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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Next time someone calls you a bird-brain, say thank-you

Written by Sheryl Ubelacker of the The Canadian Press

"It's long been considered an insult to call a person a “bird-brain.” But experiments with one species of crow suggest that referring to someone this way might actually be a compliment."

"Experiments by researchers at Oxford University show that New Caledonian crows in captivity spontaneously used up to three tools in the correct sequence to achieve a goal – a feat never before seen in non-human animals without explicit training."

"Five out of seven birds tested figured out how to extract different lengths of sticks from tubes so they could ultimately get one long enough to fish out a morsel of food at the bottom of the deepest tube."

"In all, the crows needed three sticks of different lengths to achieve their objective of reaching the food – and four of the five successful birds came up with the sequence needed on the first try."

“It is amazing to see. It was wonderful to watch,” said zoologist Jo Wimpenny, lead researcher of a paper on the experiments published in this week's issue of the journal PLoS One.

“They use tools naturally in the wild,” she said of the crows ( Corvus moneduloides ), which populate the New Caledonia and Loyalty islands off the east coast of Australia in the south Pacific. “All members of this particular species make and use tools, and they do so to probe for larvae and grubs and things in rotten wood.”

To read the remainder of this article go to: or click on the title to this blog entry.

Source of photo:"Portrait of Betty 2" by Alex Weir/Behavioural Ecology Research Group, University of Oxford (color photograph)

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.