➤ The Genius of Birds Ebook ➪ Author Jennifer Ackerman – Writerscompany.co.uk
The insult bird brain has always bothered me how exactly is this insulting I suppose if the only birds you are familiar with are domestic chickens and turkeys, you might think it s appropriate, but if you ve ever studied wild birds, you ll know that it s completely off the mark Detailed observation of the domestic fowl might change your mind, too.Think of the hummingbird with a brain smaller than a pea, it manages to migrate long distances and maintain detailed mental maps of nectar sources in its territory, knowing when each flower will be refilled with sweet goodness and ready to be drained again Or think about the Gray Jay, with its multitudinous stored foodstuffs, to be recovered before they have spoiled Even the lowly pigeon can do amazing things witness the homing pigeons, used successfully by people to communicate over great distances.This book, while enjoyable, it not a scientific tome Much of it consists of anecdotal evidence, which seems self evident, but hasn t necessarily been peer reviewed If you are searching for a definite science textbook on bird intelligence, this book may leave you frustrated, but if you are a bird enthusiast you will enjoy gaining a new appreciation for our feathered neighbours. Rating 4.5 of five, rounded down for jargoneeringI voted for this book in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards It deserves ever one of its stars I was fascinated by the breadth of the study s scope I was impressed by Ackerman s lucidity of prose, despite the inevitable, I suppose use of a lot of scientific jargon.I ve been a bird fancier since the first time I saw a Balti oriole s nest in 1967 In fact, after the birds had raised their chicks and migrated north again, I scaled for the one and only time in my life so scared of heights I had to be rescued by my aunt s gardener the pecan tree where I d watched them live their South Texas breeding lives and got me that empty nest It was a staple of my home decor until a careless mover crushed it in 1999 I was so angry I had to leave the house for an hour or I d ve crushed him.Crows fascinate me to this day In Austin in the 1970s, the street I lived on had gob oodles of trees Crows liked to perch in them because there was an extensive open space very near us Great place to grub around in the literal sense of the verb and thus I could, over time, learn that there were certain trees where certain crows could normally be found I also discovered that crows like multi grain bread, which I do not, so they appreciated my gifts of whole crumbled loaves of the stuff that my mother couldn t afford to replace with anything except my preferred rye or pumpernickel bread Thanks, guys This book resonated with me for those reasons, and also taught me a goodly amount of new information I am completely unsurprised by the expanded knowledge scientists are accumulating about birds They ve been evolving for over 300MM years Dinosaurs weren t stupid to begin with add the last 65MM years for the birds to accumulate new knowledge and it shouldn t surprise us they re smart, it should surprise us if we find that they re dimwitted instinct driven dum dums.Very highly recommended if you re already interested in birds still recommended if you re only mildly curious about the avian family that we continue to decimate with our carelessness about the planet we live on Pretty soon, ladies and gentlemen, THE BIRDS will be a prediction not a cautionary tale. Birds Are Astonishingly Intelligent Creatures According To Revolutionary New Research, Some Birds Rival Primates And Even Humans In Their Remarkable Forms Of Intelligence In The Genius Of Birds, Acclaimed Author Jennifer Ackerman Explores Their Newly Discovered Brilliance And How It Came About As She Travels Around The World To The Most Cutting Edge Frontiers Of Research, Ackerman Not Only Tells The Story Of The Recently Uncovered Genius Of Birds But Also Delves Deeply Into The Latest Findings About The Bird Brain Itself That Are Shifting Our View Of What It Means To Be Intelligent At Once Personal Yet Scientific, Richly Informative And Beautifully Written, The Genius Of Birds Celebrates The Triumphs Of These Surprising And Fiercely Intelligent Creatures. This is a marvelous book about the intelligence of birds In this book, Jennifer Ackerman describes a wide range of bird species, brain sizes and capabilities Bird brains, in size relative to body weight, are similar to those of mammals Of course, in absolute terms they are small, as their total weight must be minimal in order to fly I learned so much from this book I had no idea about some of the capabilities of our feathered friends.The smartest birds appear to be crows, ravens, and parrots The most clever bird seems to be the New Caledonian crow Take a look at this video which shows a crow that has learned an 8 step method to get to some food Only four animals make complex tools humans, chimps, orangutans, and New Caledonian crows And, the crows make hook tools the only other species than humans New Caledonian crows demonstrate cumulative technological change Their tools are too complex to be invented by a single bird New Caledonian crows have an extended juvenile period of learning tool making from parents Also, the lack of predators on New Caledonia allow crows time and ease of mind to tinker with sticks and barbed leaves Keas small parrots like play most of all they love to horseplay And they are practical jokesters They have stolen TV antennae from houses, deflated automobile tires, and stolen money from cars And, it seems like some birds actually enjoy playing, just