do birds remember their parents

Have you ever wondered if the birds at your bird feeders remember you? Do birds remember us? The research is clear and documented: birds do recognize human faces and voices. They can even differentiate between us. Here’s what we know.

Birds Remember Your Face

do birds remember their parents

Although many wild birds have been documented, both scientifically and anecdotally, to recognize humans, certain birds are more known for it. Crows, magpies, pigeons, robins, mockingbirds, and jackdaws have some of the most well-documented cases of facial recognition.

Crows are thought to be among the smartest birds; they are remarkably good at remembering faces and reacting to expressions on them. Even after you change into new clothes, pigeons recognize you, and if you’ve previously shooed them, they’re more likely to move aside. Additionally, magpies can recall faces and the behaviors associated with them for years. For example, people who have previously approached a magpie nesting site too closely may get swooped the next time the bird spots them. Conversely, those who provide them with food and water have created a lifelong friend in the magpie.

Birds Remember Your Kindness

do birds remember their parents

Birds remember good deeds, whether they are hanging bird feeders, planting native berry bushes, or erecting bird houses and nest boxes. Indeed, they will frequently visit locations where they are aware of being welcomed. Additionally, certain untamed avian species, such as the amiable American Robin, closely observe when you replenish feeders and clean your birdbath. Indeed, a lot of people who feed the birds in their backyard say they have a remarkable ability to sense when the feeder needs to be refilled. That’s because they always have access to a consistent supply of food and water. It’s also due to their keen senses: wild birds listen for water to trickle and use their extraordinary vision to find even the tiniest seeds (as well as birds that are gathering and feeding). Therefore, don’t assume that your insignificant act of filling a bird feeder has gone unnoticed the next time!

Here’s how to build a backyard bird sanctuary that your feathered friends will want to visit again and again.

Birds Remember—and Dislike—Eye Contact

do birds remember their parents

We’re often told to look people in the eye—whether it’s on a date, in a job interview, or meeting a new friend. But in the wild bird world, direct eye contact signals danger. That’s because it mimics the gaze that a predator has on its prey. So when humans look directly at a bird, or even in their direction, birds take note. One UK study by the University of Bristol found that starlings kept away from their food dish if a human was gazing in its direction, only to feed as soon as the human looked elsewhere.

Crows, too, are very responsive to human eye contact. Research shows that when humans gaze directly at crows, they fly away with greater urgency than when humans approach them without a glance. Most birds don’t care for direct eye contact from humans, so if you’re looking to forge a bird bond, best avert your gaze.