An award-winning science writer tours the globe to reveal what makes birds capable of such extraordinary feats of mental prowess Birds are astonishingly intelligent creatures. According to revolutionary new research, some birds rival primates and even humans in their remarkable forms of intelligence. In The Genius of Birds, acclaimed author Jennifer Ackerman explores their newly discovered brilliance and how it came about. As she travels around the world to the most cutting-edge frontiers of research, 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 shifting our view of what it means to be intelligent. At once personal yet scientific, richly informative and beautifully written, The Genius of Birds celebrates the triumphs of these surprising and fiercely intelligent creatures.
Author: Jennifer Ackerman
Publisher: Hachette UK
Release Date: 2016-04-21
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.
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 PEN/E.O. WILSON LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING AWARD 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. PRAISE FOR JENNIFER ACKERMAN ‘The Genius of Birds offers an often awe inspiring tour … made the more affecting by the elegance and beauty of [Ackerman's] language … a fascinating book.’ The Sydney Morning Herald ‘Wide-ranging and engrossing … makes it clear that crows — and birds generally — have a lot more going on upstairs than we ever knew.’ The Weekend Australian
Author: Jennifer Ackerman
Release Date: 2010-09-02
Genre: Health & Fitness
Some colds are like mice, timid and annoying; others like dragons, accompanied by body aches and deep misery. In AH-CHOO!, Jennifer Ackerman explains what, exactly, a cold is, how it works, and whether it's really possible to "fight one off." Scientists call this the Golden Age of the Common Cold because Americans suffer up to a billion colds each year, resulting in 40 million days of missed work and school and 100 million doctor visits. They've also learned over the past decade much more about what cold viruses are, what they do to the human body, and how symptoms can be addressed. In this ode to the odious cold, Ackerman sifts through the chatter about treatments-what works, what doesn't, and what can't hurt. She dispels myths, such as susceptibility to colds reflects a weakened immune system. And she tracks current research, including work at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, a world-renowned center of cold research studies, where the search for a cure continues.
Author: Frans de Waal
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date: 2016-04-25
A New York Times Bestseller From world-renowned biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal, a groundbreaking work on animal intelligence destined to become a classic. What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future—all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long. People often assume a cognitive ladder, from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different forms that are often incomparable to ours? Would you presume yourself dumber than a squirrel because you’re less adept at recalling the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or would you judge your perception of your surroundings as more sophisticated than that of a echolocating bat? De Waal reviews the rise and fall of the mechanistic view of animals and opens our minds to the idea that animal minds are far more intricate and complex than we have assumed. De Waal’s landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal—and human—intelligence.
Author: Tim Birkhead
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Release Date: 2012-04-24
What is it like to be a swift, flying at over one hundred kilometres an hour? Or a kiwi, plodding flightlessly among the humid undergrowth in the pitch dark of a New Zealand night? And what is going on inside the head of a nightingale as it sings, and how does its brain improvise? Bird Sense addresses questions like these and many more, by describing the senses of birds that enable them to interpret their environment and to interact with each other. Our affinity for birds is often said to be the result of shared senses--vision and hearing--but how exactly do their senses compare with our own? And what about a bird's sense of taste, or smell, or touch, or the ability to detect the earth's magnetic field? Or the extraordinary ability of desert birds to detect rain hundreds of kilometres away--how do they do it? Bird Sense is based on a conviction that we have consistently underestimated what goes on in a bird's head. Our understanding of bird behaviour is simultaneously informed and constrained by the way we watch and study them. By drawing attention to the way these frameworks both facilitate and inhibit discovery, Birkhead identifies ways we can escape from them to explore new horizons in bird behaviour. There has never been a popular book about the senses of birds. No one has previously looked at how birds interpret the world or the way the behaviour of birds is shaped by all their senses. A lifetime spent studying birds has provided Tim Birkhead with a wealth of observation and a unique understanding of birds and their behaviour that is firmly grounded in science.
Our relationship to birds is different from our relationship to any other wild creatures. They are found virtually everywhere and we love to watch them, listen to them, keep them as pets, wear their feathers, even converse with them. Birds, Jim Robbins posits, are our most vital connection to nature. They compel us to look to the skies, both literally and metaphorically; draw us out into nature to seek their beauty; and let us experience vicariously what it is like to be weightless. Birds have helped us in so many of our human endeavors: learning to fly, providing clothing and food, and helping us better understand the human brain and body. And they even have much to teach us about being human in the natural world. This book illuminates qualities unique to birds that demonstrate just how invaluable they are to humankind--both ecologically and spiritually. The wings of turkey buzzards influenced the Wright brothers' flight design; the chickadee's song is considered by scientists to be the most sophisticated language in the animal world and a "window into the evolution of our own language and our society"; and the quietly powerful presence of eagles in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Anacostia, in Washington, D.C., proved to be an effective method for rehabilitating the troubled young people placed in charge of their care.
