Review of Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence by Nathan Emery
Can a Parrot teach itself to use a tool? Does the Crow in your yard recognize your face when you leave for work? Does a male Bower bird create art to impress the girls? There are approximately 10,000 species of birds on our planet, covering every possible ecosystem and adapting, in their own way, to thrive. These adaptations can be simple, clever, or sometimes downright bizarre, but are they signs of intelligence? Are birds able to using their cleverness to adapt to changing environments or are they simply driven by instincts that slowly change over countless generations. Dr. Nathan Emery explores the nature of avian intelligence and the way we have studied these complex animals in his new book Bird Brain: an Exploration of Avian Intellegence.
Nathan Emery is a world renowned expert on animal intelligence. He is a researcher, and senior lecturer at Queen Mary University in London. His new book is grounded in scientific study and meticulous research, and while some concepts may be difficult to understand for those of us without a strong background in science, the detailed illustrations and simple explanations make it accessible for the casual reader. It is broken into 7 simple chapters dealing with the fascinating behaviours observed in our feathered friends. These chapters explore topics such as Communication (through song, dance, social order and bizarre mating habits), navigation (migrating birds, as well as the way birds store food), and tool use (observed in the wild, or studied in captivity).
Research on bird intelligence has come a long way in the past 20 years, and Nathan Emery’s first-hand experience into the complex and detailed research on birds is a very enjoyable read.
Reviewed by: John Finkbeine
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