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Bird Brain:
An Exploration of Avian Intelligence
Nathan Emery
With a foreword by Frans de Waal

Hardcover | 2016 | $29.95 | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691165172
192 pp. | 8 x 10 | 175 color illus.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400882861 |
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Reviews | Table of Contents
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A Q&A with Nathan Emery

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.

Nathan Emery is senior lecturer in cognitive biology at Queen Mary University of London. His research interests focus on what corvids, apes, and parrots understand about their social and physical worlds, especially others' mental states, insight, and imagination, as well as the psychology and evolution of innovation and creativity. He is currently working with the ravens at the Tower of London. He is the coeditor of Social Intelligence: From Brain to Culture and The Cognitive Neuroscience of Social Behaviour, and is on the editorial board of the journals Animal Cognition and Journal of Comparative Psychology. He is the author of more than eighty publications, including papers in Nature, Science, and Current Biology. His work has been extensively covered by international newspapers and magazines, in books, and on TV.

Reviews:

"Complex ideas are made intelligible with the aid of sharp, and often stunning, design--gorgeous close-up photographs and smart infographics. The lovely depictions of the experiments supporting the science are particularly noteworthy."--Library Journal

"Our understanding of bird brains and behaviour has been revolutionised by recent studies of avian cognition, intelligence, brain anatomy, migration and tool use, and Nathan Emery, primatologist-turned-ornithologist, has been at the forefront of this revolution. He is well placed, therefore, to provide us with this very welcome summary of our current state of knowledge."--Tim Birkhead, Times Higher Education

"This book is a fascinating exploration of how birds learn, think and feel. The book looks at the structure of the avian brain and the abilities it provides to our feathered neighbors. It does this without being stuffy or beyond the reach of the general public with an interest in birds. Short essays on each topic allow a person to explore the book in snippets or to skip around the book to read whatever catches your eye."--A Charm of Finches blog

"The book is beautifully illustrated with high resolution pictures showing the diversity of birds and describing the complex methods birds use to successfully survive in an ever-changing world. The book also focuses on the relationships of birds to other animals and the environment."--NSTA Recommends

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Table of Contents:

Foreword 8
Introduction 10
1 From Bird Brain to Feathered Ape 16
2 Where Did I Hide that Worm? 40
3 Getting the Message Across 64
4 Feathered Friends (and Enemies) 88
5 The Right Tool for the Job 112
6 Know Thyself, and Other 136
7 No Longer Bird-Brains 160
Glossary 185
References 186
Further Reading & Index 188
Acknowledgements 192

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