Monday, February 14, 2011

BIRD BRAINS? No, COMPACT INTELLIGENCE.

Rosie, my favorite Rosy Bourke Parakeet.
Did you ever stop to think about the amount of information wired into the brain of a tiny bird or any other living thing, for that matter? Our brains and spinal columns are so intricate that there isn’t a computer chip made that can begin to hold all the information required to keep a living creature fully functioning. Life really is miraculous.

So, when did the term “bird brain” take on such a negative meaning? An incident today with one of my tame birds, Rosie, made me acutely aware of how very intelligent she is.

I thoroughly cleaned four Bourke cages today, and one was hers. The cages were moved so that the area under and behind them could be thoroughly cleaned. The windows around those cages now sparkle, and the window blind is clean and shiny too.

Rosie’s cage is the only one that still has a nest box on it. It’s one that was never used, so I didn’t bother to remove and clean it. I simply found a plastic medicine bottle the same size as the hole and stuck it in so the lid closed off the opening. Rosie’s a year old now and has never reproduced. But she wants to…Oh does she want to.

Normally, I can’t see the lid that covers the round opening into the box. Today, while the cage sat on the table, I could look down at it. Rosie noticed and flew to the perch outside the box. Then she looked up at me and started pecking at the lid of the medicine bottle that prevented her from going in. She cheeped until I looked at her, then gave the lid a peck or two, and looked up at me again to see if I got the message.
Bars removed to allow entrance to nest
box on outside of cage. Short dowel perch
below also goes inside for hen to stand on
as her mate feeds her from outside.

It was obvious she was trying to tell me to uncover the opening, even though she’d never seen it uncovered before. Somehow, she knows that’s a box for laying eggs. She’s recognized where the opening is and that it’s covered up. She clearly communicated to me what she wants and obviously expected me to understand her.

Is she a “bird brain?” Well, she has a very small, compact brain, and she’s a bird, but it’s amazing what that little brain of hers knows and can do.

Later, when I reached through the small opening designed for a water cup, Rosie hopped on my arm. I looked in at her and said, “Rosie, I can’t take my arm out while you’re on it and I don’t want to hurt you.” She immediately jumped off. Does she speak English? Perhaps, or maybe she intuitively understood what I was trying to communicate to her without having to understand the words.

Are birds smart or stupid? I vote for very, very smart.


2 comments:

Dustin said...

Very interesting! Thank you so much for all these lovely posts about Bourkes. It is helping me learn, as we consider adding one to our family of pets. As someone who's only owned Reptiles (and dogs, cats) the whole bird side of the world is new to me. Your blog is helping me understand Bourkes so much better!

We are considering adopting a Bourkes that was a rescue bird, he's only one year old and apperently is actually finger tamed. The rescue happened to find him outside, and no one every claimed him. They assume he was released.

G. A. Lewis said...

You're welcome, Dustin. I doubt that anyone would release a Bourke. It probably accidentally flew out the door. If you adopt him/her, you'll not regret it. Make sure you have everything in place that it will need... A clean cage, fresh water daily and adequate seed. They also like greens. Check out the other postings. Blessings!