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Do Pigeons Have Feelings?

Do Pigeons Have Feelings?

When we look at pigeons, we may think that these birds are emotionless and wacky animals that wander in the city in search of a good bite to eat wherever they can. In that sense, we often think that whatever we do around and to these birds doesn’t affect their feelings and emotions as they may seem like blank-faced robots. So, in that regard, do pigeons really have feelings or are they as emotionless as they look?

There is no evidence that pigeons or birds do have feelings but those who observe pigeons know that there are indications that these birds can show feelings in their own different ways. That’s why you need to look at the different clues regarding what your pigeon is doing so that you will know what it is feeling.

Again, we often believe that pigeons don’t have emotions because they look blank-faced and seemingly robotic in terms of their daily routine. However, even though there are no clear studies that show that pigeons show feelings, it still is best to observe your pigeon properly so that you will see some indications that may lead to the possibility that your bird is showing emotions. This will make you an even better pigeon owner.

Birds and feelings

One of the most popular pets in the world includes a lot of different species of birds that each have their own uniqueness in terms of their looks and behavior. A lot of different bird species are also quite intelligent in their own right as they are capable of complex decisions that not a lot of other pets are capable of doing. However, one of the things we often think of when we look at a pet bird is its blank face.

Unlike how dogs and cats usually show feelings and emotions through their faces and their actions, we can’t say the same when it comes to pet birds because of how they seemingly don’t show their emotions at all. This has led us to believe that birds don’t have feelings due to how seemingly blank and emotionless their faces are and how it can be tough to decipher feelings through the actions that these birds do. So, are birds as emotionless as we think of them to be?

The truth is that there is no clear scientific conclusion as to whether or not birds have feelings or emotions. That’s because this isn’t an area that has been studied a lot and because of how it can be really tough to actually see whether or not a certain animal is showing feelings. And while scientists can easily test the brainpower of birds, the same cannot be said when it comes to their feelings because of how emotions tend to be a bit more ambiguous than intelligence.

However, even though there is no clear evidence regarding the presence of feelings in birds, bird owners who have spent plenty of time together with their birds would beg to differ. That’s because they often observe that birds can actually show emotions through a lot of different actions even though such actions may appear vague and ambiguous at times. But the fact that birders have plenty of experience around their birds, it has become easy for them to conclude that birds do have feelings and unique personalities, which they often express through their behavior or through clues that might seem difficult to decipher for the inexperienced person but are actually quite clear for an experienced bird owner.

That said, it is debatable that birds do indeed have feelings because of how birders have the opportunity to experience things that scientists can’t. And what we are talking about here is the bond between a bird owner and a bird as this is something that scientists don’t share with birds that they study.

As such, those who have formed bonds with their pet birds may be able to see actions and behaviors that are reminiscent of feelings and emotions. They understand that birds can be moody at times and that they may show stress, loneliness, and happiness during certain stretches. All of those are indicative of how birds can actually show feelings and emotions.

In that regard, because of how familiar bird owners are with their birds, they are able to observe the emotions that no other person can see. After all, you need to actually interact with a pet bird to understand what it is feeling and whether or not it actually has any feelings at all. And this is why, when scientists try to study wild or domesticated birds, it can be tough to come to a conclusion that they have feelings.

Do pigeons have feelings?

Now that we have discussed that birds can indeed have feelings, does that hold the same when it comes to the common pigeon? After all, when we often walk through city streets and observe pigeons perched up on telephone poles or even walking on the streets looking for scraps, the one thing that stands out is the blank face that pigeons wear. The way these pigeons behave may even seem wacky yet robotic at times. So, do pigeons also have feelings?

Again, just like with any other bird species, it can be very difficult to truly tell whether or not pigeons have feelings. It may even be more difficult with pigeons because these birds are some of the most blank-faced and less vocal birds on the planet. That said, even if they do have feelings, the fact that they don’t readily display their feelings is what makes it difficult to tell whether or not pigeons have feelings.

However, if you have actually spent time with pigeons such as when you feed the common pigeons near your area or if you actually own a pigeon, you may somehow observe certain actions that are indicative of feelings.

