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  1. Bird intelligence
  2. Birds' Judgments of Number and Quantity
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Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. One person found this helpful. I ordered this product, and received 3 functional books. The cookie monster numbers book was an upside down alphabet book. I was highly disappointed as it was one of my childs birthday presents and she admires cookie monster. One, based on a visuo-spatial sense, enables them to assess the number of items presented simultaneously in a group, while the other allows them to assess the number of events that occur successively, or spread out in time.

Koehler devised various training procedures to investigate these abilities. Pigeons were trained, for instance, to approach a strip of cardboard on which there were two sets of grain that differed in number. A bird had to choose the set containing a particular amount e. See Figure 1 for a reconstruction of this type of choice.

Bird intelligence

To prevent it eating the other set of say 3 grains , Koehler shooed the bird away if it reached toward the incorrect group. At different stages of training, the correct set sometimes contained the larger and sometimes the smaller number of grains. Every effort was made to avoid cueing of the type that Clever Hans had utilized. The experimenter hid behind a screen, out of sight of the bird. The punishment of shooing a bird away was delivered in a standardized fashion by a mechanical device.

Birds' Judgments of Number and Quantity

Punishment for incorrect choices was withheld on some test trials. Also, the reactions of the birds were filmed to provide an objective record of their behavior. One jackdaw in particular was successful in a matching to sample task. After looking at an array of blobs on a "sample" card, the bird had to remove the lid from one of two pots in order to find a hidden food reward.

On each lid were other arrays. A correct choice, which led to reward, was to remove the lid with the same number of marks as on the sample card. An incorrect and thus unrewarded choice was to remove the lid in which the number of marks differed from the sample number. The bird that performed best on this task could match the numbers of items on the sample card and the comparison lid even when the configuration of blobs and their sizes differed both between and within trials , so that the only common feature was their number. Another jackdaw was correct in its matching behavior when the patterns of the blobs differed between the card and the numerically matching lid, but its choices were not statistically reliable when the blob sizes varied.

Instead, it could have been comparing the overall areas of the stimulus marks on the card with those on the lids. For instance, pigeons and budgerigars were trained to eat only a given number of seeds from a much larger number they saw. So if they were required to take exactly 4 seeds their behavior was scored as correct if they walked away after eating the fourth food item, but they were automatically shooed away if they tried to eat a fifth item. The accuracy of their performance was tested on trials in which this mild punishment was withheld.

In another experiment with pigeons, peas were delivered one at a time down a chute into a large dish. In this experiment, the time interval between deliveries was randomly varied to prevent the birds estimating the total time that had expired, rather than the number of items taken. Koehler also argued that it was the number of peas, rather than the number of pecks, or the pecking rhythm, that was important since the pigeons often had to peck several times at a rolling pea before they could grasp it.

With jackdaws, the task consisted of taking the lids off pots until a specific number of hidden food items had been retrieved, after which the remaining pots in the row would be empty. The important feature of this experiment was that on successive trials, the same number of food items was differently distributed. Suppose that the number of food items available was 2, but their distribution varied across trials. The bird had to open just one pot if both items were in the first pot, 5 pots if there was one piece of food in the first and in the fifth pots, 2 pots if 1 item was hidden in each of the first two pots in the row, etc.

From these and other studies, Koehler concluded that birds have at least a limited ability to discriminate objects or events on the basis of their numerosity and inferred that animals have some way of internally tagging the items they have seen or responded to. Koehler was careful to say that animals do not seem to count in the way that an adult human might by precisely enumerating items with a fixed series of symbolic labels e.

Rather, he argued that animals learn what he called "unnamed numbers", so that four items might be represented by a series of inner marks or tags. He also noted that different species showed remarkable similarities in the limits of their ability to discriminate numerosity. Mostly the accuracy of their performance broke down when the number of items or events they had to respond to was between 5 and 6, or 6 and 7 Koehler, Wesley pointed out, for instance, that there was little control for olfactory cues in the experiments involving hidden food, and that seeds were arranged by hand on cards, which could have led to some subjective bias.

The number and the size of dots in the arrays varied across training trials, but pecks at the array containing the greater number of dots always led to food reward whereas pecks to the less numerous array led to timeout a short period of darkness. After they had reached a fairly stable level of choosing the greater numerosity on training trials, transfer trials with novel stimulus arrays were later added.

Some of these novel test stimuli are shown in Figure 2.


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As an additional control for brightness differences, luminance was equated in each pair of test arrays. When the test data for various numerical combinations were averaged across birds and test sessions, the results resembled those found by Koehler. In this case, the pigeons could still discriminate arrays of 6 vs. However, more recent research, described later in this chapter, has shown that the question of the limits of discrimination has wider implications than was previously supposed. He and his colleagues devised a remarkable variety of procedures for training and testing a wide range of species.

Further research has been completed since those reviews appeared. Number as an Abstract Property Number represents one of the abstract properties of items or events in the environment, or of actions that organisms can perform. For instance, "five" might be our verbal label to describe a group of large oranges, a line of small pebbles, a series of whistles, or how many times we knock on a door. Animals presumably also have a way of internally representing or encoding and remembering these different amounts. However, as Koehler pointed out, animals obviously rely on non-verbal coding mechanisms to discriminate and store information about number.

