Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Review: The Genius of Birds

As one who loves birds I would never be offended by the term "bird brain," although some people might.  That term came from the belief that birds had brains so tiny that they were capable only of instinctual behavior. Jennifer Ackerman clears that up with her work in, "The Genius of Birds" where we learn birds are quite capable of using problem solving and social skills to navigate a competitive world. How incredible is it that the Clark’s Nutcracker stands out for its amazing spatial memory. This is a bird that stashes tens of thousands of seeds every year in thousands of different spots and remembers exactly where it stashed every one. What I would do for a "bird brain" like this one.

Ackerman, skillfully presents complex scientific research in a way that even non-birders would appreciate. Each chapter discusses a bird skill such as intelligence, navigation and communication. While Ackerman does not delve into bird evolution she weaves important moments into her chapters where applicable. I enjoyed this book immensely and it has pushed me into doing additional field studies on bird behaviors. If you are interested in bird behavior and the similarities to human behavior this is a good read. It would make an excellent stocking stuffer for those friends who might not have this on their bookshelves as yet.

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