for the fun of it Take a look at this video, showing a crow enjoying sledding down a snow covered roof on a jar lid, again and again Bird brains have evolved separately from mammals, so their brain architecture is quite different from that of humans Nevertheless, their neural connection patterns are quite similar to those of humans Sleep patterns and functions are similar between birds and mammals these patterns seem to have evolved separately, in parallel.Birds have a trade off at birth, between immediate functionality flying almost as soon as they are hatched and greater brainpower, later The question this book raises is not whether birds are smart some are definitely smart but rather, why are they smart The best answer seems to be that birds are smart so that they can solve problems in their environment how to get food from hard to get places In Japan, crows drop nuts onto a roadway, and position the nuts so that passing cars break the nuts which they then recover Crows and ravens have been observed to dig up rocks and drop them on invading researchers.Scrub jays play a shell game with food that they store in caches They bury, then later move or pretend to move food from one cache to another They try to trick and confuse other scrub jays They do this only in front of rival birds not their mates But they play this shell game only if they themselves have pilfered food from others in the past.There is a fascinating description of how birds learn to sing, with parallels with humans learning to speak It is a mystery, how birds and humans independently evolved similar approaches for vocal learning One theory is that birds and humans evolved neural circuits that control body movements into vocal capabilities.The book describes the art projects that male bower birds develop in order to attract mates And this is followed by Darwin sreallydangerous idea colorful feathers or beautiful bowers might not just be indicators of a male s fitness, vigor and health they can be desirable qualities, beatiful traits in the mind of the female The female s preference has acted to evolve these traits in the male Birds have been trained to distinguish between paintings by Picasso and Monet they could distinguish impressionists from cubists They could also learn to discriminate between good and bad paintings, as defined by human critics.There are lots areas where birds excel, even in comparison with humans I won t cover them all here I simply recommend to everyone who enjoys watching birds to read this book It is beautifully written, comprehensive in scope, and the writing style is very engaging.Oh, and one thing last night I dreamt that I was a bird I flew up into the upper region of a big tree, worrying whether the thin, upper branches could support my weight I figured out how to perch on a branch a feat that seemed difficult at first , and then I talked with some of the other birds in the tree. Full of fascinating details of the incredible mental processes of various kinds of birds Just a delight The reason for four stars instead of five is the running commentary that assumes evolution in the background, which had the disconcerting effect of making the reader think that Ackerman was telling us a bunch of true and stupefying things, but was not paying any attention to just how amazing they were.Darwinism is not just a house of cards it is an inverted house of cards, with the apex of the entire card pyramid being one upright joker, holding up the whole thing, and then, five stories up, the storytellers started adding bricks, cinder blocks, and anvils Every couple pages, Ackerman heaves another brick at the top, as though there were nothing unusual going on at all. Why did I read a book like Genius of Birds I walk a few times a week for exercise, but because it was boring to do so on a treadmill, I chose to walk outside At first, I had earbuds for listening to music and audiobooks jammed into my ears most of the time because I assumed it would be a little dull walking outside too But eventually I realized I was hearing birdsong all over the place I wondered what kind of birds were making those sounds I identified maybe day, I saw a hawk sitting on top of a tall evergreen tree the hawk caused a birdsong pandemonium, much like this video the following sound was one I heard all of the time despite that I am a mile away from Elliot Bay were these little noisy fellows some not so little Why so noisy I live in a medium sized city with chunks of tamed parkland and an occasional polluted stream around me How do birds survive in my urban environment What and who are these birds of all colors and sizes Crows in particular surround my area, in fact every area I have ever lived on the west coast Are they the bosses, top of the bird food chain How do birds sing anyway What are they thinking Do they think No book about birds can answer every question about birds An encyclopedia set couldn t include everything we have seen through millennia about birds What The Genius of Birds explores is primarily what has been discovered about how some birds think and communicate their thoughts, if they have thoughts If birds have thoughts, what do they think about, and how does it specifically relate to their lives Jennifer Ackerman discusses some of the testing scientists have devised for observing birds thinking behavior The chapters are From Dodo to CrowThe Bird WayBoffinsTwitterFour Hundred TonguesThe Bird ArtistA Mapping MindSparrowville One bird, the New Caledonian crow, is tested frequently because it may be the smartest bird in the world The book describes the tests the crow passes with ease It can solve three step puzzles using tools