List of the smartest birds

Updated July 20, 2017

When it comes to birds, a special few stand above the rest. For instance, pigeons, crows, ravens, vultures and parrots are considered the most intelligent of birds. What distinguishes these birds is their intellectual behaviour, including awareness, interactions and feeding practices. Each of these birds has intelligent capabilities that ornitholoists, who study birds, categorise as brainy behaviour.

Homing Pigeon

The homing pigeon is a domestic pigeon that is able to find its way back home. This pigeon has an instinctive ability to map the route to where it nests. Soldiers used homing pigeons to deliver messages in World War I and World War II, according to the website America in WW2. The birds were taken from their nests and carried by troops on missions. When a soldier wanted to send a message, he attached the message to the leg of a pigeon, and then released the pigeon into the air. The pigeon would fly back to its nest, for reading. The head of a homing pigeon is dark bluish-grey, and its chest is a glossy greenish with a mixture of yellowish and reddish-purple amid the wing feathers. The normal homing pigeon averages ½ pound in weight and measures 12 to 14½ inches long with a 1-to-1½- foot wingspan.

African Grey Parrots

African greys are intelligent birds that can mimic human speech. Because African greys are so intelligent, they become bored easily. With boredom comes behaviour problems, as the bird will perform unusual behaviours such as plucking its feathers, making loud noises and biting objects. Owners of these birds must show them the proper amount of attention to keep them engaged in learning. African grey parrots average about 13 inches long and have small, light grey feathers. Some African grey parrots have the ability to mimic human speech, recognise words and speak short sentences. Young African greys, much like young children, develop social skills by interacting with other parrots.

Crows and Ravens

A raven is much larger than a crow. Ravens average about 2 feet tall with a 3 ½-foot wingspan, and crows are around 1 ½ feet tall and their wings span 2 ½ -feet. Crows and ravens score very highly on intelligence tests, according to Dr. Kevin J. McGowan, an ornithology scientist at Cornell University. Crows and ravens can create tools to enable them to obtain food. They are capable of hiding and even storing food for keeping throughout the year. Crows and ravens' uncanny ability to remember allows the birds to return to areas such as farms and residential homes to rummage for food.

Turkey Vultures

The turkey vulture is a scavenger bird found throughout North America. This bird has a wingspan of 5 1/2 feet; it can measure up to 3 feet tall and weigh 0.907 to 2.27 Kilogram. A turkey vulture has a featherless, dark brown to black reddish head and hooked, whitish-coloured beak. The turkey vulture is a scavenger and feeds mainly on carcases. This large bird finds meals using its highly sensitive vision and sense of smell. A turkey vulture's sense of smell is unusually acute. Turkey vultures will fly low and pick up a dead animal's scent from the gas given off by the deceased creature. The olfactory lobe within the vulture's brain, the part of the brain responsible for processing smell, is exceptionally large when compared to other birds and animals, according to the website Adirondack Wildlife.

Falcons and Hawks

The definition of falconry, also called "hawking" or "game hawking" is the capturing of a wild bird within its natural habitat and training the raptor to respond to commands. Throughout the ages, man has captured birds such as falcons and hawks to hunt rabbits, squirrels and even other birds, according to the website PBS Online. In modern times, falcons and hawks have become prominent mascots at sports arenas, as the birds show off their aerial abilities by flying from the hands of their trainers to a spot within a stadium. The Atlanta Falcons a professional football team uses a trained falcon that flies to the centre of the field before a football game begins.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Thomas Ganio began writing in 2006 for the "Northern Virginia Daily," a community newspaper in Richmond, Va. As a freelance writer, he has also contributed to "The Maryland Springs Gazette" and the Parks and Recreation Department of Richmond County, Md. Ganio holds a Bachelor of Arts in social science and English from James Madison University.