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The Minds of Birds

Because of the recent postings concerning birds, I thought the 
following from the Texas A & M University Press, Fall/Winter 1995 
Catalog, might be of interest:

The Minds of Birds
Alexander F. Skutch
Illustrations by Dana Gardner

"In this controversial culmination of a lifelong quest, Alexander F. 
Skutch, A well-known ornithologist who has studied birds for more 
than sixty years, makes a case for believing that birds' mental 
capacities have been grossly understimated.

Lacking hard scientific proofs of what birds think and feel, we are 
left, Skutch argues, with inferences gleaned from observation of 
their behavior.  His intimate, six-decade study of tropical and north 
temperate birds and his wide survey of the literature inform this 
remarkable review of the psychic life of birds.

Althugh birds vary widely by species, many of them have a striking 
ability to recognize as individuals not only other birds of teir own 
kind (which all look alike to humans), but also familiar humans, even 
after a long absence.  They have good memories and give indications 
of forethought.  They can be taught to count up to eight, and some 
are known to use tools.  The nests of bower birds and the songs of 
many other species also point strongly to an aesthetic sense.  The 
journies of migrants between breeding and wintering territories 
thousands of miles apart speak of memory and navigational skills that 
baffle human observers.

True, Skutch concludes, inferential evidence only suggests hyoptheses 
and cannot offer scientific proof.  Nonetheless, his carefully 
gathered and documented observations, delightfully reported, accord 
with the intuition of many bird lovers that birds are not unfeeling 
automata but sensitive creatures, aware of what they do.

The Minds of Birds
0-89096-671-0 cloth $29.95


Texas A & M University Press
Drawer C
College Station, Texas 77843-4354
(M-F, 8:00-5:00, central time)

Sorry for the long post, and as before, pardon any finger-checks as 
they are mine!

Randy Franek                           University of North Texas
Internet: Franek@cc1.unt.edu           Computing Center
Phone: (817) 565-2291                  P. O. Box 13495
FAX:   (817) 565-4060                  Denton, TX  76203-3495