The Genius of Birds

The Genius of Birds

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"For decades, people have written off birds as largely witless, driven by instinct and capable of only the simplest mental processes. But this just isn't true. In fact, according to revolutionary new research, some birds rival primates and even humans in their remarkable forms of intelligence and social smarts. They make complex navigational decisions, sing in regional accents, and use tools. They deceive and manipulate. They eavesdrop. They kiss to console one another. They share. They give gifts. They teach. They blackmail their parents. They summon witnesses to the death of a peer. They may even grieve . . . And they do it all with brains so tiny each would fit inside a walnut. In The Genius of Birds , acclaimed author Jennifer Ackerman explores the newly discovered brilliance of birds. As she travels around the world, bringing together the latest science from lab and field, she reveals the intelligent bird behaviour that we can see in our own backyards, at birdfeeders, in parks, in city streets, and in country skies, if only we care to look. And in doing so, she reveals what a bird's intelligence may have to say about our own. Elegantly blending science and travelogue, Ackerman's extraordinary story provides a new appreciation for the talents of birds and what birds can reveal about our changing world. Incredibly informative and beautifully written, The Genius of Birds richly celebrates the triumphs of these surprising creatures."
Publisher: Brunswick, Victoria :, Scribe Publications,, 2016
Copyright Date: ♭2016
ISBN: 9781925106879
Branch Call Number: 598 Ack 3565
Characteristics: x, 340 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Burgoyne, John (Illustrator),


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jan 08, 2018

I LOVE this book! Great read on birds! Highly recommend.

Dec 29, 2017

A interesting ornithological tour around the globe. From racing pigeons in England to artistically inclined bowerbirds in Australia, the author does a fine job of mixing personal observation and passion with scientific exploration and discovery. Even the most basic bird-based topic (sparrows live everywhere) makes for an interesting study in avian cognition.

And that's the big takeaway here. Birds have advanced neurological processors vis a vis the rest of the animal kingdom. This book attempts to identify, describe and explain how and why some of these interesting behaviors arose, and whether or not they are instinct or intellect. Or some combination of the two. Enjoy learning more about your feathered friends, but stop there; this book doesn't have any major takeaways or applications for your own day to day life. The birds, really, don't provide us any useful insights into our own behavior.

If you're a bird lover, this is a must read. If you've caught yourself interested or entertained by the activity at a backyard feeder, this is a good weekend page turner. If you think birds are weird, well, this book might just provide all the evidence you need.

fineplan Nov 29, 2017

Utterly fascinating and it's got me seeking out more books on animal intelligence.

Jun 26, 2017

Not a complete description of the intelligence of birds, but a well written description of some aspects. Includes tool use; voice, including dialects; reproductive behavior; the adaptive power of certain species; bird brains; migration; the effects of global warming. Clearly Ackerman loves birds, though her approach is more journalistic than scientific--i.e. she doesn't do the science herself. I loved her punning approach to language about birds. I'd have liked maps and photos, too.

Jun 23, 2017

5 stars! excellent book - bird culture in the wild!

Apr 26, 2017

The writing is okay, if dull and plodding. The author has a strong bias, not always backed up by evidence. She made a huge blunder with her explanation of odds (The Price is Right). And few drawings, never labelled, no maps, diagrams or photos.

ontherideau Feb 12, 2017

An intelligent book of importance. Humans have such a need to know how other beings function. Sometimes it's enough to watch and say "that's wonderful".

Feb 09, 2017

If you've ever wondered how smart birds are and how they use their intelligence, this is the book to read. It's a fascinating look at bird intelligence, how they demonstrate it, how we measure and study it, why some birds are smarter than others, and the mysteries that still remain about bird intelligence and how they map their environment. It's geared towards interested laypeople (and birders!) and does a good job of explaining complex scientific concepts without dumbing it down or getting bogged by jargon.

Nov 21, 2016

Little could be added to the "Opinions" above. This is a book that will surely appeal to those dedicated bird enthusiasts as well as those seeking the fundamentals of their future survival. Not always an 'easy' read with the in depth exploration of subject and continual reference to source. Yet, the references substantiate these studies, and is indication of the world wide expression and pursuit of this knowledge. What I observe is that Russians, Chinese, African, et al have a dedication to the 'feathered friend' community, sans politics. Many theories, and disagreements, yet the value of the discussion speaks to the search. This book encompasses climate change, adaptability, survival skills and evolution. Rich in subject matter for a worthy read and consideration on many levels.

Aug 22, 2016

I already knew that birds are smart because I have pet birds.. this book has many cool examples of birds doing interesting/smart things and problem solving. But it is also very repetitive.

View All Comments


Add a Summary

Feb 09, 2017

Have you ever wondered how smart birds are and how they use their intelligence? This book looks at bird intelligence, how they demonstrate it, how we measure and study it, why some birds are smarter than others, and the mysteries that still remain about bird intelligence and some extraordinary achievements by these small flying creatures. It's geared towards the interested public (including birders) and explains complex scientific concepts without dumbing it down or getting bogged by jargon.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at WPPL

To Top