City Birds Are Smarter Than Rural Ones: Study

Posted: Mar 22 2016, 9:51pm CDT | by , Updated: Mar 22 2016, 10:54pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
City Birds are Smarter than Rural Ones: Study
Credit: McGill University

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Urban birds are better in problem-solving tasks compared to rural birds. They also have stronger immune systems.

Birds living in the cities are smarter than their rural counterparts, according to research.

McGill University researchers suggest that city birds may have an edge over country birds due to the difference in environments. Birds living in urban environments have more opportunities to explore and to exploit new resources than those living in rural environments.

In city life, birds learn enormously which ultimately affects their cognition, behavior and physiology. They start to think out of the box and respond better in problem solving tasks such as opening drawer to access food and other life sustaining needs compared to their rural cousins.

To test their problem-solving abilities, researchers put the two groups of birds through a series of tasks including how to slide jar out from under shelf using long handle and how to get birdseed by opening drawers.

Researchers found there was a clear cognitive difference between birds from urbanized and rural areas. City birds were bolder in their approach. When humans presented them the food and hid, birds were less cared about how likely a human can interrupt their meal. Moreover, city birds were more physically fit and healthier than their rural counterparts. Though, they were not any better or worse in color discrimination.

“We found that not only were birds from urbanized areas better at innovative problem-solving tasks than bullfinches from rural environments, but that surprisingly urban birds also had a better immunity than rural birds,” said Jean-Nicolas Audet, one of the authors involved in the study.

“Since urban birds were better in problem-solving, we expected that there would be a trade-off and that the immunity would be lower, just because we assumed that you can’t be good at everything (in fact, both traits are costly). It seems that in this case, the urban birds have it all.”

For the study, researchers used 53 bullfinches captured from various parts of Caribbean island.

“The island of Barbados shows a strong range of human settlement, there are some very developed areas but also mostly left untouched, thus providing an excellent environment to affects of urbanization.” Audet said.

However, researchers suggest that the study is conducted at a very small scale, so it can’t be assumed that these findings are true for birds all over the world – or even for birds all over Barbados.

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