A study suggests that birds living in urban environments are smarter than birds from rural environments. It appears that city conditions may interfere at their cognition, behavior, and physiology, according to researchers from McGill University, Canada.
This is the first time that researchers have found cognitive differences when comparing birds from rural areas with birds from cities. The latter has shown bolder temperaments and better results at solving problems such as opening drawers to obtain food.
To analyze different behaviors of city birds and country birds, researchers subjected them to associative learning tasks and “innovative” problem-solving tasks. The paper has been published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.
Results would appear to show that birds from urbanized areas are more efficient at problem-solving tasks, moreover, they seem to have better immunity than birds from the country, according to Jean-Nicolas Audet, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology and first author of the study.
“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).” says Jean-Nicolas Audet, a Ph.D student in the Department of Biology at McGill University.
However, it appears that urban birds “have it all”, since they present better skills and also better immunity, which appears to be “surprising” to researchers from the study, as they mentioned in a video published Tuesday.
So, are humans helping animals to be smarter?
The tests were conducted in Barbados, where the team of researchers captured bullfinches from different parts of the Caribbean Island. According to Audet, Barbados is a great place to study the effects of urbanization, since it has very developed areas with buildings and human settlement while it also maintains virgin territories.
Researchers seem to suggest that humans have interfered in the development of the intelligence of species like the bullfinches, without being aware of it. It would be interesting if the team conducts similar investigations with other species, to see if their cognitive abilities change like it happened with bullfinches from Barbados.
Source: McGill University