have only recently seen with what organ birds use to sing and communicate The author, Jennifer Ackerman, describes bird vocal chords, recently seen by an MRI She also discusses various theories of if and why a species of bird devises different tunes and even accents are songs passed down from parent to child Or does the knowledge of tunes come along with the baby birds at birth Is the how of birds that sing and talk related to human brain mechanisms Are birds actually saying anything intellectually meaningful Scientists can only make guesses about observed bird sounds and behavior For instance, why do birds imitate the sounds of other birds, chainsaws, human babies crying and doors opening Do they sing just to hear themselves, or only to attract mates, or do they also sound off to warn and teach young uns Do other species of birds or animals listen for a different bird species warnings, or recognize songs as warnings lovely bird tunes to The Genius of Birds , scientists and amateur birdwatchers have made some fascinating discoveries about bird cognition, culture omg, birds appear to have culture, and it varies around the world even within the same species , aesthetics, building skills, mapping talents, and adaptation skills, particular in adapting to us humans What brain neurons are at work Are their neurons the same as humans Do their neurons function like our neurons when doing the same task Do birds intentionally trick other species of birds and animals and if so, what kind of mental cognition is involved Can birds connive and scheme Do birds play around just for fun She describes the suspected brain talents of various bird species Her writing is cogent, and she has chosen interesting things to describe to us readers.Most of what Ackerman discusses is what scientists professional and amateur have seen in studies and tests showing what possible cognitive activity is occurring behind the actions different species of birds do under certain circumstances She describes what bird owners have told about what their pet birds have done some stories are very funny This book is interesting, but while fairly comprehensive in some bird brain studies, it left me wanting But clearly birds have a working intelligence behind their beautiful eyes Thankfully, Ackerman has included sections for Acknowledgements, Notes and Index.It is an interesting book I am not the only one who has wondered what birds do with their lives People see remarkable bird behavior all of the time once they begin to look If you want , gentle reader, Youtube.com is a treasure trove of bird videos and songs.Speaking of bird behavior and culture Dancing birds bird pretty bird to those who want to own birds who can imitate human language if you do not want guests to hear the things you and your family say, do not say things within the hearing distance of your pet bird Talking birds can speak VERY clearly, even if it might be only a mindless imitation And I do think some birds are NOT simply imitating youthey are TALKING They have feelings Some like to cuddle and play and do mischievous tricks They get mad They pick up on cues from living with people Imitating electronics, plus R2D2 gets raped by a budgie bird speech might actually mean they have done something and they know how to get to you if they say, hear me now, b cth They hear and memorize speech from Tv and video games, too, besides from you.Warning fowl language, as well as foulhttps youtu.be b22nUygu7h0This video, well, idk, it s just kinda soothing.https youtu.be cnxwsC1RYFYAlfred Hitchcock was on to something about birds, gentle reader, when he made that movie The Birds This book will give some weight to the idea of no longer using the term bird brain to disparage anyone Wow, birds are cool. I found The Genius of Birds to be both enjoyable and illuminating, especially with regard to the similarities between avian and human behavior, morphology, and evolution Jennifer Ackerman conveys complex scientific information in a completely approachable way, which I really appreciated, since I am an absolute novice when it comes to birds I can recognize a robin or chickadee by sight, and I keep a bird feeder in my backyard, but I certainly can t distinguish birds by sound or nest structure Still, I m fascinated by these feathered creatures, and reading The Genius of Birds fed the part of my brain that wants to know about backyard wildlife, as well as many species of birds from around the world.Ackerman doesn t provide the entire evolutionary history of birds, but she does touch on the important moments as they relate to various chapters, which focus on areas of interest such as bird brains, social interactions both in the wild and in urban environments , levels of intelligence or communication, and their astonishing ability to navigate incredible distances It s truly amazing to me that we understand so little about these creatures, even though they literally live on every habitable surface of this planet Even the research which has been done to date has a tendency to raise questions than answers, since as Ackerman points out we humans have difficulties separating our own reasons for certain behavior from why a bird or dog or virus might act The risk of anthropomorphic explanations is great, and frequently unavoidable Still, conscientious researchers do excellent work, and deserve attention for their findings.I really enjoyed learning about bird behavior across species, particularly the tool making and use by various corvids, and the surprising depth of communication skills used by parrots After finding out that generations of crows in New Caledonia have certain family specific ways of grooming