Thursday, February 03, 2005

Brainiac Birds and the Bush

"My name is Anne, and I am a birder." There. I've said it. Go ahead and conjure up all those images of middle-aged, thick-around-the-middle swamp trompers with binoculars, birding field guides and funny hats. I dare you. (Well, OK. I DO have one of those ridiculous looking bug net hats, but the rest of my birding couture is strictly high-class REI caliber.) So, imagine my excitement when I spotted an article in the New York Times this week reporting that neuroscience experts from six countries have reached the conclusion that birds do not have the simple brain structure they were once believed to possess. Instead, scientists are reporting that their brains are "as complex, flexible and inventive as any mammalian brain." Crows make complex tools, African gray parrots make up new words and have a sense of humor, and Magpies understand that "when an object disappears behind a curtain, it has not vanished." Tell me, do you think "W" understands that because Osama bin Laden has disappeared, he has not vanished? Or, that because elections took place in Iraq, the US is safer from terrorist attacks? Who would have thought that calling Bush a birdbrain would be paying him a compliment?


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