Humans are the most intelligence animals on earth, because we can think, and thus the name of homo sapiens. However, we are not the only intelligence animal living on this planet. In fact, there are so many other species of animals which are intelligence enough to give us wonder.
An example of those animals is elephant. This animal was able to amaze even Aristotle, as he stated that elephants are “The beast which passeth all others in wit and mind”. This animal has social structure and responsibilities, amazing memory, and capacity to show emotions beyond other kinds of non-human mammals.
Okay, elephant is a smart mammal, but are the smartest ones always come from mammalian trait? Well, not always, because some birds can also show terrific signs of intelligence. That’s why, in this article we are going to talk about intelligent birds.
But how do you call a bird is intelligent or not? In this article, we are using the bird’s specific ability to work for food.
A history based theme park in France, named Puy du Fou, is the first place we can visit to discover the intelligence of birds. The park’s head falconer, Christophe Gaborit, has successfully trained 6 rooks (Corvus frugilegus) to pick up trashes for food.
Gaborit did it by giving the birds a box that contains a piece of trash in one slot and food reward in the other slot. Each time the birds move the piece of trash into a designated trash bin, the other slot containing food opens up.
It took not so long time for the birds to learn and associate picking up trash with getting food rewards. After passing the training sessions, those six birds earned the job to keep the theme park clean. Anytime a visitor is littering the park, the birds will quickly pick it up and place it into the trash bin.
However, cleaning trashes is just the side job, the main job is becoming a teacher for the visitors. No, the birds don’t teach algebra and philosophy to the visitors, but instead they teach a very simple thing: throw away your trashes into the bins.
Humans are ‘smarter’ creature, and that’s why being taught by birds to do such simple thing must hurt our dignity as the smartest ones. Anyway, the method has proven itself successful to keep the theme park clean.
Parrot’s Smart Choice
Parrots are known as the talking birds, being able to imitate human voices and replicate the voices of other things. But don’t you know that their voices are not the only amazing thing they can show? Well, yes, as we are talking about working birds, some parrots are actually ‘workaholic’.
In a study presented at International Ethological Congress in Portugal, researchers found out that when given two options between getting food for free or having to earn it by working, some species of parrots choose the second option.
In the study, the researchers tried to test the parrots by giving two options: getting food for free or earn a token to be traded with food. There were four species of parrots tested, which are great green macaws, blue-throated macaws, blue-headed macaws, and Grey parrots.
“If the token represented a lesser-quality food than the food choice, the birds chose the food item. If the token represented a higher quality food, the birds chose the token and traded up,” Irene Pepperberg, lecturer and research associate at Harvard University, in Cambridge, stated.
But what if the token and the food represent the same quality of food? As Pepperberg said, “Although the great green macaws seemed to prefer the food, the other three macaw species and grey parrots all chose the token.”
Well, the next species of bird we need to talk about regarding their intelligence are crows and raven. Researchers believe that compared to any other kinds of birds, crows are exceptionally intelligent for being able to execute many complex tasks and make complex decisions.
In an article we have explained how intelligence crows are, and how good their eyes are to judge the value of something. However, beyond the article written, we think that we need to inform you that crows are far more intelligent that what you have read.
No other than that their work ethic is incredible too, as researchers from Austria found out that not only crows and raven understand the concept of exchanging items for food (just like what their cousins, rooks, do as mentioned above), but also are sensitive to others’ efforts and payoffs.
In the study, the researchers found out that the birds might do the work for food in a lazier way if they see other member of the flock receive something better or bigger. It shows their sensitivity, and sensitivity is the sign of exceptional intelligence.
“If a focal bird saw that its neighbor received food without doing the rock exchange, the bird took longer to exchange or simply refused to exchange! And, if the focal bird saw that its neighbor got cheese for its efforts, but itself only received grapes, again it either took longer to exchange or totally refused to work,” John M. Marzluff, professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington stated.
Aside from three birds explained above, there is one kind of bird that makes working a habit. Scrub-Jays are the only animal on earth (beside human) that plan their actions based on their predictions toward the future.
They can plan what kind of food they want for breakfast, how much food they want to eat the next morning, and how to make it happen in the most convenience way. In other word, they are the only animal (again, beside human) that work for and store food for the next day.
The amount of food they store is almost precisely the right amount they need for the breakfast. Compare it to some human that can’t even finish their breakfast and waste food, this species of bird is exceptional in food management.
Anyway, all those things mentioned above can be concluded into one simple sentence: in terms of efforts in getting good quality and quantity food and managing the stock, some birds are cleverer than some human. Isn’t it incredible?