  1. They tend to wait for an initiator

If you have experienced feeding a flock of pigeons, you would know that these birds are not as robotic as you might think. When you give them food, one of the things you might notice is that they won’t come quickly enough to eat immediately. Instead, they wait and see until one of them initiates. While this isn’t indicative of feelings, it is indicative of how pigeons are not as robotic as most people tend to think.

  1. They care about their fellow pigeons

Another habit that you might notice when you feeding pigeons is that some of the birds in the flock actually care enough about the other birds to the point that they stand guard to check if bigger birds or cats will take advantage of the situation. This means that they may have enough emotions to actually care about other pigeons.

  1. They sometimes dance

Another observation that you might have when you are feeding pigeons is that they may show some kind of a ritual dance of happiness while eating. This can be seen when they are circling around or rotating while eating. Some birders think that this is how the pigeons express their joy when they are getting fed. This isn’t something you will notice when it comes to other wild birds such as crows, for example.

  1. They value life

Aside from probably the occasional worm or bug lying around somewhere, you might have noticed how pigeons almost never eat other animals or insects. These birds would rather eat soil, seeds, and grains even though they do sometimes eat insects and invertebrates. As such, this may lead you to think that pigeons are innocent birds that know the value of life and are more likely to eat plant-based food because of how they don’t want to harm other creatures.

How do pigeons show emotion?

Again, we cannot say for certain that pigeons do indeed show feelings and emotions. But if they do, here are some of the things that you may end up seeing if you try to observe pigeons in the wild and how they behave together with their flock:


Like any other bird, courtship is also present in pigeons as this is something they need to do to win over the affection of another pigeon. That is why you might end up seeing pigeons showing signs of love or preening mutually such as when they share their food. And when the pigeons are already mated, they may even end up showing a lot of emotions towards their hatchlings as birds are some of the best parent animals in the world.

Pigeons also mate for life, and that can be indicative of how they value the bond they have with their mates. That is why you will often see mated pigeons together and showing certain actions of affection that aren’t always seen in other birds. After all, being devoted means that you actually have feelings towards your partner.


Fear is a feeling, and that is something that pigeons will actually display in their own way when they are afraid of something. As mentioned, we said that there are some pigeons that tend to stand guard whenever you feed an entire flock. That is because they fear other predators that would actually want to take advantage of the situation as the pigeons are eating. Of course, when pigeons run away from predators such as cats or bigger birds, this is indicative of fear or the fight or flight response that all animals have. 


Anger is not all too uncommon in birds because you do see them in crows and other corvids when they gang up on you after you bullied one of them. While not as apparent in pigeons, they may also show their anger at times such as when they do threatening poses or when they may hiss or make noises whenever they are angry at another bird or at an intruder. This is something that you might observe when you feed your pigeons as some pigeons might show anger towards their fellow birds when they are competing for food.


Again, grief isn’t uncommon in the bird world as several species of birds, such as corvids, tend to hold “funerals” when showing their grief towards a dead friend. In the case of the pigeon, this may sometimes happen when you see how a pigeon changes in terms of its usual behavior when a close flock-mate or even its mate dies. And when a chick dies, pigeons may even try to look for it in a manner that is indicative of grief and stress.


Of course, like most birds, pigeons are capable of showing their joy such as when they do certain actions or make noises whenever they are happy. As we mentioned a while ago, it is not uncommon for pigeons to “dance” when you feed them because this can be a form of how they show their happiness. Happiness in pigeons can even be expressed in how they let their guard down and simply feel relaxed without worrying about their surroundings.

Are pigeon feelings just instinctual?

At the end of the day, while we did give you examples of how pigeons could show feelings, all of those could just be instinctual behaviors that they have formed over hundreds or even thousands of generations. For example, courtship in birds is as much an instinctive behavior as it may be an emotional one. That is where it becomes difficult to draw a line between the “feelings” that pigeons may display and the natural instinctive habits that they practice.

This is why scientists don’t have a definite answer as to whether or not pigeons or birds, in general, are capable of showing feelings. Still, the fact that these birds are still showing indications of emotions can be good enough for us to believe that there is a chance that they actually have feelings. And that is more than enough for most bird owners out there.