Many types of birds, such as seagulls, feel all sorts of emotions like grief, happiness and possibly even guilt.
The concept of a bird showing emotions might seem outlandish, but it makes sense. Why wouldn’t creatures that can sometimes replicate language be able to be happy or depressed?
Seagulls in particular have a reputation as malicious, greedy and evil. Which is to say, they have a habit of stealing chips and ice cream. Diabolical.
The next logical step, at least in my eyes, was to ask whether seagulls feel any sort of remorse about their devious deeds.
What is guilt?
Without getting too philosophical, i think we should begin with a definition of guilt. Knowing what exactly it is we’re looking for will help us know if the nefarious sea birds can feel it.
Oxford dictionary defines guilt as “a feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation”. A very nice, eloquent way of describing guilt. I think that gives us a solid basis to begin our search. We’re looking for signs of sadness, remorse or any form of negativity following a bad act. This could mean a seagull stealing some boardwalk chips or pecking a baby that won’t give up it’s donuts.
You may be wondering, and rightfully so, how we know when a bird is upset. A fairly well documented sadness behaviour displayed by birds is related to grief. Upon losing a child or mate, birds will often look around for them or cry despairingly in the hopes they’ll come back.
Birds are surprisingly complex creatures and i think we’ve covered our bases ready to try and answer the big question. Can seagulls feel guilt?
Of course, we can’t be sure. We can’t read the seagulls minds or ask them how they feel. Even if we did ask, they certainty wouldn’t be able to tell us. Another upsetting truth is that there isn’t much research into this question. Shocking, i know.
In the spirit of truth seeking, I’ll give you my best, educated guess. No, they absolutely cannot feel guilt. I’m not one to speak hatefully, but these birds truly don’t feel bad about what they’re doing.
I’m sure we’ve all seen it. You go on a lovely family holiday to nan’s caravan in Skegness, and decide to have a lovely day at the seaside. You pack your towel, and you take a walk down to the seafront. The excitements building, you decide to treat yourself to a lovely 99 flake.
The lovely man at the ice cream stand constructs the most stunning cone you’ve ever seen, you can’t wait. You go to take your first lick, and boom, it’s gone. You’re in shock, you’re in disbelief, and then you see it. a seagull chowing down on YOUR ice cream, with not a care in the world.
For them, they’ve just performed a successful hunt and are now reaping the rewards of their efforts to survive. Why would, why SHOULD they feel bad for keeping themselves alive. You, me, WE want to be mad and we have every right to be, but these birds don’t feel bad and they never will, they’re just trying to survive.
Animal-Club provides animal parties or animal handling workshops. You will be able to see, learn and interact with many wonderful animals with the help of our presenters. Our mobile zoo has many friendly animals such as rabbits, tarantulas, geckos, vinegaroons and more, perfect for an animal party. We can also come over to your school for an animal school visit or arrange for an animal workshop with us where the children can learn about looking after animals and animal behaviour, and have fun too.