Expressions of Creative Animal Intelligence



Though a lot of information has been gleaned about the breeding habits, song and other behaviour of birds, there is still a significant degree of misunderstanding when it comes to the intelligence and communication in birds. Amazing powers of recall, extremely sharp observation, ability to perform clever tricks and play complex games, and ability to learn from example are some of the few astonishing qualities that birds have.

Aesthetic Sense in Pigeons
Can you tell the difference between a Picasso and a Monet? Except for the very aesthetically inclined, most of us would not be able to tell theParrot Image difference between one from the other. Yet, if you showed your pet pigeon some fine works of art, a couple of times, you may be surprised to know that your pet's aesthetic sense may be slightly superior to yours. Chances are that, before you blink your eyelids, your pet pigeon may already have been able to tell the difference between one and another.

In a recent experiment at Cardiff University in Britain, researchers were astonished to see that pigeons with minimal exposure to design, color and art forms could tell very subtle differences in painting styles and designs that even experienced and trained art students found difficult to tell. The pigeons were even able to recognize subtle differences in abstract designs that smart and talented art students were unable to detect.

Parrot Sense!
Your troublesome, screechy, pesky parrot probably delights in all the attention, exasperation and screaming that you resort to when your parrot tests your nerves. It's not just the toys, the swings, ladders, little perches, wooden toys, chewies and other stuff that you have brought that your parrot looks forward to as treats and games. Games are concepts in one's head.
For parrots, getting you to lose your temper may be an endlessly mirthful and delightful game. So, watch out the next time your bird does his or her exasperating little act of screeching around, biting people's toes, saying boo to the kids, and flapping and frightening strangers. Just learn to be calm and restrained. It's not the conventional things that serve as games for bored parrots.
Remember, in parrot speak, listening to a human shouting is outrageously funny.  It's a very rewarding attention grabbing trick. Therefore, you need to be alert and observant about your pet birds' antics. Parrots love drama and loud noises.  They may have a lot more aces and trump cards hidden beneath their feathers.
For one thing, don't run when the telephone or doorbell rings or when the washing machine or microwave gives out a beep. Your feathered friend will be watching you. Before you know it, you may find yourself rushing to answer phony telephone calls or door bell chimes. That's what your pet parrot would call a great game. Every small alarming sound is an entertaining little game for your parrot. Whoopee! They may just love to see you run around, especially if you are in hurry to rush to work, to meet a deadline or an appointment.

Crows that use Cars to Crack Walnuts
In an ingenious discovery, crows in Japan have found a new use for cars. The intelligent birds have been able to correlate the changing of the traffic signal lights with the movement of cars. When the lights turn red, the crows which hover around near traffic crossings hop down and drop the walnuts in front of the cars. They fly away to watch the traffic lights turn green and the cars cracking open the walnuts. When there is a slight lull in traffic activity, they swoop down to eat the nuts. And, what if a car misses some nuts, the crows just pick them up and strategically position them once again in front of the cars and waits and watches.

Astonishing Recall!
One bird with a terrific memory is the Clarke' s nutcracker. This bird collects up to as many as 30,000 pine seeds over a three week period in November. The seeds are then buried over an area of nearly 200 square miles. This bird then proceeds to perform an amazing feat of memory that perhaps very few humans in this world may excel without written records. The birds succeed in retrieving as much as 90% of the nuts, scattered in different hideouts. The nuts are retrieved even when buried under snow.
Tool Using Crows
Out in New Caledonia, an island in the Pacific, crows show terrific tool making and using skills. They have evolved a high degree of sophistication and skill that according to some ethnologists is of a level comparable to that of Paleolithic human. Caledonian crows have been observed by researchers to be using two different forms of hooked tools to pull grubs from deep within tree trunks.  Beaks can serve as scissors, pliers and can even serve as a pair of gardening prunes. The birds fashion out strong barbed, serrated rakes, combs and even hooks from twigs and stiff, leathery leaves.
Just imagine, the birds do not even throw away the tools after use. They keep their tools and then carry them from one place to another during their foraging trips. Another bird, the Woodpecker Finch of the Galapagos also uses tools to pry insects out of bark. There have been reports of how a Cactus Finch watched a caged Woodpecker Finch in action and learned the "tools of the trade".
Parrots are not Smart Record Players!
When your parrot talks to you, is your bird simply mimicking your voice Parrot Imageor is that an attempt at intelligent communication? There are observations and anecdotes about what parrots have spoken. However, their actions and their behaviours force one to recognize a far greater intelligent understanding to the meaning of words and their use in communication.
Remember, your little Feathered Friend is always watching.


STARescue, Inc.

Copyright 2004 [Southeast Texas Avian Rescue, Inc.]. All rights reserved. Revised: 12/10/11