Logo
Bird Intelligence -- European Magpie
Top Graphic



The next you are accused of "chattering like a magpie" you can take it as a compliment.  You have been compared to one of nature's most intelligent birds.

Like other members of the corvids, the Magpie is a social animal with complex and frequent vocalizations.  They love to steal and hoard shiny objects -- including the wedding ring you temporarily set aside while gardening.  Magpies develop this ability in the first few months of life -- and like Scrub Jays, retain an episode-like recollection of the "what/where/when" details about their stashes.

However, the magpie can also perform an intellectual feat that makes it unique among avian species -- recognizing itself in a mirror.

Self-recognition can be tested by placing a hidden mark on an animal that is only visible in a mirror.  When the animal begins scratching or pawing at the mark, this indicates the animal understands the reflection is an image of itself. This intelligence test has been successfully performed with elephants, dolphins and apes -- and now in Magpies, marked with yellow spots on their throats.  Three out of five of the birds quickly spotted the mark in the mirror and attempted to remove it.

  European Magpie

The birds also showed other interesting behaviors -- lifting their feet and watching the result in a mirror, or peeking behind the mirror -- activities identical to a young human child discovering a mirror for the first time.  These observations suggest that in addition to sharing our love of conversation, society and curiosity about the world around us -- Magpies also possess the elusive quality of self-awareness.


Add to Favorites
BirdMinds.com

Top Graphic
next page


 

Return to BirdMinds.com

 Got a comment? E-Mail us at Feedback@BirdMinds.com
Or visit our new forum for discussion.