Only a few studies have shown that animals can learn symbols, similar to our digits, to represent the number of things, but they do this only after prolonged training. Most of the experiments described in this chapter correspond to two types of numerical competence. Birds have been tested mainly for their ability to discriminate numerosity.

Numerosity discrimination requires only relative or ordinal judgments.

A control period without the mirror yielded no pecking at the dot. But when the mirror was shown, the pigeon became active, looked into it and then tried to peck on the dot under the bib. Untrained pigeons have never been able to pass the mirror test. However, pigeons do not normally have access to mirrors and do not have the necessary experiences to use them. Giving a pigeon this experience in no way guaranteed it would pass the mirror test, since the pigeon never pecked dots on its own body in the presence of the mirror until the final test.

Despite this, the birds are not classified as being able to recognize their reflection, because those that did were trained to do so and the animal must be able to do this without human assistance: But even when an animal is trained to do this, it is still unknown if they are self-aware, or are just repeating the same movements and commands that they were taught so that they may receive a treat as a reward after they have correctly completed their task. Some studies have suggested that birds—separated from mammals by over million years of independent evolution—have developed brains capable of primate-like consciousness through a process of convergent evolution.

Many birds have been shown capable of using tools. The definition of a tool has been debated. One proposed definition of tool use has been defined by T. Kamil in as. By this definition, a bearded vulture lammergeier dropping a bone on a rock would not be using a tool since the rock cannot be seen as an extension of the body. However the use of a rock manipulated using the beak to crack an ostrich egg would qualify the Egyptian vulture as a tool user.

Many other species , including parrots, corvids and a range of passerines, have been noted as tool users. New Caledonian crows have been observed in the wild to use sticks with their beaks to extract insects from logs. While young birds in the wild normally learn this technique from elders, a laboratory crow named "Betty" improvised a hooked tool from a wire with no prior experience.

Crows in urban Japan and the United States have innovated a technique to crack hard-shelled nuts by dropping them onto crosswalks and letting them be run over and cracked by cars.

They then retrieve the cracked nuts when the cars are stopped at the red light. Using rewards to reinforce responses is often used in laboratories to test intelligence. However, the ability of animals to learn by observation and imitation is considered more significant. Crows have been noted for their ability to learn from each other. At the beginning of the 20th century, scientists argued that the birds had hyper-developed basal ganglia, with tiny mammalian-like telencephalon structures. Studies with captive birds have given insight into which birds are the most intelligent.

While parrots have the distinction of being able to mimic human speech, studies with the grey parrot have shown that some are able to associate words with their meanings and form simple sentences see Alex. Parrots and the corvid family of crows, ravens, and jays are considered the most intelligent of birds. Not surprisingly, research has shown that these species tend to have the largest HVCs. Karten, a neuroscientist at UCSD who has studied the physiology of birds, has discovered that the lower parts of avian brains are similar to those of humans.

Social life has been considered to be a driving force for the evolution of intelligence. Many birds have social organizations, and loose aggregations are common. Many corvid species separate into small family groups or "clans" for activities such as nesting and territorial defense.

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The birds then congregate in massive flocks made up of several different species for migratory purposes. Some birds use teamwork while hunting. Predatory birds hunting in pairs have been observed using a "bait and switch" technique, whereby one bird will distract the prey while the other swoops in for the kill. Social behavior requires individual identification, and most birds appear to be capable of recognizing mates, siblings and young.

Other behaviors such as play and cooperative breeding are also considered indicators of intelligence. Crows appear to be able to remember who observed them caching food. They also steal food cached by others. In some fairy-wrens such as the superb and red-backed , males pick flower petals in colors contrasting with their bright nuptial plumage and present them to others of their species that will acknowledge, inspect and sometimes manipulate the petals.

This function seems not linked to sexual or aggressive activity in the short and medium term thereafter, though its function is apparently not aggressive and quite possibly sexual. Birds communicate with their flockmates through song, calls, and body language. Studies have shown that the intricate territorial songs of some birds must be learned at an early age, and that the memory of the song will serve the bird for the rest of its life. Some bird species are able to communicate in several regional varieties of their songs.

For example, the New Zealand saddleback will learn the different song "dialects" of clans of its own species, much as human beings might acquire diverse regional dialects. When a territory-owning male of the species dies, a young male will immediately take his place, singing to prospective mates in the dialect appropriate to the territory he is in. Recent studies indicate that some birds may have an ability to memorize "syntactic" patterns of sounds, and that they can be taught to reject the ones determined to be incorrect by the human trainers.

These experiments were carried out by combining whistles, rattles, warbles, and high-frequency motifs. Evidence that birds can form abstract concepts such as same v. Alex was trained by animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg to vocally label more than objects of different colors and shapes and which are made from different materials. Alex could also request or refuse these objects 'I want X' and quantify numbers of them.