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.
About the Author
Jennifer Ackerman has been writing about science, nature, and human biology for almost three decades. Her most recent book is The Genius of Birds (Penguin Press, April 2016). Previous books include Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body (Houghton Mifflin); Ah-Choo: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold (Twelve); Chance in the House of Fate: A Natural History of Heredity (Houghton Mifflin); and Notes from the Shore (Viking Penguin). A contributor to Scientific American, National Geographic, The New York Times, and many other publications, Jennifer is the recipient of an National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Nonfiction, a Bunting Fellowship, and a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.