February 1, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

“Bird Brain” No Longer an Insult

“Birds can perform amazing tasks beyond the reach of cats and dogs,” begins an article in the BBC News.  So pay a little respect.  You can still call your boss a bird brain, but had better quickly explain why that is a compliment.  See also the longer article on MSNBC News.
    In a related article, Jessica Ebert wrote in Nature1 that “bird-brain terminology” is undergoing a reformation.  The century-old naming convention of brain parts in birds resulted from a belief that birds were primitive, possessing simple brains capable only of instinct.  The distinction between bird and mammal brain capabilities is artificial, scientists now realize: “Signalling molecules and neurotransmitters operate similarly in the brains of birds and mammals.  And researchers agree that birds can learn: crows can pass on tool-making skills, for example.”  A consortium of neurobiologists has revamped the nomenclature to give bird brains the respect they deserve.


1Jessica Ebert, “Reformation of bird-brain terminology takes off,” Nature 433, 449 (03 February 2005); doi:10.1038/433449b.

Can your pet cat or dog sing?  Fly?  Talk?  Migrate across the world?  Solve a puzzle as fast as a bird?  Don’t let the small size fool you.  Birds are compressed packages of extreme design that are a wonder to behold.  The diversity of skills found among birds is mind-boggling.  A dinosaur couldn’t figure all this out if it wanted to, even if it knew how to select those rare lucky mutations.

(Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)
Categories: Birds

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.