News from the Natural World: Bird Brain slur causes a huge squawk of discontent in the avian world.
At an extraordinary meeting of the BBC (British Bird Council), chair animal Tarquin Tawny Owl took a stand against the arrogance and demeaning attitude of humans towards birds. He says, “To suggest we have tiny brains when we are clearly superior to humans, is ridiculous. We are descended from the mighty dinosaurs and survived the Mass Extinction event of 66Myrs ago, yet puny sapiens (ha!) humans, feeble primates, have barely existed for 4Myrs.”
Ostriches are taller (2.75m) than men and can weigh up to 245kgs. Eagles can see 8× further and we can detect UV light and possess more colour cones in our retinas. Our hearing is excellent. Owls can hear fieldmice scampering at night, although our sense of smell is limited like humans. Like Prince Andrew, we do not sweat!
Bird Brain Slur Causes Upsquawk
We can defend ourselves with our beaks, talons and spurs. Charles Darwin was fascinated by our beaks, which have evolved into numerous shapes and sizes, depending on our diet. Around this table, Tony Toucan crunches nuts and fruit with his giant bill whilst Avril Avocet, with her upturned beak, and Spencer Spoonbill, with his spatula, searches for food in the shallows.
We are social animals. Even u have noticed that we congregate in vast marine colonies and in tree roosts (rookeries) and you have given our avian gatherings special names, such as murmurations of starlings and murders of crows. We sing and call to each other and engage in elaborate courtship rituals. Parrots and mynas can even speak your languages! We are very cultured.
We are so adaptable that we can live anywhere, from Emperor penguins in Antarctica to the many seabirds that travel to the Arctic. Our waders and divers are at home in the water and eagles and buzzards occupy mountain eyries. Swifts and swallows can stay airborne for months, sleeping in flight. Flamingoes can live in East African toxic saline lakes that other creatures cannot tolerate. We can migrate thousands of miles. Sooty shearwaters travel between Alaska and Chile! We have even penetrated human settlements. Pigeons flourish in cities and seagulls raid seaside resorts and waste tips.