leaves into their own versions of Swiss Army knives, I guarantee that I ll never look at a crow the same way again There s still so much that we don t know about why and how birds learn to mimic human speech, or why they seize onto particular phrases or sounds, but what little we do know is fascinating to me.I do have a few questions after reading this book, which I expected Ackerman describes a research project in which a student was asked to repeat a spoken phrase one hundred times no matter how hard the student tried, he couldn t perfectly repeat himself, and included all manner of variations The bird in the same study, however, had no such trouble, and could repeat a sung phrase impeccably I wonder, did the research team consider asking a trained singer to sing a musical phrase or lyric one hundred times Birds must practice their songs and calls innumerable times in order to repeat them flawlessly, as must human singers I would be very interested to see the similarities and differences in the data from that particular study.Additionally, Ackerman makes the point that birds who face challenges while foraging and collecting food tend to be intelligent, due to the greater stress placed upon their drive to survive What she doesn t touch upon, however, is whether bird feeders of the sort used by backyard birders such as myself contribute in some way to a taming, and therefore dumbing down, of urban bird populations Considering all of the other ways in which humans are a detriment to global bird populations, including but not limited to urbanizing rural bird habitats, hunting to eradication, destroying habitats and food sources, and pollution, I know my concern about one or two bird feeders somehow contributing to the decline in species diversity might seem silly But it s undeniable that humans have had an incredible, indelible impact on the world around us, to the point that we have the dubious honor of creating the sixth mass extinction named the Anthropocene, in case its cause isn t quite obvious I d hate to think that what I had thought was a beneficial action is actually detrimental.All in all, I learned so much about both birds and humans from this book, and I m absolutely going to seek out of Jennifer Ackerman s work in the future Highly recommended for backyard birders, amateur bird watchers, and nature enthusiasts I received a free advance copy of this title from the publisher, which did not affect my review in any way. I was hoping to have fun with this read It is a scientific and close up and personal look at the varying species of our avian neighbors and how they compare to other members of the animal kingdom, including humans.This extensively researched book is for the serious birder and contains many results of experiments on varying species of birds the world over.A 5 read for the serious birder and 4 s for the casual enthusiast like myself.I ll just be happy watching the birds in my backyard Everything from hawks to hummers. Up until four years ago I have had birds for most of my life Parakeets, delightful finches, a crockety Cockatiel and some very clever love birds Then my asthma became debilitating and I found birds have allergies than dogs and cats Who knew So, I had to give away my two lovebirds I knew how clever birds could be and even how cunning, but those in this book will surprise.Ravens that use tools Can figure out eight step puzzles and other games I loved the shrub Jay s who hide their nuts for the winter, but are also thieves that steal nuts from others They have also figured out a way to psyche out other would be thieves Chickadees that have a early warning system based on perceived threat levels They show empathy when confronted with a dead bird Some hnow compassion to their partners So much info is included, and explained so well Many I hadn t heard of an spent time looking them up on wiki, but I enjoyed this book immensely Read it with a sense of wonder that all the bird slights, name calling such as bird brain, or lame duck, may actually be compliments. 3.75 s What a birdbrain Awk After reading this book I cry Fowl I wont use that term or think of the birds visiting my feeders in the same way again, especially the jays and pigeons.Bird fanciers should enjoy this but you needn t be an enthusiast to appreciate much of the content within My favorite chapters were on navigation and caching skills.Some things to crow about Size does matter to the ladies Give a hen a giant egg to sit on even artificial and she prefers it to smaller ones Crows leave thank you gifts in feeders when they are treated regularly Check out some treasures from Gabi Mann s collection Golden Winged Warblers anticipate deadly impending storms Bee hummingbirds weigh less than an old penny Birds don t need to count calories In an average thirty year lifetime a tern may fly the equivalent of three trips to the moon and back Pigeons, our first air mail providers and GPS navigators, are bookish than we might imagine, differentiating between the paintings of VanGogh, Monet, Picasso, and Chagall Can I do that Their average flying speed is an impressive fifty miles per hour The Chinese military has built a force of ten thousand trained messenger pigeons in order to communicate with troops along borders in case of electromagnetic interference or a collapse in their signals Shorter than I thought at 267 pages because the rest of the count goes towards acknowledgements, notes, and index This one just might win the award for most footnotes ever Being an avid watcher of Nova and Nature much of the content was already familiar to me.Overall it s interesting reading but it won t keep you up like a night.