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Urban Birds Smarter Than Rural Counterparts

FILE - A bullfinch is seen opening a container. (Louis Lefebvre)
FILE - A bullfinch is seen opening a container. (Louis Lefebvre)

Those pigeons you see by the tens in many cities, may be smarter than their less urban counterparts, according to a new study.

Writing in the journal Behavioral Ecology, researchers from Canada’s McGill University say that may be because they’ve had to adapt to city life by learning to take advantage of new sources of food and other life-sustaining needs.

For the study, the researchers compared urban and rural bullfinches in Barbados, looking for “differences in problem-solving abilities such as opening drawers to access food," and city birds had a bolder temperament.

"We found that not only were birds from urbanized 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," says Jean-Nicolas Audet, a Ph.D student in the Department of Biology and first author of the study.

He added that his team expected to see a trade-off, "just because we assumed that you can't be good at everything. It seems that in this case, the urban birds have it all."

Here's a video about the study:

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