The Genius of Birds

The Genius of Birds

Book - 2016
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Birds are astonishingly intelligent creatures. According to revolutionary new research, some birds rival primates and even humans in their remarkable forms of intelligence.

In The Genius of Birds , acclaimed author Jennifer Ackerman explores the newly discovered brilliance of birds. As she travels around the world to the most cutting-edge frontiers of research--the distant laboratories of Barbados and New Caledonia, the great tit communities of the United Kingdom and the bowerbird habitats of Australia, the ravaged mid-Atlantic coast after Hurricane Sandy and the warming mountains of central Virginia and the western states--Ackerman not only tells the story of the recently uncovered genius of birds but also delves deeply into the latest findings about the bird brain itself that are shifting our view of what it means to be intelligent.

Consider, as Ackerman does, the Clark's nutcracker, a bird that can hide as many as 30,000 seeds over dozens of square miles and remember several months later where it put them, or the mockingbirds and thrashers, species that can store 200 to 2,000 different songs in a brain a thousand times smaller than ours.

But beyond highlighting how birds use their unique genius in technical ways, Ackerman points out the impressive social smarts of birds. They deceive and manipulate. They eavesdrop. They give gifts. They kiss to console one another. They blackmail their parents. They alert one another to danger. They summon witnesses to the death of a peer. They may even grieve.

This elegant scientific investigation and travelogue weaves personal anecdotes with fascinating science. Ackerman delivers an extraordinary story that will both give readers a new appreciation for the exceptional talents of birds and let them discover what birds can reveal about our changing world. Richly informative and beautifully written, The Genius of Birds celebrates the triumphs of these surprising and fiercely intelligent creatures.
Publisher: New York :, Penguin,, 2016
ISBN: 9781594205217
9780399563126
Characteristics: 340 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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d
DorisWaggoner
Jun 26, 2017

Not a complete description of the intelligence of birds, but a well written description of some aspects. Includes tool use; voice, including dialects; reproductive behavior; the adaptive power of certain species; bird brains; migration; the effects of global warming. Clearly Ackerman loves birds, though her approach is more journalistic than scientific--i.e. she doesn't do the science herself. I loved her punning approach to language about birds. I'd have liked maps and photos, too.

3
323231
Jun 23, 2017

5 stars! excellent book - bird culture in the wild!

m
mclarjh
Apr 26, 2017

The writing is okay, if dull and plodding. The author has a strong bias, not always backed up by evidence. She made a huge blunder with her explanation of odds (The Price is Right). And few drawings, never labelled, no maps, diagrams or photos.

ontherideau Feb 12, 2017

An intelligent book of importance. Humans have such a need to know how other beings function. Sometimes it's enough to watch and say "that's wonderful".

a
AGoode
Feb 09, 2017

If you've ever wondered how smart birds are and how they use their intelligence, this is the book to read. It's a fascinating look at bird intelligence, how they demonstrate it, how we measure and study it, why some birds are smarter than others, and the mysteries that still remain about bird intelligence and how they map their environment. It's geared towards interested laypeople (and birders!) and does a good job of explaining complex scientific concepts without dumbing it down or getting bogged by jargon.

i
ididarodkid
Nov 21, 2016

Little could be added to the "Opinions" above. This is a book that will surely appeal to those dedicated bird enthusiasts as well as those seeking the fundamentals of their future survival. Not always an 'easy' read with the in depth exploration of subject and continual reference to source. Yet, the references substantiate these studies, and is indication of the world wide expression and pursuit of this knowledge. What I observe is that Russians, Chinese, African, et al have a dedication to the 'feathered friend' community, sans politics. Many theories, and disagreements, yet the value of the discussion speaks to the search. This book encompasses climate change, adaptability, survival skills and evolution. Rich in subject matter for a worthy read and consideration on many levels.

s
smichal
Aug 22, 2016

I already knew that birds are smart because I have pet birds.. this book has many cool examples of birds doing interesting/smart things and problem solving. But it is also very repetitive.

d
dedmanshootn
Jul 09, 2016

that birds are very smart is not new info to those of us who've long watched them but this book willo be interesting even to the nonbirder as it touches on the question of just what intelligence is period

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a
AGoode
Feb 09, 2017

Have you ever wondered how smart birds are and how they use their intelligence? This book looks at bird intelligence, how they demonstrate it, how we measure and study it, why some birds are smarter than others, and the mysteries that still remain about bird intelligence and some extraordinary achievements by these small flying creatures. It's geared towards the interested public (including birders) and explains complex scientific concepts without dumbing it down or getting bogged by jargon.

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