I bet the first thing that came to your mind, was...

  • because humans are evil and hurt animals
  • because we're bigger than birds
  • because we are louder than birds
  • because of all of the above


I am not an owner of a bird. I only admire them. However, I know in myself that I am not an angry, upset, jittery or violent person. I smile at people, strangers and I say hello to people - and yes, sometimes animals like dogs and cats. But when I come across equally as caring and gentle as I can with birds, they fly off. They simply don't trust anything or anyone. Yet when they are in captivity, they just about melt in your hands. Which is why I won't own one as a pet in a cage. I believe that is cruel.

Why should birds, in general, not the prey-like ones because they will attack in the wild, be afraid of people trying simply to be kind to them?

More on the emotions of birds here.

  • All birds are prey animals to a wide range of hunters and only the ones raised by humans have learned to trust us to a point.
    – Willeke
    Jun 25, 2018 at 4:26
  • How would you react if a large monster 100 times your size came by, whether it seemed to have one of those cryptic monster-smiles and was saying blah blah blork gurgle blop (means Hi there little human in monster-speak) or not? Jun 25, 2018 at 11:03
  • @OlinLathrop: Or saying, "Why are you so skittish, little birdies?"
    – Drew
    Jun 26, 2018 at 23:17

3 Answers 3


We are bigger, and bigger things eat you.

It's really that simple. Go to a park in town, and many birds will be very friendly towards humans. Go to a beach and seagulls will be more than happy to get very close.

The simple fact is we are bigger, that's scary. That's really all there is to it. But if the birds become used to humans, then they're not scared of us at all.

  • 1
    Not neccessarily true. Birds aren't afraid of cows, elephants, etcs. They're a lot bigger than we are, but don't scare birds more.
    – user12449
    Jun 25, 2018 at 7:00
  • Go to a park in town, and many birds will be very friendly towards humans. Go to a beach and seagulls will be more than happy to get very close.
    – coteyr
    Jun 25, 2018 at 21:39
  • They are used to cows. Not used to humans
    – coteyr
    Jun 25, 2018 at 21:39

A lot of this is the natural instinct, birds that didn't fear humans got wiped out in earlier times, natural selection selects for birds that avoided getting eaten.

Today in urban places the ducks or Canadian Geese who have been fed by humans have less fear and can even become aggressive towards humans.

Also, the birds you meet in the wild have no idea that you don't mean to hurt them, don't take it personally.


I don't have any specific reference or source for this reason, but I believe it to be valid, myself.

Like with some/most humans, specific shapes (think spider), trigger reflexes to avoid or keep distance.

I think, when most herbavores can see both of our eyes, it triggers a 'predator alert' (because most predators are bifocal, and the eyes are placed in a plane in the face, not on both sides of the head).

  • just my two cents' worth

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