Birds in the City Smarter than Birds in Countryside

May 17, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. fare / fɛər / (v.) – to perform well or badly
Example: The children fared well in the contest after training very hard.

2. untouched / ʌnˈtʌtʃt / (adj.) – not yet explored or altered by human activity
Example: The remote beach remained untouched by tourists until a few years ago.

3. associate / əˈsoʊ ʃiˌeɪt / (v.) – to relate something with a thought, feeling, memory, or another object
Example: The dog associated the sound of the bell with food.

4. temperament / ˈtɛm pər ə mənt / (n.) – a person or animal’s general mood or attitude
Example: His cat shows a fearful temperament towards strangers.

5. predator / ˈprɛd ə tər / (n.) – an animal that eats another animal for food
Example: Lions are one of the jungle’s largest predators.


Read the text below.
Birds in the city are smarter than birds in the countryside, a study from McGill University discovered.

The study observed 53 bullfinches captured from urban and rural areas in Barbados to find out how the birds would fare in different problem-solving tasks. According to the researchers, they chose Barbados because of the wide range of human settlements in the island. Some areas in Barbados are very developed, while others remain untouched, making it an excellent place to study the effects of urbanization.

The problem-solving tasks given to the birds tested their ability to associate information with food. Some also tested their innovativeness in using objects for certain tasks. The results showed that city birds did better than country birds in all the tasks. For instance, city birds were able to open drawers with food faster.

The researchers explained that the city birds performed better because they have already adapted to their urban environment, allowing them to use objects more innovatively. Aside from being smarter, city birds were also found to have a bolder temperament, as well as stronger immunity against infection, showing that there are indeed significant differences between city birds and country birds.

Aside from the differences discovered in the study, other differences have also been found in previous studies.

One study found that city birds react less aggressively to predators than country birds. Another study found that city birds sing louder and at a higher pitch than birds in the countryside. This is because city birds need to compete with greater noise pollution in the city, such as noise coming from cars.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think birds settle in the city?
·         How else do you think birds are affected by living in urban areas?

Discussion B

·         What do you think would happen if animals raised in captivity (e.g. zoo animals) were suddenly returned to their natural habitat?
·         What skills do animals have to gain to survive living in urban areas?

May 17, 2016