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The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman

The Genius of Birds (2016)

by Jennifer Ackerman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4201935,950 (4.01)48
  1. 10
    Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith (Bookmarque, arcanacoelestia)
    Bookmarque: Having read these close together, I found them good companions.
    arcanacoelestia: animal intelligence, evolution, cognitive science

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English (18)  Spanish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Birds are interesting creatures. But for many of us they are so far removed from our day to day experience, at least in terms of having any meaningful contact with their lives, that we do know know, or understand, much of what happens to them. And for many of us, there is also the unfortunate prejudice of taking birds for being creatures that lack that feature we so highly value—intelligence.

So this book tries to tackle this two difficulties by providing lots of meaningful facts and also factoids about birds that gives us a glimpse both of their colorful lives as well as their prowess in regards to their smartness. Since their world is so rife in challenges, be it from the many dangers they face as well as from the competition from their peers, birds have developed many tricks that make them unique creatures, endowed with a particular kind of intelligence that, in their own way, deserves our respect.

So, for those of us that know little of birds and would like to know a little bit more; that are culturally prejudiced against their many qualities, thus not giving them the proper respect they deserve; this book is sure worth of your time and attention. ( )
  adsicuidade | Sep 8, 2018 |
Author Jennifer Ackerman takes the multiple intelligences approach to explore just how smart birds really are. She breaks these intelligences down into specific modalities, such as social, spatial, logical/mathematical, and others, along with adaptability, to show how their ‘little brains’ work and to shed some light on how ours do as well. This was more scientific than my usual non-fiction fare so it was slow going in places (actually, in most places) but definitely worth the effort. ( )
  wandaly | Aug 15, 2018 |
If you've ever been called a bird brain, you should be flattered as Ackerman aptly shows in her engaging work about bird intelligence. Recent research has indicated that birds are capable of a wide range of cognitive skills, including some that were once considered exclusive to humans. Ackerman teaches us not only about birds, but how studying them provides insight into how the human brain works. ( )
  mariannedawnl | Jul 31, 2018 |
An entertaining read. I was struck by the varied, amazing stories of activities by birds. However, I think it is a fatal mistake of attributing a human-interpretation to these stories. And it was unfortunate that the reference notes don't justify the observations with actual research: anecdotes are not data and cannot contribute to behavioural statistics. This was strange since the author wrote a well-nuanced section on the dangers of anthropomorphism. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | May 28, 2018 |
What to say? Not the best Strout although it feels ungenerous to say so. Likely this book is the "most" autobiographical, more drawn from direct experience, rather than, as she described in a NYer article I read, having a character coming to life full-blown in her head triggered by the most unlikely phrase or image. By direct experience, I don't mean the details of Lucy's life, but the inner experience of Lucy Barton in her development as an artist. There is the use of the first person, short uncomplicated sentences, repetition, reflection and remorse, and a lot more telling than showing. The narrator has suffered complications from appendicitis and is in bed in hospital for 9 weeks as a result. The time spent there turns out to be the fulcrum on which her life turns inside-out. Her long absence from home changes everything. In the middle of that time out of time her mother flies to NYC from her home in Illinois to be with her daughter. This is unheard of in their family-- as the narrator grew up extremely poor in a troubled setting, for a long time they lived in a great-uncle's garage--family relationships have depended on silence and denial. Lucy, however, is the only one who left, was always different. The word "ruthless" is turned over and examined thoughtfully at one point, as in, do artists have to be ruthless to make it. (The implication is yes, they do.) It's hard to put a finger on what didn't quite work for me although from page to page I was often intrigued and many of the insights were noteworthy enough to mark: One can be ready to give up everything for a person and then "a tiny remark and the soul deflates and says: Oh." That's good. ***1/2 ( )
  sibyx | May 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Ackerman wants us to “appreciate the complex cognitive abilities of birds in their own right and not because they look like some aspect of our own.”

"Often, you feel her wonderment, faintly recognizing another, strange intelligence covertly operating in a world we presume to be ours: the one pecking at our muffin crumbs, the quick specks in the sky."
added by rybie2 | editNew York Times, Jon Mooallem (May 1, 2016)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jennifer Ackermanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burgoyne, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For a long time, the knock on birds was that they're stupid.
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"Birds are astonishingly intelligent creatures. In fact, according to revolutionary new research, some birds rival primates and even humans in their remarkable forms of intelligence. Like humans, many birds have enormous brains relative to their size. Although small, bird brains are packed with neurons that allow them to punch well above their weight. In The Genius of Birds, acclaimed author Jennifer Ackerman explores the newly discovered brilliance of birds and how it came about."--provided by publisher.… (more)

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