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Maybe it started with an unfortunate duck feeding incident, a visit to the zoo gone wrong, a pet bird with a bad personality or a poorly timed viewing of The Birds, but bird phobias are very real. On this day of superstitions, neuroses and anxiety, how much do you know about phobias with feathers?
- Fear of Birds (Ornithophobia): The overall fear of birds may be a fear of all birds in all ways, or it may be a fear of certain birds, such as vultures, raptors, pigeons, swans, geese or other species, or even of pet birds.
- Fear of Animals (Zoophobia): Birds are animals, and a general fear of all animals, or just wild animals – agrizoophobia – can be just as debilitating as a bird-specific fear.
- Fear of Chickens (Alektorophobia): A birder with alektorophobia is unlikely to add the red junglefowl, the wild ancestor to all chickens, to their life list.
- Fear of Feathers (Pteronophobia): While most people with pteronophobia are afraid of touching feathers or being tickled with them, this can lead to a fear of birds.
- Fear of Flying (Aviophobia): Fear of flying is most often related to planes or other transportation, but in severe cases it can mean fear of anything that flies, including birds.
- Fear of Colors (Chromatophobia): Because bright colors are often key field marks for bird identification, chromatophobia can inhibit birding.
- Fear of Dawn (Eosophobia): Birders may miss out on the amazing dawn chorus if they are afraid of sunrise or dawn periods.
- Fear of Solitude (Monophobia): Birding is often a solitary hobby, which will be a problem for birders with a fear of being alone.
- Fear of Forests (Hylophobia): Forests are ideal birding habitats, and a birder with hylophobia will miss a lot of amazing sightings if they won’t go into the woods.
- Fear of Lakes (Limnophobia): Waterfowl and shorebirds are typically found at lakes and marshes, habitats that a birder with limnophobia will strive to avoid.
- Fear of the Ocean (Thalassophobia): A birder will not be able to add pelagic birds to their life list if they suffer from a severe fear of the sea.
- Fear of Bats (Chiroptophobia): Birding in the evening, such as owling, may mean encountering bats, which can terrify anyone with chiroptophobia.
- Fear of Books (Bibliophobia): A field guide is an essential tool for any birder, but one with bibliophobia may need to rely on other identification guides until they overcome their fear of books.
While they may be irrational or could even seem silly, phobias are very real and can be debilitating, affecting everyday actions and enjoyment of life. Bird-related phobias can be especially acute, since birds are so easily encountered every day. Fortunately, many phobias can be overcome with careful treatment, once the phobia is properly identified. Even a person who may have been afraid of birds or bird-related objects, habitats and actions can become an avid birder with proper treatment!
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