7 Awesome Things Birds Can Do
By Will McGough
If you live in any U.S. city, you probably think those pesky, puke-eating pigeons and their feathered friends are pretty brain dead. Don’t be fooled. Birds are capable of some pretty amazing feats, and we’ve provided a sampling below. Know any other cool things birds can do? Share the love in the comments below.
1. Look Extremely Beautiful Without Any Makeup
Humans spend a crazy amount of money on tattoos to dye their skin, and also a hell of a lot of time in front of the mirror. Are we jealous of these ridiculously colored birds? Maybe a little.
2. Take Photographs
A “carrier pigeon,” which is not a specific breed but rather an occupation, can be trained to fly between two points rather reliably, typically by placing their food at one location and their nest at another. People have actually used this method to deliver messages, but German apothecary Julius Neubronner took it a step further when he strapped a time-delay camera to a bird and invented pigeon photography, which was tested out for military use in WWI.
3. Make and Use Weapons
In fact, a lot of birds use tools to help them hunt. For example, the woodpecker finch from the Galápagos Islands uses a twig to pry insects out of bark, as does the Caledonian crow, who uses its beak to sharpen sticks into spears.
4. Speak Better English Than a Toddler
This goes beyond “Polly want a cracker.” An African grey parrot learned a vocabulary of more than 100 words and the labels of more than 35 objects.
5. Become Art Snobs
A 1995 study showed that pigeons can learn to distinguish a painting by Picasso from one by Monet. The study humorously noted that if birds and students went through the same training methods, the students might too learn the differences.
6. Build Incredibly Small Houses Out of Whatever
And here we are, struggling to construct our IKEA furniture. Ever see how small a hummingbird nest is? The size of a key sounds about right. And house finches will literally use whatever they can find. This photographer is so obsessed with nests, he takes pictures of them all the time.
7. Fly Really Far Distances Without Complaining
Talk about nonstop service! A shore bird called the whimbrel can navigate tropical storms, fly nearly 30 miles per hour, and has been documented as flying nonstop for thousands of miles. One tagged bird researchers were keeping an eye on flew seven nonstop flights of more than 2000 miles each before it was shot by hunters on Guadeloupe.