When you observe birds interacting with each other and watch their behavior, have you ever wondered, do birds kiss? You might have witnessed two birds touching their beaks together and thought, how cute! But, are they actually kissing?
Birds do, in fact, kiss each other during their courtship rituals and while they’re preening. However, it’s not really the same as a kiss between two humans. When birds “kiss”, it appears as if they’re touching their beaks together or even nibbling on each other’s beaks. There are different reasons for this and, more often, it’s not entirely a sign of affection.
However, you might be interested to learn that pet birds, such as parrots, can be trained to touch their owner’s cheek with their beaks and make a sound that’s similar to the sound of a smooch. This can definitely be construed as a sign of affection and is related to the strong bond that the bird has formed with its owner.
Let’s explore this interesting kissing behavior in more detail.
What Does Kissing Mean To A Bird
As humans, we’re prone to look at certain animal behaviors and attribute their meanings to be similar to the same kind of behaviors that we display. However, this is usually not the case. So, what does it mean when a bird appears to kiss another bird.
When birds appear to kiss each other by touching beaks, there could be a number of reason why they do this. For example, male and female hummingbirds are often seen touching beaks as a form of courtship.
Quite often, there also may an exchange of food when these birds appear to kiss. In hummingbird language, this indicates to the female bird that the male is able to provide for the female while mating is taking place.
It’s also quite common for pet parrots and other corvids to kiss the cheek or mouth of their human owners as a sign of affection. These birds are highly intelligent and can often be taught this behavior. However, care should be taken that the bird doesn’t actually nip its owner as this could be quite painful and can also spread disease from the bird to the human.
Another species of birds, lovebirds, often appear to be kissing when they’re close to each other. What they’re actually doing is preening each other. In general, the pair will preen the facial and head feathers of the other bird because these areas are out of reach when self-preening. However, this preening can actually be a sign of affection as well.
You might also witness what appears to be a kiss from a mother bird to her babies. In this instance, what she’s really doing is feeding her young by regurgitating and passing food from her beak to theirs.
What Are Some Common Ways That Birds Show Affection?
While birds touching beaks might not always be a sign of affection, there are various other ways that birds will show their affection to their mate. Here are just a few examples:
- Preening. Birds will often show affection to their mate by preening each other. This preening is common around the face and head since birds are unable to preen their own facial feathers.
- Sharing food. This is most common during courtship when a male bird will give the female a few seeds to show her that he can care for her and also to give her extra stamina for the mating process. Some male birds will even continue to do this while the female is sitting on the nest. It’s also a common way that mother birds care for their young.
- Through vocalization. Many species of birds will make vocal sounds or sing to show their mate that they care.
What Are The Most Common Courtship Rituals That Birds Display?
While kissing may be one of the courtship behaviors that birds display, there are plenty of others. These include:
- You’ll find that many different bird species will sing when they’re trying to attract a mate. In general, it’s only the male birds that will sing during courtship as it’s the female who chooses the bird that she wants to mate with.
- Some bird species, like the Laysan Albatross and Costa’s hummingbird, can do the most interesting dance moves during their courting ritual. Some bird species will even appear to be dancing together. This is usually a group of males who are trying to impress a similar group of females.
- Plumage displays. Of course, everyone would be familiar with the gorgeous tail feathers of the male peacock. This is precisely why male birds often have much brighter feathers than females. They use these to put on the most amazing display in order to attract a possible mate.
- Preening. This often occurs between mated pairs as they preen each other’s feathers to get rid of dirt and dust and to remove broken or damaged feathers.
- Feeding. This is common among many different species of birds where the male bird will feed the female during courtship. For some species, this feeding practice continues even when the female is sitting on the nest.
- Building a nest. This is very common among house wrens. During this process, the male wren will build several different nests. It’s then up to the female bird to decide which nest she likes the best. Mostly though, the nests are incomplete and the female seems to choose the one that has the most potential. She then gets to work completing the nest by lining it and making it more secure.
Do Pet Birds Kiss Their Human Owners?
As we’ve already discussed, pet birds like parrots can show affection to their owners by kissing them on the cheek. This is normally learned behavior and it takes time to train your bird to do this.
It will only happen when the bird is super comfortable with its owner and a certain level of trust has been achieved. Commonly, it’s a way for the bird to show its owner that this trust has been created and a certain bond has been established between the two.
Is It Safe To Kiss Your Bird?
This is something that is not recommended according to top veterinarians. Not only do humans have bacteria in their mouth that can be transferred to the bird, but birds can also carry diseases that can be passed onto humans.
For example, a disease called Psittacosis or parrot fever is commonly found in both captive and wild birds. This disease can be transferred from infected birds to humans so bird owners need to be careful as the disease can cause flu-like symptoms and even pneumonia in humans.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why do birds bite each other with their beaks?
When one bird bites another bird on the beak, it can be seen as an act of aggression. This is especially the case when two male birds bite each other on the beak. In this case, the birds are fighting to establish their own territory and to drive the other bird away from it.
Do pet birds like to have their beaks rubbed?
It’s important to remember that bird beaks are quite sensitive to touch. A pet bird will only let someone they trust, rub their beaks. Therefore, you should not approach a bird who doesn’t know you to rub its beak as this is too confronting for the bird.
Do same sex birds kiss each other?
You might have witnessed birds of the same sex touching their beaks together. They’re not actually kissing but, rather, checking each other out much like dogs sniff each other when they first meet.
Although you might have witnessed kissing behavior between two birds, this does not have the same meaning to what we humans attribute to a kiss. Many times, it happens during courtship and what is actually happening is that the male bird is passing food to the female one.
Kissing is also apparent when two birds are preening each other. What they’re actually doing is preening the feathers, such as those on the face and head, that the other bird can’t reach. However, preening between two mated birds can be seen as a sign of affection.
Pet birds, like parrots, can be taught to kiss their owners on the cheek. That’s because these birds spend more time with humans than with other birds and will quickly learn to pick up certain human traits. You’ll often find that when a parrot kisses its owner’s cheek, it might even make a sound that sounds like a kiss.
So, although it might seem that birds are kissing each other, that’s not really what they’re doing. At least not in the same sense that we understand kissing. More commonly, they’re either sharing food during courtship or they’re carrying out some preening to help their mate by getting rid of dirt from their feathers.
Even same-sex birds can be seen to be kissing when actually they’re just checking each other out.