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The Genius of Birds

The Genius of Birds

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. As she travels around the world to the most cutting-edge frontiers of research – the distant laboratories of Barbados and New Caledonia, the great tit communities of the United Kingdom and the bowerbird habitats of Australia, the ravaged mid-Atlantic coast after Hurricane Sandy and the warming mountains of central Virginia and the western states – Ackerman not only tells the story of the recently uncovered genius of birds but also delves deeply into the latest findings about the bird brain itself that are revolutionizing our view of what it means to be intelligent.

Consider, as Ackerman does, the Clark’s nutcracker, a bird that can hide as many as 30,000 seeds over dozens of square miles and remember where it put them several months later; the mockingbirds and thrashers, species that can store 200 to 2,000 different songs in a brain a thousand times smaller than ours; the well-known pigeon, which knows where it’s going, even thousands of miles from familiar territory; and the New Caledonian crow, an impressive bird that makes its own tools.

But beyond highlighting how birds use their unique genius in technical ways, Ackerman points out the impressive social smarts of birds. They deceive and manipulate. They eavesdrop. They display a strong sense of fairness. They give gifts. They play keep-away and tug-of-war. They tease. They share. They cultivate social networks. They vie for status. They kiss to console one another. They teach their young. They blackmail their parents. They alert one another to danger. They summon witnesses to the death of a peer. They may even grieve.

This elegant scientific investigation and travelogue weaves personal anecdotes with fascinating science. Ackerman delivers an extraordinary story that will both give readers a new appreciation for the exceptional talents of birds and let them discover what birds can reveal about our changing world.
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Genre: Lifestyle, Sport & Leisure / Natural History / Wildlife: General Interest / Wildlife: Birds & Birdwatching

On Sale: 21st April 2016

Price: £14.99

ISBN-13: 9781472114358

Reviews

Delightful, revolutionary, and illuminated by the clean, curious gaze of an intelligent seeker, The Genius of Birds is fueled by awe and always, its close cousin, deep respect for the condition of life. It's a book that demands a moral consideration of the world.
Rick Bass
A passionate account of the intelligence of birds, ****
Telegraph
Gloriously provocative and fascinating. Genius of Birds is at once a book of knowledge but also a work of wonder and an affirmation of the astonishing complexity of our world
Mark Cocker, author of Birds Britannica
Ackerman has collected a wealth of fascinating anecdotes to bolster her point . . . The book never comes across as excessively academic. The Genius of Birds isn't just for experts and enthusiasts on our feathered friends. There are plenty of surprising and curious facts to keep the casual reader pecking at it.
The Times
Lovely, celebratory. For all the belittling of 'bird brains,' [Ackerman] shows them to be uniquely impressive machines...
New York Times Book Review
This elegant scientific investigation and travelogue weaves personal anecdotes with fascinating science. Ackerman delivers an extraordinary story that will both give readers a new appreciation for the exceptional talents of birds, and let them discover what birds can reveal about our changing world
Herald
Highly entertaining. Jennifer Ackerman provides a masterly survey of research in the last two decades that has produced a revolution in our understanding of bird cognition. The Genius of Birds [is] important not only for what it says about birds, but also about the human ingenuity entailed in unraveling the mysteries of the avian brain. It is at once a book of knowledge but also a work of wonder and an affirmation of the astonishing complexity of our world
Wall Street Journal (Mark Cocker)
Fascinating
Yours magazine
[Ackerman's] command of the latest findings on avian intelligence matches that of any top-notch researcher. This is science writing at its best: a book of knowledge, packed with mind-stretching information, but also steeped in a sense of wonder and written by someone clearly moved by the vast complexities of life.
Mark Cocker in the Spectator, Best Books of 2016
If you're a bird lover, this enchanting book is a must. If you're not, Ackerman's enthusiasm will make you an instant convert.
Daily Mail