As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

No bird brains - crows as clever as chimpanzees

 By Colin Fernandez
6:12 PM Saturday Mar 5, 2016

Crows and parrots have sophisticated thinking skills on a par with those of apes such as chimpanzees, researchers claim.

The birds' brains are about a tenth the size of the mammals' and their structures are completely different, but scientists believe they developed equal cognitive abilities through facing the same challenges in the wild over 300million years of evolution.

The new assessment of research results gathered in recent decades says bird cognition includes abilities such as delaying gratification - for example in hoarding food - and reasoning.

Corvids - the bird family that includes crows - are also known to use tools and think logically. Previous research, for example, has confirmed that a crow will drop stones into a beaker of water to raise its surface level so it can drink - a form of behaviour central to the Aesop's Fable The Crow and the Pitcher.

'The mental abilities of corvids and parrots are as sophisticated and diverse as those of apes,' the latest study says.

'Among other things, they are capable of thinking logically, of recognising themselves in the mirror and of empathy.'

The study highlights the fact that birds and apes use different brain structures to think.
Mammals' cognitive skills are controlled by a part of the brain called the neocortex, while crows and parrots manage complex mental tasks with a structure called the pallium.

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