For decades, people have written off birds as largely witless, driven by instinct and capable of only the simplest mental processes. But this just isn't true.
In The Genius of Birds, popular science writer Jennifer Ackerman presents the latest research on bird intelligence and reveals that birds are much, much smarter than we ever supposed. Bird brains, it turns out, are mostly made of sophisticated information processing systems that work in much the same way as our own cerebral cortices. Whether it's making complex navigations, singing in regional accents, or joking around with humans, birds are capable of high-level abstract thinking, problem-solving, remembering, learning by example, recognising faces, and even conversing in a meaningful way - all with brains so tiny each would fit inside a walnut.
In this entertaining book, Ackerman explores the view of birds as 'thinkers', capable of being cunning, playful, witty, greedy, cranky, joyful, and competitive. Bringing together the latest science from lab and field, she reveals the intelligent bird behaviour that we can see in our own backyards, at birdfeeders, in parks, in city streets, and in country skies, if only we care to look. And in doing so, she reveals what a bird's intelligence may have to say about our own.
Lyrical and informative, The Genius of Birds is written in the spirit of Peter Matthiessen - and is packed with fascinating science that will appeal to bird lovers, nature enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the brain and animal behaviour.