June 10, 2005

Talking--and thinking--in birds

Guest post by Steve Bodio.

I have always been fairly unimpressed with the "linguistic" exploits of our closest genetic relatives, the great apes--the communications chasm seems wider than that between us and our dogs, despite their having been trained to manipulate some symbols.

Which is why recent developments in bird speech and cognition are so mind-boggling, especially as the avian brain is physically extremely different in its structure. There is a lot of info out there, but check out this BBC story for a good example of the most talented talking bird, the African gray parrot.

1 comment:

Chas S. Clifton said...

Parrots seem to be smart birds. Corvids are smart birds too. On the other hand, watching pine siskins nearly falling into the rain water tank while trying to drink from the rim, when two feet away there was a plank ramp leading down to the water, makes me think that they are only slightly smarter than clothespins.

Maybe there is a collective flock intelligence or something.