Birds can show sympathy and share food with less fortunate birds from the same species. A new study has found that birds, just like people, can show sympathy. Birds seem to care about the fate of conspecifics or members of their species. They notice how much food the others already have and then share theirs with individuals that were not given any.
In the new experiment, researchers found that azure-winged magpies seem to take the other side's perspective into account. Helping others was long seen as typical human behavior. But now scientistsknow that this behavior is not only confined to humans. Primates and some other social mammals shoe prosocial behavior.
While birds also exhibit similar behavior, researchers didn't know weather this is an instinctive behavior or one that takes into account the need of other animals. To investigate prosociality in birds, researchers gave azure-winged magpies. Mealworm quantities that exceeded their needs while the other magpies too had access to this food or were given nothing at all.
The magpie then had the opportunity to share the portion of mealworms with the other birds through the wire-mesh. The researchers discovered that the magpies tend to share food with their peers. They also differentiate between weather others have food or do not have food.
Females mainly shared with the others if they had nothing while males always shared. Researchers think the letter has to "show off" their generosity while females mainly help the other if they have nothing. The azure-winged magpies tend to share food as a response to begging.
But without even begging these magpies share food with less fortunate conspecific. This shows that azure-winged magpies might actually notice the need of others. The study does not only shows that they can exhibit prosocial behavior but also that they may have the same motivation as ours.
This could indicate that they may able to empathize with the situation in which their peers find themselves and act accordingly. Further studies are needed to confirm weather birds show empathy and sympathy.