The Battle of Bird Brains
I witnessed a memorable battle while in Rajasthan. It was a battle between a parrot and a pigeon for a hole in a tree which both wanted as their home. The screeching squawks of the parrots drew my attention to what was happening high above in a tree.
The pigeon was all alone fending for itself. Once in a while it would peep out all puffed up and charged, but would soon withdraw back to the hole. It went on for around ten minutes and I stay put there clicking shots wondering who will win. Initially there was only one parrot and a pigeon crouched inside the hole. Within minutes of relentless squawking one more parrot joined in and then another.
Parrots and Pigeons both rank high in avian intelligence. In fact a study says the forebrain of parrots is relatively the same size as that of monkeys and great apes. By brain size, what is meant or rather more relevant is the ‘brain-body’ ratio. It is from that point of view the sentence: “Chimpanzee is as intelligent as a six year old” makes sense. Another interesting computer analogy given by Pepperberg (1999) when comparing mammalian and avian brains is; mammalian brains are like IBM-PCs, whereas avian brains are like Apple Macintoshes; the wiring and processing are different, but the resulting output (i.e. behavior) is similar. And just as the components of the hardware which function distinguishes the various computers, the regions of brains that function, distinguishes the intelligence of the various species. Studies have shown both pigeons and parrots are intelligent.
Before I deviate further let me return to the scene of battle field, the only live battle that I witnessed in Rajasthan. The climax was over in seconds, unfortunately I could not capture that in my lens. The pigeon flew out and I did try to trail it with my camera, downloading later I saw there was no flying pigeon but just branches and the sky. Turning back to the scene, I found the parrot proudly occupying its home.