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“There is the mammal way and there is the bird way.” But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviors they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries –– What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive. They are also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities we once considered uniquely our own: deception, manipulation, cheating, kidnapping, infanticide, but also ingenious communication between species, cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play.
Some of these extraordinary behaviors are biological conundrums that seem to push the edges of, well, birdness: a mother bird that kills her own infant sons, and another that selflessly tends to the young of other birds as if they were her own; a bird that collaborates in an extraordinary way with one species—ours—but parasitizes another in gruesome fashion; birds that give gifts and birds that steal; birds that dance or drum, that paint their creations or paint themselves; birds that build walls of sound to keep out intruders and birds that summon playmates with a special call—and may hold the secret to our own penchant for playfulness and the evolution of laughter.
Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska’s Kachemak Bay, Jennifer Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary. It is what we love about them. As E.O Wilson once said, when you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.
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 their newly discovered brilliance and how it came about.
As she travels around the world to the most cutting-edge frontiers of research, 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. At once personal yet scientific, richly informative and beautifully written, The Genius of Birds celebrates the triumphs of these surprising and fiercely intelligent creatures.
Ackerman is also the author of Birds by the Shore: Observing the Natural Life of the Atlantic Coast.
For three years, Jennifer Ackerman lived in the small coastal town of Lewes, Delaware, in the sort of blue-water, white-sand landscape that draws summer crowds up and down the eastern seaboard. Birds by the Shore is a book about discovering the natural life at the ocean's edge: the habits of shorebirds and seabirds, the movement of sand and water, the wealth of creatures that survive amid storm and surf. Against this landscape's rhythms, Ackerman revisits her own history--her mother's death, her father's illness and her hopes to have children of her own.
This portrait of life at the ocean's edge will be relished by anyone who has walked a beach at sunset, or watched a hawk hover over a winter marsh, and felt part of the natural world. With a quiet passion and friendly, generous intelligence, it explores the way that landscape shapes our thoughts and perceptions and shows that home ground is often where we feel the deepest response to the planet.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of circadian rhythms, the idea that the human body maintains its own internal clock. Recent scientific advances reveal the importance of synchronizing our actions with our biological rhythms — and show how defying them can cause us real harm. With Ackerman as our guide we learn the best time of day to take a nap, give a presentation, take medication, and even drink a cocktail, along with a host of other useful and curious facts. Entertaining and deeply practical, this book will make readers think of their bodies in an entirely new way.
Los pájaros son unos animales con una inteligencia fascinante. Nuevos y revolucionarios estudios de investigación demuestran que algunas especies despliegan asombrosas formas de inteligencia, comparables a las de los primates e incluso a las de los seres humanos. Mientras viaja alrededor del mundo, Ackerman no sólo narra la historia de la recién descubierta inteligencia de los pájaros, sino que, además, profundiza en los últimos hallazgos acerca del cerebro aviar, hallazgos que están cambiando nuestra concepción de lo que significa ser inteligente. Destaca la impresionante habilidad social de estos animales. Engañan y manipulan, escuchan a hurtadillas, hacen regalos, se besan para consolarse, chantajean a sus parejas, se alertan mutuamente del peligro, convocan a testigos para presenciar la muerte de otra ave e incluso hacen duelo. Esta elegante investigación y cuaderno de bitácora entreteje anécdotas personales con datos científicos sorprendentes.
They've also learned over the past decade much more about what cold viruses are, what they do to the human body, and how symptoms can be addressed. In this ode to the odious cold, Ackerman sifts through the chatter about treatments-what works, what doesn't, and what can't hurt. She dispels myths, such as susceptibility to colds reflects a weakened immune system. And she tracks current research, including work at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, a world-renowned center of cold research studies, where the search for a cure continues.