With millions of species of birds, it has become more common to own a few or even raise them for food and other domestic products. Birds make faithful pets, but they are also spectacular in the wild. Here are a few differences between domesticated birds and birds in the wild.
Origin of Domesticated Birds
The term "domesticated" doesn't necessarily mean that a particular bird is pet material. The canary, cockatiel and parrot are all birds that are fit for use as household pets. On the other hand, chickens, turkeys, geese, pigeons and doves are bred on farms for use in daily life as food (poultry), for their feathers (geese) and for special use in events (doves).
Originally, these same birds were wild birds that lived and died in the wild. It wasn't until people realized their importance and usefulness that they were captured, raised in captivity and bred in farms. Because domesticated birds are practically a different species than their wild counterparts, domesticated birds and wild birds might share physical appearance, but differ in other ways.
Domesticated birds survive mainly on grains and enriched feed fed to them at specific times of the day. They are on strict diets to promote health, longevity or productivity. In some cases, their diets are in place to ensure that the bird is well fed and fattened for killing and selling in markets (poultry).
Wild birds are a little gamier than their caged brethren. Because they must survive in the wild, they must "hunt" and kill their own food. Wild birds survive on bugs, seeds and in some cases other animals (birds of prey). Because they must hunt to eat, wild birds don't have the chance to get as fat as domesticated birds, so they are more sinew than meat.
As many people know, birds are one of the few animals on earth that mate for life. They choose a mate and spend the rest of their lives breeding with that one male or female. Domesticated birds don't have that luxury. Because they are bred in captivity, most of the actual breeding occurs in labs and at the hands of farm workers. The workers harvest the sperm from the male and manually impregnate the female to make her produce eggs.
In the wild, birds put on quite the show in order to attract a mate. Male birds will dance, sing and fight to attract the attention of fertile females. Once the female has chosen, they mate.
Understandably, domesticated birds tend to live longer than wild birds (unless they are bred as food). Domesticated birds have the luxury of living in a protected environment where their every need is attended to. Wild birds must survive purely on instinct and luck, and many don't survive the threat of natural predators and hunting season.
Without the domestication of birds, there would be an immense shortage of food, household products (pillows), clothing (down jackets) and eggs. What would we do without our scrambled eggs at breakfast or our subzero-rated coats? Domesticated birds are an essential part of human survival.
However, wild birds have their own place in the order of things. Without wild birds, whole ecosystems would fall apart; without prey, predators would die off and with them entire species of animals would fall extinct.