Birds have not been known for their high IQs, which is why a person of questionable intelligence is sometimes called a "birdbrain." Yet in the past two decades, the study of avian intelligence has witnessed dramatic advances. From a time when birds were seen as simple instinct machines responding only to stimuli in their external worlds, we now know that some birds have complex internal worlds as well. This beautifully illustrated book provides an engaging exploration of the avian mind, revealing how science is exploding one of the most widespread myths about our feathered friends--and changing the way we think about intelligence in other animals as well. "Bird Brain" looks at the structures and functions of the avian brain, and describes the extraordinary behaviors that different types of avian intelligence give rise to. It offers insights into crows, jays, magpies, and other corvids--the "masterminds" of the avian world--as well as parrots and some less-studied species from around the world. This lively and accessible book shows how birds have sophisticated brains with abilities previously thought to be uniquely human, such as mental time travel, self-recognition, empathy, problem solving, imagination, and insight. Written by a leading expert and featuring a foreword by Frans de Waal, renowned for his work on animal intelligence, "Bird Brain" shines critical new light on the mental lives of birds.
A gorgeously illustrated and enchanting examination of the lives of birds, illuminating their wondrous world and our connection with them. One of our most eloquent nature writers offers a passionate and informative celebration of birds and their ability to help us understand the world we live in. As well as exploring how birds achieve the miracle of flight; why birds sing; what they tell us about the seasons of the year and what their presence tells us about the places they inhabit, The Meaning of Birds muses on the uses of feathers, the drama of raptors, the slaughter of pheasants, the infidelities of geese, and the strangeness of feeling sentimental about blue tits while enjoying a chicken sandwich. From the mocking-birds of the Galapagos who guided Charles Darwin toward his evolutionary theory, to the changing patterns of migration that alert us to the reality of contemporary climate change, Simon Barnes explores both the intrinsic wonder of what it is to be a bird—and the myriad ways in which birds can help us understand the meaning of life.
An entertaining and profound look at the lives of birds, illuminating their surprising world—and deep connection with humanity. Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As we learn more about the secrets of bird life, we are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, relationships, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself. The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatrosses, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature. Drawing deep from personal experience, cutting-edge science, and colorful history, Noah Strycker spins captivating stories about the birds in our midst and shares the startlingly intimate coexistence of birds and humans. With humor, style, and grace, he shows how our view of the world is often, and remarkably, through the experience of birds. You’ve never read a book about birds like this one.
Naturalist Lyanda Lynn Haupt, an ornithology teacher and researcher, examines the amazing talents and personalities of the most common of birds. She muses on the tarnished reputation of the starling, the sexed-up antics of male woodpeckers, and the mysterious behavior and startling population explosion of crows in her hometown. Through the eye and voice of this talented writer, birds provide a fascinating point of contact with the natural world at large.
Author: Jennifer Ackerman
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: 2008
Genre: Health & Fitness
Follows a typical day in the life of the human body, from the early morning wakeup to the nighttime return to sleep, revealing the rhythmic cycles that control the body and demonstrating the importance of synchronizing one's actions to these biological rhythms.
From the black swan to the ruby-throated hummingbird, Nature Guide Birds of the World, profiles the world's most amazing bird species. Part of a new generation of compact natural history guides, Birds of the World is packed full of stunning images that reveal intricate details and unique characteristics of the species featured. Expertly written and including examples from across the globe, these guides will give you knowledge of the natural world at your fingertips. With a detailed introduction all about bird classification, anatomy, migration, habitats and flight, Nature Guide Birds of the World is the ideal bird identification guide.
Author: Matt Merritt
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2016-04-07
'Prose from a poet and a personal take on the spectacles' Chris Packham, author of Fingers in the Sparkle Jar Shortlisted for Richard Jefferies Society & White Horse Bookshop Literary Prize 2017 Longlisted for the Wainwright Prize 2017 Britain is a nation of bird-lovers. However, few of us fully appreciate the sheer scale, variety and drama of our avian life. From city-centre hunters to vast flocks straight out of the Arctic wilderness, much-loved dawn songsters to the exotic invaders of supermarket car parks, a host of remarkable wildlife spectacles are waiting to be discovered right outside our front doors. In A Sky Full of Birds, poet and nature writer Matt Merritt shares his passion for birdwatching by taking us to some of the great avian gatherings that occur around the British isles – from ravens in Anglesey and raptors on the Wirral, to Kent nightingales and Scottish capercaillies. By turns lyrical, informative and entertaining, he shows how natural miracles can be found all around us, if only we know where to look for them. A Sky Full of Birds is the perfect read for avid birdwatchers and a beautiful gift for lovers of nature and poetic prose.
The world is fractured. Tensions are high, patience is low, and goodwill is hard to come by. In The Genius of One, author and pastor Greg Holder reminds us of the high value Jesus and his early followers placed on community and offers guidance for how to see and relate to one another in emotionally and spiritually healthy ways so that we, the church, can fulfill Jesus’ prayer for us and model a better way of loving one another in a fractured world. Tracing back to a prayer Jesus prayed on the worst night of his life, “That they”—that we—“would be one,” Holder takes his readers on a winding journey from that glorious prayer to the practical realities of everyday life. For those who cling to the hope that God is still at work, this book will both stir a deeper longing for a better way and provide practical steps toward that way.