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Do Pet Birds Grieve?

Pet birds that have formed strong bonds to each other will grieve when one of them passes away.

By Diane Grindol
Posted: October 17, 2006, 2:00 p.m. PST

Excerpt from BIRD TALK Magazine, August 2005 issue, with permission from its publisher, BowTie Magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. To purchase digital back issues of BIRD TALK Magazine, click here.

If you have more than one pet bird, and one of them dies, your remaining bird probably will grieve for his lost friend. Sometimes I think it’s kinder when a bird dies in the presence of the flock, so that they know what happened.

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The kind of grieving you can expect is calling for the bird that is no longer there, searching for him and some depression. At first, the remaining bird may not eat as well as normal and may not want to participate in some activities. When the living bird calls for the bird that has passed away, gently that you understand and that the other bird is not there with you any more. He will understand your gentle tones and be soothed somewhat.

By Gina Cioli/BowTie Inc./Courtesy Andy St. Laurent
If one of your birds die, give the other bird time to grieve.

Birds adjust to changes well, and, after about some weeks, the living bird will probably have a new routine. Birds are much better than people at living “now” rather than thinking of what has been or could have been.

Don’t forget to think of yourself, too. Allow yourself to grieve for the bird that has passed away and to commemorate its life by making a collage, putting up a photo or planting a tree or bush in its honor. Many bird adoption centers and research projects welcome monetary donations in the memory of much loved pets and list your contribution for their membership.

Our memories are always ours to cherish. Honor your pet bird’s memory, keep your still living bird happy, and, after an appropriate amount of time, move on.

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Do Pet Birds Grieve?

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Reader Comments
At the time, I had two orange cheek finch pairs. One of the females escaped while I was cleaning their cage. Sadly the cat got to her before me, and although I rescued her from her mouth, she died the next day. Her mate called and called loudly for three weeks. Every day he will call out and keep looking for her. I finally brought home three more Orange Cheeks. It took a while for the little guy to accept the new ones, but eventually he picked a new mate, and now I have three happy couples. The same male escaped recently, but the cat was out. Now I have the precaution of putting her outside whenever I clean the cage or change their food plates. He was chirping happily and exploring his whereabouts, picking at the artificial plants. And since he stayed in the cage's top, it took me a while to realize that he was out. I took some pics of his beautiful self and then it was time to get him inside again, since he was looking for a way to enter the cage, anyway!
Brigitte, Carolina, PR
Posted: 9/26/2013 7:37:00 AM
Birds are very intelegent, loyal and loving... yes they grieve.
shirley, sheboygan, WI
Posted: 6/21/2012 9:25:21 AM
I had 2 wild birds - a male house sparrow and a male house finch. I had raised the sparrow freshly hatched. He talked up a storm! The house finch came to us a year later as a nestling. These 2 birds became best friends. When the sparrow died many years later, the finch sat in a place where he could see the kitchen, dining room and living room. He screamed at the top of his lungs, "BIT-SEE!!! TIPPY TIPPY" (Bitsy was my sparrow, Buffy was the finch). I hadn't known that the finch could talk until then. He continued this screaming for Bitsy for a month until he exhausted himself and passed away. It was tragic to watch and nothing I did could comfort poor Buffy. My heart broke in a million pieces.
Pat, Palm Desert, CA
Posted: 7/10/2011 1:38:02 PM
How could such intelligent & sensitive creatures not grieve? My birds miss my Lovebird who recently died. They call her by imitating her calls. It breaks my heart. We all miss her.
Bill, Largo, FL
Posted: 5/25/2011 5:11:29 AM
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