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City Birds are Smarter, Healthier Than Country Birds

Mar 22, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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It seems like living in the urban jungle has given birds street smarts, too, according to researchers from the McGill University in Quebec, Canada.

In a first-ever study comparing bird brains in the city to their country counterparts, results showed that city birds have better problem-solving capabilities, such as accessing to food in drawers, and are more daring.

The birds have adapted to their tough urban environment, allowing them to learn new tricks of the trade.

A team of three researchers, namely Jean-Nicholas Audet, Simon Ducatez and Louis Lefebvre, conducted the study with more than 50 Barbados bullfinches from different parts of the Carribean Island.

The Carribean was a prime location since some of its areas have human settlements, while others are mostly untouched.

Audet, a doctoral candidate in Biology told CBC News that he was inspired to do the test after being "hounded by birds at a restaurant terrace in Barbados."

Barbados bullfinches are the only endemic bird species in the island-nation. They are seedeaters and have shown great adaptation with humans.

Besides attitude and skill, urban birds also showed better immunity than rural counterparts, with Audet saying that they seem to "have it all."

Their study is published in the current issue of Behavioral Ecology.

On the other hand, other research show that not only bullfinches have certain smarts. Mental Floss compiled a list of surprisingly smart birds, including Galapagos woodpeckers that arm themselves to get grub and ravens that are excellent meat cutters.

Studies on crows have also been quite extensive. Prior research show that crows can recognize faces, have sharp memory and can pass information to their offspring.

Now, researchers from University of Washington are figuring out if crows also know about death, as per this AP report.

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