Top positive review
The Genius of Birds: Intricately Intertwined Observations and Findings by a Dedicated Author
Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 2016
The Genius of Birds, by Jennifer Ackerman is a gamechanger for the way in which the curious reader will think concerning birds. Perhaps you thought birds were cute but not very bright, for example. Get ready to change your mind when you read in chapter one about "007", a corbid (kind of crow from New Caledonia), who goes through 8 steps, using tools, within two and a half minutes to get to a piece of food, after one scrutiny of this puzzle. Many types of birds are very smart, in the manner which humans are smart. Interestingly, the birds which take the longest to raise in the nest are the smartest and have the biggest brains (with the appropriate neurons). This section discusses the brilliance of some kinds of birds.Here you will find the tool users and others, such as the kees, who love clowning around and horseplay. As an illustration of this, the author mentions a kee who was seen rolling up a doormat and pushing it down a flight of steps.
The writing by the author Jennifer Ackerman is at times beautiful ( as when she is describing the rainforest at nightfall),or laugh-out-loud funny (she discusses attempts by a bird biologist to measure intelligence in his test subjects by disguising himself, wearing at different sessions: a kimono, a wig,sunglasses, or walking with a limp, or hopping. They always recognized him). I was totally rolling when I read this, thinking of Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movies. She is always fresh too, with new news on birds right up to this year. As things have changed dramatically in what we know about birds within the past ten years, this book is welcome as an overview, now. This is a book for bird lovers of all sorts.
There is a section about the social aspect of birds, subtitled "twitter". This is fascinating too. The reader will learn about how different types of birds bond, and how they teach their young to perform certain important actions they will eventually need to survive. Also discussed is how some types of birds teach others in their particular "group" techniques they have been trained. , Incredibly, researchers have taught certain birds to open feeders in a special manner. They then were able to watch and track as their trained birds performed the tasks in the woods. The birds they had trained managed to train additional wild members to do exactly as they did, What collaborative little creatures!
Further on, you learn about vocal virtuosity. I particularly love bird song, as I find it incredibly uplifting. I didn't know that birds must be tutored to sing however. I understand this now, from this book.In this chapter you learn that among Thomas Jefferson's favorite pets were his mockingbirds. Later,when you read about Honey Child, a hand raised mockingbird, your jaw will drop with amazement at the repertoire of his songs, which he would add to and occasionally drop throughout the length of his life. Woodpeckers, wrens, jays, you name it, Honey Child is worth the read! You will learn that this intricate process of vocal learning is termed "advanced", because, it's done "our way", eg., the way humans teach their children, and the way children learn to selectively speak.The male songbirds who have better songs appeal to the females more, too.As the author writes, "Listening for super-sexy syllables allows female canaries to rule out males with poor bilateral co-ordination" This is important, if you are a lady canary!
Read on, through this award-winning author's book, to learn about birds who decorate: "the bird artist", birds who can map: "a mapping mind" and finally, sparrows: "sparrowville".
This is a book to curl up with in the winter, or to take along on your cruise. It doesn't really have photos, just a few sketches of birds opening each chapter, but that is not the point of this book. The Genius of Birds is about behaviors, patterns, reversal learning, which bird is the "world's dumbest"--yes, it has an offering for that, but not the author's (and I cracked up at that part!!!), the importance of studying birds in their natural environment to learn more and better understand them, and plenty more. The Genius of Birds is a big read, but nothing in it is wasted on the willing reader. I applaud Ackerman for taking me outside and to all sorts of amazing places, when she wrote this uplifting, extraordinary book about beautiful, beautiful birds.