Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Science: Birdwatching

A few weeks ago I have landed a window seat at work...

Does that mean my importance has increased? No, not really. It only means that the other desk was just too cold (not that this one is much warmer, for that matter). Plus, we're all moving office in a couple of weeks anyway, and I've no idea where I'll sit there (close to the loos, might very well be). Oh, and what does this all have to do with birdwatching? Have I finally gone completely bonkers and taken up that (in)famous British pastime? No, not really. However, having a window seat, and that window seat being on the ground floor, and that window being next to a lawn and a couple of trees, I have had the opportunity to watch a bird, hence bird-watching. The bird in question is a magpie. And a very proud magpie it is, and not just because it is in fact a European magpie (yes, there is a difference). It's trotting up and down the lawn most of the day as if on guard (it may be it's nest is in the bushes just on the edge of the lawn, next to the fence. It's trotting up and down so much I finally went to look up its habits and learn a bit more about it. And it is an interesting species, with the relative brain (and neostriatum) size not unlike primates, great apes, cetaceans, and us humans. Add to that tool use, mirror self-recognition, and you have the makings of a truly highly evolved and intelligent dinosaurs. Quite interesting, to borrow a phrase from the venerable Stephen Fry.

And to think we thought us mammals are the undisputed kings of the hill...