Brainy Urban Birds

By Susan Aiello • Published: November 1st, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

The term “birdbrain” implies limited intelligence. But our feathered friends are far from dumb.

Some have learned to adapt to life in the big city, with all its dangers and opportunities. Recent European research suggests that city birds tend to have bigger brains, with a greater ability to change behaviors to make the most of urban situations. Chief among these brainy birds are crows, jackdaws, magpies, nuthatches and wrens.

It may even be that people are making birds smarter by creating situations that allow only the brightest and most adaptable to survive.

The common pigeon provides a good example of a bird well-suited to urban life. When people started living in cities, we accidently created the perfect pigeon habitat, free of predators and with ample food and nesting sites. Not to mention all that popcorn on the ground for the taking.

What smart bird wouldn’t stay?