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Bird Brain Behaviors

Updated on July 23, 2012

The expression "Bird Brain"

Most everyone has heard the expression, “Bird Brain”. The tiny brain of the bird is totally under appreciated. Bird Brain is a slang name someone is called by another wanting to attach a less than intelligent title to their victim. The name caller may not know how intelligent most birds are. They may actually be giving a compliment to the person they thought they were slamming. Anyone who has studied the behavior of birds, know our feathered friends are smart. Nature guides them with instincts man is lacking. Survival for the birds depends on their brain power. Knowledge packed into a bird’s brain compared to other species on this planet may surprise us.


Smart Things I Witnessed From Wild Birds

One day while visiting a local super market I saw an injured crow walking around the parking lot. It could not fly. It walked slowly, so it’s likely the poor thing had hurt a leg as well. Prior to leaving the store I heard one of the store’s box boys state, he had coaxed the bird away because he was afraid it would get run over and leave them a mess to clean up. As I went to my car I saw the crow attempting to cross the road at a crosswalk. He actually was cautious watching for traffic. People yielded to this pedestrian and I was truly amazed by him. How he got hurt or why he was in the parking lot is a mystery, but this fellow appeared to be smart. He just may overcome his handicap.

This spring I had chick-a-dees nest in a birdhouse on the side of my porch which usually is occupied by swallows. The chick-a-dees were regular guest to a suet bag hanging nearby. I’m sure these tiny bird brains thought it a good idea to raise their young close to the dinner table. At first I thought they were only after insects there. Until then I had no idea chick-a-dees would even use a nest box. I have many nest boxes located around my property and try to place new ones out each year to encourage my feathered friends to stay.

Perhaps living side by side with man has given them a better means for survival. Towns and cities have nearly as many birds as the country’s rural areas. Birds are not frightened by modern man as much as one would think. Loud motors and the everyday surrounding of man do not discourage many birds. They find clever ways to make our present less bothering to them.

My brother had a barn swallow nest in the over head awning of his farm tractor one year. He drove this tractor daily to work the fields. He parked it in nearly the same location every night and the swallows never bothered him. It was as though he was their baby sitter. The tiny chicks knew nothing of any danger so the noise of the tractor could have been their lullaby. I don’t think they ever nested there again, so maybe they decided against using a motor home.

The birds visit places where easy access to food is available. Backyard feeders are becoming more popular, but the feeders are not the only attraction. Restaurants and tourist attractions draw birds to eat discarded human food. We must never under estimate the bird brain for intelligences. Take out a sandwich on the boardwalk of Atlantic City and you’ll find it a calling card for dinner guest. Seagulls will fight one another to get that tiny crumb you may have dropped and any people walking nearby will be forced to detour.

Domestic Birds Show Intelligence Without Training

Wild birds are not alone in the smarts department. Domestic birds are intelligent as well. Birds are ideal pets. Some birds will demonstrate unique talents without having any special training at all. My husband once had a parakeet who thought he was a music critique. He only sang along to songs he liked. He would stay quiet if the song wasn’t of his liking, but if he hated the tune, he would get very loud until you stopped playing it. He really liked the old country classics and bluegrass. This parakeet liked the same kind of tunes his owner did.

My daughter had a Connor Parrot which showed great intelligence. He was free to roam around as he pleased. Her family loved this bird and their dogs never harmed it. They named him Connor. Connor would sit on my daughter’s shoulder as she went about her business. He also liked to eat what she was having or drink right out of her cup. He was a spoiled bird for sure and curious to his surroundings. He wanted to be the center of attraction and often was just that. Connor was adopted out free of charge because a Macaw Parrot had bitten the end of his beak off and the previous owner needed a good home for him pronto. He looked a bit funny, but made up for it in personality. For a parrot who did not talk he had a lot of personality. My daughter loves birds and had lost her peril Cockatiel a couple years before this. She swore she’d never let herself get that attached again until Connor come along. Sadly Connor became victim of an accident after following my daughter to the front door of her house. She hadn’t noticed him behind her when she closed the door against him. It was a sad day for the whole family. This was nearly four years ago. Someday I’m sure she’ll welcome another bird into her home, but she hasn’t yet. Connor will be a hard act to follow.

Connor and my daughter Sarah enjoying a piece of Birthday cake
Connor and my daughter Sarah enjoying a piece of Birthday cake | Source

Bird Brain is not a Bad Name

Bird lovers will tell you birds are smart. Wild or domestic, large or small, birds are as individual as any other species here on earth. Perhaps we can learn a great deal from the birds. Stories about birds and their behavior are interesting. Nature gave great instincts to the birds. But instinct is only part of what these creatures have to offer. If anyone calls me a Bird Brain I will take it as a compliment. Even though I know that would not be their intentions at all.


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    • Diana Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana L Pierce 

      7 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thanks for stopping by, whalefeather2. Birds have always been fascinating to watch.

    • whalefeather2 profile image


      7 years ago

      I am a bird watcher. NOT the kind that chases the birds and records them, just love to observe them in my yard and surrounding area. I really enjoy my time with the birds..LOL

    • Diana Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana L Pierce 

      7 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      Thank you, kristylean for visiting my hub. Yes, I agree we don't give any animal enough credit for brain power.

    • kristyleann profile image

      Kristy LeAnn 

      7 years ago from Princeton, WV

      I think all animals are so much smarter than people give them credit for. I'm glad that crow made it across the road okay. I wonder how he got hurt though. :( I hope he'll be okay.

      Speaking of bird behavior...the other day there was an owl (in the middle of the day) sitting on the roof of our house. We thought that was pretty odd lol...I wonder what he was doing there? My boyfriend jokingly said that it was probably casing the joint to rob us later lol...


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