Apologies in advance for the ridiculous amount of yawns that reading this post will engender. (Our first victim appears to be the Ring-billed Gull above, photographed by Corey.)  Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Science is fairly well established that yawning can spread like wildfire among groups of humans, as well as a few other mammals. New research suggests that the phenomenon of contagious yawning can also be seen in birds. (Click here to go directly to the study.)

Scientists from the State University of New York at Oneonta (SUNY Oneonta to natives) studied parakeets (also known as budgies). In one experiment, yawns were observed when birds in neighboring cages could see each other, and again when views of adjacent birds were blocked. In the other study, the birds—which seem to be great mimics of videos—were shown footage of budgies yawning.

The amount of yawns increased significantly when the test birds could see others—whether real, or on a screen—also yawning. This finding doesn’t help scientists fully understand why contagious yawning is a thing, but it does suggest that these birds might be useful for further studies of empathetic behaviors. In the meantime, though, please excuse me as I let out the whopping yawn I’ve been stifling the whole time I was writing this post.

Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.