Since you have decided to fly on this page, I am sure that you share a strong fascination with birds just like us! While we know about most of the behaviors depicted by birds, ornithophiles are left with a burning doubt. Why do birds rub their beaks? There are multifarious reasons behind this.
Birds rub their beaks to clean themselves after the diet on vegetables, keep their beaks pointed and smooth, and also to show aggression. Birds like parrots express emotions by rubbing their beak and to show sleepiness. Pair of northern gannet rub beaks with each other to signal harmony and peace.
Reasons why birds rub their beaks and related behavior
Below are reasons why birds rub their beaks and different other aspects of it such as how they adjust different other things based on their requirements of how their beak should be.
Our feathered friends have a lot in common with us. Likewise, the primary reason for birds to rub their beaks on surfaces like branches is to clean themselves. Since soft and squishy vegetables make up 30 percent of their diet, it is likely for them to get messy as they eat.
A review from 1970 by ornithologist George A. Clark, Jr. implied this behavior as the napkin principle. The observation also showed birds like passerines clean their beak on clotheslines or any other foreign surfaces. However, some birds were seen to have inconsistent patterns like finches as they wiped their bill up to 90 times in a few minutes.
On the other hand, if you are a bird-parent, you should make sure your bird receives a pelleted diet consisting of essential nutrients like probiotics and omega-3 to keep them healthy. Moreover, the remaining 10 percent of their palate should consist of some treats to keep them happy! If you are particular about your bird chipping their perch, you can clean their beak with a napkin.
A beak of a bird grows consistently throughout its lifetime. One of the major reasons behind birds rubbing their beaks on surfaces is to groom themselves. Birds stroke their beaks to point the edges and keep them smooth. According to de la Navarre, birds portray this behavior to maintain the perfect shape of their beaks.
In addition, the beaks are composed of keratin. Foraging, eating and other activities can strip the outer layer of a beak. This is why species like Starlings, etc often transpose their eating habits at several times of the year. They generally resort to eating bugs and worms during the mating season, while they prefer fruits and seeds during the autumn and winter seasons. Hence, their food habits also play a significant role in shaping their beaks or contributing to their bill-wiping behavior.
Similarly, if you have pet bird(s), you can help them out with pedicure perches that are exclusively designed to help birds clean and shape their beaks. Make sure to choose soft and sturdy perches to avoid callouses on your bird’s feet.
Birds are expressive creatures. They express emotions in a lot of ways. Likewise, rubbing beaks on surfaces also indicates temper or aggression. In addition, handling a pet bird with signs of territorial behavior should be done carefully. Firstly, you have to establish trust. This can be done by treating your birds with treats while invigorating your bird to approach you.
Birds, especially parrots are fond of rubbing their beaks. They rub their beaks on almost anything they can find. While many associate this with aggressive behavior, it is not the case always. Most of the time, birds like parrots or budgies rub their beaks to express emotions or mostly when they need something.
One of the common reasons behind this is to clean themselves after a meal. Apart from this, birds also rub their beaks on surfaces to groom themselves or sharpen their beaks. However, most birds portray this kind of manners when it experiences a feeling of security and pleasure. In other cases, birds like parrots grind their beaks to show sleepiness.
A 1992 research showed that Starlings tend to wipe their beaks more than usual after having moist or sloppy food, compared to dry foods. These mannerisms also have a significant role in determining a bird’s beak shape and length. Moreover, birds prefer soft surfaces rather than tough or rough ones to avoid abrasions. Studies also implied that birds with rough beaks usually pick their food faster than the others.
In addition, another study by Clark in 1970 also associated the behavior with social interactions similar to head-scratching, or fidgeting.
Beaks are very important for birds. Most of their sense of touch is concentrated on their beaks and feet. Birds can experience eat, cold, and pain in their feet. However, their beaks consist of a majority of the nerve endings and blood vessels, hence rubbing their beak provides them with pleasure.
Moreover, species like parrots, especially enjoy getting their beaks rubbed. Hence, if you have a parrot, you can make them happy with just a rub. However, before getting close, make sure to have a trustworthy connection with your pet to avoid getting bitten. In some cases, rubbing a parrot’s beak is compared to holding hands, Hence, rubbing their beaks not only pleases them but also makes them feel safe in their surroundings making them more comfortable when you are around.
Birds love to express themselves in any way possible. Some fidget and some rub their beaks on surfaces. However, not all birds portray the same behavior. Species like Budgies, Pesquet’s parrot, cockatoo, Rosy Starling, Chestnut Tailed Starling, etc tend to show the beak rubbing technique. Different species of finches, on the other hand, tend to vigorously wipe their more than any other bird on the list. Hence, it can be easily concluded that the mannerisms associated with rubbing beaks a bird widely vary from species to species, however, most of them rely on such behavior to attract attention, groom themselves or even clean themselves after a moist meal of sloppy vegetables.