Who are you calling a bird brain?

We hope it’s us, because we know exactly how smart birds really are!

Up until recently, most people, and particularly people who didn’t interact very much with birds, thought that they were not very smart and lacked even the most fundamental cognitive abilities. Increasing evidence through studies, however, has shown that birds are quite the opposite of that. They demonstrate a very wide range of behaviours and skills. In fact, you would be well warned to not cross one since they also have very good and very long-lasting memories, which, combined with their impressive facial recognition skills, could make for some awkward visits!

Of course, generally speaking, birds are small, but what they lack in size, they make up for by being impressive communicators and problem solvers. This is all due to very high levels of connectivity in their brains, which is considered a good indicator of the ability to learn and reason. Here are just a few examples of impressive behaviours that have been observed within bird populations:     

  • Carrion crows in Japan place nuts in roadways, waiting for cars to crush the shells. The birds then retrieve the nut meats while coordinating around traffic lights to keep safe.
  • In a study, birds would delay gratification by refusing food when they learned that doing so would result in more food in the near future.
  • Birds have been shown to consistently recognize more than 100 different individual chickens as well as recognize different human faces.

Chicken Little has a BIG brain!

Recent studies have also shown that chickens are on par with some primates in their ability to use sophisticated signals to convey their intentions. This is not a surprise to us! At Carroll’s Animal Sanctuary and Rescue we have seen firsthand how intelligent our chickens are. Many of our chickens answer to their own names when called and they know exactly which volunteers to hit up for extra snacks! In fact, they will follow these volunteers around while they work. 

Duck Duck Einstein

OK, maybe not Einstein, but definitely as smart as a goose – widely acknowledged to be one of the smartest birds out there! Ducks are not only very intelligent, they understand commands, can play games and even give kisses, but they are also highly emotional, hugs are always welcome, and very sociable if they are handled gently and often from a young age. And, always the protectors, our male ducks know the difference between strangers and regular volunteers and will protect their flock by hissing when they see new people.

So, the next time someone calls you a bird brain, you can let them know why you appreciate the compliment!