City birds smarter than their rural counterparts!

Toronto, March 22 (IANS) Life in the city changes cognition, behaviour and physiology of birds to their advantage, making those living in urban environments far more superior than the ones from rural environments.

City birds have adapted to their urban environments enabling them to exploit new resources more favourably then their rural counterparts, the researchers said.

The study that aimed to find clear cognitive differences in birds from urbanised compared to rural areas, reported key differences in problem-solving abilities such as opening drawers to access food, and temperament (bolder) among city birds versus country birds.

The team tested the two groups of birds using not only associative learning tasks, but innovative problem solving tasks.

Innovativeness is considered to be useful in the “real life” of animals in the wild, more so than associative learning.

“We found that not only were birds from urbanised 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,” said first author of the study Jean-Nicolas Audet from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

The work was conducted using bullfinches captured from various parts of the Caribbean island.

The findings were published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

“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,” Audet said.

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