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Bird IQ "Measured"


Crows and jays are the brain boxes of the bird world, according to a
Canadian scientist who has invented a method of measuring avian IQ.

The IQ scale is based on the number of novel feeding behaviours shown by
birds in the wild.

The test's creator Dr Louis Lefebvre was surprised that parrots were not
high in the pecking order - despite their relatively large brains.

The research was presented at a major science conference in Washington DC. 

The avian intelligence index is based on 2,000 reports of feeding
"innovations" observed in the wild and published in ornithology journals
over a period of 75 years.

"We gathered as many examples as we could from the short notes of
ornithology journals about the feeding behaviours that people had never
seen or were unusual," said Dr Lefebvre, of McGill University in Montreal,

"From that we established different numbers for different birds. There are
differences. There are some kinds of birds that score higher than others.

"The crows, the jays, that kind of bird - the corvidae - are the tops;
then the falcons are second, the hawks the herons and the woodpecker rank
quite high." 
Many of the birds that ranked high on the innovation scale are the least
popular with the public.

"When you look at published reports on whether people like birds or don't
like birds, they don't correlate well with intelligence," said the McGill

"People tend not to like crows, because they have this fiendish look to
them and they're black and they like dead prey. Warblers and the birds
that people tend to like are not the high innovators."

But Dr Lefebvre said the scale did not measure how smart birds were, only
how "innovative".

"With the word 'smart' you have to have a value judgment. You can never
know whether a bird has been learning by observation or has figured
something out by itself."