268 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations, tables
In her comprehensive and carefully crafted book, Gisela Kaplan demonstrates how intelligent and emotional Australian birds can be. She describes complex behaviours such as grieving, deception, problem solving and the use of tools. Many Australian birds cooperate and defend each other, and exceptional ones go fishing by throwing breadcrumbs in the water, extract poisonous parts from prey and use tools to crack open eggshells and mussels. Kaplan brings together evidence of many such cognitive abilities, suggesting plausible reasons for their appearance in Australian birds.
Bird Minds is the first attempt to shine a critical and scientific light on the cognitive behaviour of Australian land birds. In this fascinating volume, the author also presents recent changes in our understanding of the avian brain and links these to life histories and longevity.
Following on from Kaplan's well-received books on the Australian Magpie and the Tawny Frogmouth, as well as two earlier titles on birds, Bird Minds contends that the unique and often difficult conditions of Australia's environment have been crucial for the evolution of unusual complexities in avian cognition and behaviour.
1 Australian conditions and their consequences
2 Cooperative behaviour of groups and pairs
3 The expression of emotions
4 Learning and development
5 Master songbirds and mimics
6 Cognitive abilities
7 Food switchers and food explorers
8 Implications for the care of captive native birds
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Gisela Kaplan is a Professor at the University of New England and an Honorary Professor at the Queensland Brain Institute. She is the author of over 250 research articles and 21 books and has conducted groundbreaking research into vocal learning, communication and cognition in birds and other vertebrates. She holds two PhDs and an honorary DSc for her contributions to life sciences. In addition to extensive research on birds in the wild, for the past two decades she has also raised and rehabilitated injured native birds.