City Birds Are Smarter Than Country Birds, New Study Finds

March 24, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

Barbados Bullfinch (Loxigilla barbadensis)
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Birds living in cities change cognition, behavior, and physiology to adapt to their busy urban surroundings.

A team of researchers at McGill University have found that birds living in urban environments, like big cities, adapt more effectively than their country counterparts, allowing them to better exploit necessary resources. This is the first study to pinpoint a clear cognitive difference between birds from cities and rural areas.

The researchers tested two groups of native bullfinch birds from Barbados, some from urbanized areas with lots of human settlement and the others from rural and untouched country parts, and assessed the birds on associated learning, and problem solving tasks.

SEE ALSO: How Smart Are Crows? The Answer May Shock You.

The video below discusses the research that was done by the team at McGill University:


Lead author of the study, Jean-Nicolas Audet, stated in a news release,“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.”

He went on to say, “Since urban birds were better at 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.”

The study was published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

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