Most commonly used to denote someone who is being dumb, the term, “bird brain” is seen as something negative. People condemn the use of it. No one wants to be associated to it at all. It is about time someone takes “bird brain” as a compliment instead.
Did you know? Comparing a macaw and a monkey, the parrot wins hands down by having proportionately more neurons in its forebrain — the part of the brain associated with intelligent behaviour.
Birds, despite having small brains, are able to perform complicated cognitive behaviors.
Alex, the African Grey
Alex was Dr Irene Pepperberg’s research subject in an experiment to better understand nonhuman intelligence, in particular, the cognitive ability of the parrots. Pepperberg employed a training technique for Alex similar to how one who teach a child with learning difficulties. The general idea was to make Alex learn how to describe things, how to make his desires known and even how to ask questions.
Throughout the process, it was made known that he had a vocabulary of more than 100 words – the names of 50 objects and could describe their colours, shapes and the materials they were made of. He could answer questions about the properties of objects presented to him. Alex could also ask for things and would reject an item if it is not what he wanted. He could comprehend and discuss the concepts of “bigger”, “smaller”, “same” and “different”. He even knew when and how to apologise if he realised he had annoyed someone. By the end of his lifetime, Alex had the intelligence of a 5 year old child and was assumed that he had not reached his full potential!
Crows are famously known for its cleverness. Crows can recognise human faces, along with the ability to recognise us as individuals. Researchers have learnt that crows can indeed, hold a grudge if there is any wrongdoing done to them on our part and spread the news quickly to their flock. These crafty birds would conspire with one another to attack that one person.
In the story of “The Crow and the Pitcher”, a thirsty crow was witty to drop stones into narrow jar to raise the low level of water inside so he can take a drink. These birds understand the concept of water displacement and can fashion tools to reach for their food, making hooks out of sticks and twigs.
Watch now: Crow Cracking an Eight-piece Puzzle
Puck, the Budgie
Not forgetting Puck who is the most talkative bird. Do not belittle his size and of his species of being a beginner’s pet for Puck, the Budgerigar, made it to the 1995 Guinness Book of World Records as “the bird with the largest vocabulary in the world.” He knew over more than 1700 words!
What a feat!
So the next time someone calls you a “bird brain”, smile to yourself. It is a praise.