Bird Brains - Much smarter than primates?

Rainbow lorikeet and australain pied-butcherbirdLorikeets, crows, the Australian songbirds like the magpies and butcherbirds, parrots and many other birds are very intelligent. Scientists have found that birds have twice as many neurons as chimpanzees in every gram of brain.

This explains the remarkable abilities observed in African Greys by Dr Irene Pepperberg (Alex and Me) and in Crows and Ravens by Dr John Marzluff. Scientists have continued the research that they began over 30 years ago. They have incredible memories, can count and nderstand grammar and some abstract concepts.

In an interview with ABC Radio Dr Karl Kruszeinicki explains that some birds like canaries change their song every breeding season and can grow 20,000+ new brain cells every day.  You can listen to the full interview here.

Australian bushman and author Brian Taylor has observed Australian galahs (rose breasted cockatoos) that are generally considered to be not very bright cleaning the husks off the seed tray with a small leafy branch which it broke off the tree and used as a broom. Cockatoos and crows  are known to work out the mechanics of fairly complex series of arrangements in a matter of minutes without experimenting. We have observed this in noisy miners, butcherbirds and Australian magpies.

You can read more about the studies by scientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel in the Scientific American.





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