Do Birds Play? Understanding Avian/Birds Playing Behavior

Do Birds Play

We all know the famous saying, all work, and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well, this might surprise you but it applies to birds as well! 

Both backyard birds, as well as birds in the thick and wild, enjoy a little time off of their usual routines to engage in some playful mischief and entertainment. 

From fierce shows of avian aerobatics to fast and enthralling chases to teasing and playing with other fellow birds.

A bird’s manifestation of fun shows up in varied and interesting and it brings Avian behaviorists much joy to observe and learn about them and their ways.

But how do we know it is playing and that it is not actually the birds engaged in something else? 

Behavior in birds that denotes that they are having fun can be whittled down to the simple factor that those activities serve no other purpose to the bird other than sharpening either their motor skills or their social skills. 

Not only does play keep the birds physically active and engaged, but it is extremely mentally stimulating as well and is crucial for their proper development, just as it is in human babies. 

So today we are going to take an in-depth look at the different birds that play, what their playing looks like, and the possible reasons why they engage in this behavior.

Which Are The Birds That Play?

Though the appearance of play is pretty common in mammals in the animal kingdom, the exact number of bird species in which play has been found generally 13 out of the 27 orders have been observed to engage in some form of playing or the other. 

The most dominant two groups within this were the crow family and the parrot family.

The crow family, which is a wide category of birds termed as Corvidae, consists of jays, crows, ravens, magpies, rooks, and so on. 

The other most dominant playing birds, which are the parrot family are referred to as psittacines, are a category that consists of birds like parrots, macaws, parakeets, and keas. 

Both these families are considered as playful as other primates and mammals in the animal kingdom. 

This includes avian acrobatics, different kinds of social play, manipulating objects, and even play fighting.

In almost all birds, the young ones socialize with the others, though the extent of play and how many birds carry their play into their mature years is based on the species and their sociability and adaptability. 

The type of play they engage in also varies depending on what set of skills they wish to sharpen according to their habitat and other factors. Speaking of types of birds plays, there are several. Let’s take a look at those!

Types Of Bird Play

There are a variety of behaviors that birds engage in that could be interpreted as play, and while many of these might not seem strictly like entertainment or fun to us, they are done for no other reason than for the fun of it and thus are referred as playing for them.

Searching and Seeking

Birds love to wander around, of course, pecking and prodding at things in their way.

Yet, apart from scavenging for food, birds also just search for and seek out things for the sake of it, often seeking out unique and new objects and noting their presence. 

This is a crucial part of their environmental awareness but they also just seem to have a really good time doing it.

Manipulation Of Objects

Even when objects have no value to be a food resource or pose any threat of any kind to the birds themselves, birds have been seen to use their bills, beaks, and talons to manipulate objects in some way or the other.

Their behavior includes tearing, tossing, bending, dropping, or even ripping into these objects.

Taunting and Teasing

Even called play fighting, this is a phenomenon where they tease and make deliberate efforts to taunt or harass others.

Interestingly, they don’t limit their taunting to their own species and have, on many occasions, been observed to tease or instigate fights with household cats.

Why Do Birds Play?

Just like different birds engage in different kinds of playful behavior, so do different behaviors have their own ways of contributing to growth and development.

Birds, when they are in investigative play, learn a lot about their environment, about what is edible and what is not, and also get a window to release their curiosity, learning lessons along the way. 

As birds develop their searching ability, so do they develop their ability to use their different senses to figure out their way in the world.

In manipulative play, on the other hand, they learn essential motor skills required for their proper development. 

The simple grabbing and releasing techniques they include in their play now will, later on, contribute to their learning of activities like building nests, extracting food from trees and the ground, capturing prey, and so on. 

While games of teasing and taunting, it is more of social learning. They also learn to be agile and alert and cautious of their surroundings as well as learn to defend their territories.

In Conclusion

That was another venture into the wonderfully curious world of birds.

Play is as crucial to young birds as it is for young humans, and is an essential component of their growth and development. We hope you learned something new today.

Thank you for reading!

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