to alert their mothers. Each bird's vocalization is unique and recognizable to the mom. Some birds, such as the parakeet, can mimic human speech. They hear your words and learn them, then repeat them.
In the wild, many birds hunt for small animals or graze on plant life. In captivity, most pet birds are fed bird seed or other bird food, and some will eat out of your hand. If you place a bird feeder to attract birds to your garden or yard, you will notice birds perching there to eat. Typically, pet birds will bob their heads when they're hungry or if they expect to be fed.
Dominance and the Pecking Order
Birds fight for dominance in the wild and sometimes even in captivity. They might chirp or screech, peck, bite, scratch or otherwise fight other birds and other animals. When kept as pets, some birds will try to establish dominance, so it is important to train them to know they are subordinate to you, the pet owner. One way to convey your dominance to a pet bird is to never allow it to perch above your head. If you want to have multiple pet birds, it is ideal to get them together when they are young and of the same species. If you want to have multiple species of birds, you may have to have separate cages. Consult with a pet store bird specialist or veterinarian to determine which birds are compatible.
One typical myth about birds is that they all mate for life. While some birds such as the wandering albatross do mate for life, others mate for a few months or years. Birds also have been observed to cheat on their mates. Typical pre-mating behavior includes chirping, singing, and prancing or dancing.
Birds clean themselves and each other to keep their feathers in optimal condition. They open their beaks and lightly bite off fleas or debris, then close their beaks and use the tip like a comb to preen their feathers. In addition to using their beaks to preen, birds might splash around in water, such as in birdbaths placed in gardens or in a bowl placed in a cage.
In the wild, many species of birds fly to warmer locations in the winter. They often travel in flocks, and some travel thousands of miles. They mainly do this to find food, and it is instinctual behavior. In captivity, a pet bird will still fly, even when confined to a small cage.
Birds build nests in which to lay their eggs in the wild. Nests can be made of a variety of material, from tree branches and leaves, to artificial objects like plastic and other debris. In captivity, birds like to have a bird house, perch or resting place where they will often sit or sleep. Some species of wild birds are attracted to bird houses placed outside; certain species gravitate to certain types; other birds derive their sanctuaries from nature alone.