Bird Brain: When size really doesn’t matter

The wonderful Aves, who reached the skies far before any human, are also capable of love, dreaming, problem solving, making tools, reflecting, socialising and playing. Photo Credit: Nicola Bail

They’re on our coat of arms, but from my most recent experience when camping last summer, I’m hoping that emus aren’t a representation of our national education system. With glowing red eyes, a misty grey plumage and a low booming mating sound resonating from a throat almost a meter in length, the female emu trespassing on our camping site cut a rather impressive figure…until she tripped over a branch, walked into the fire and tried to peck our eggs out of boiling water.

Watching and snapping pictures from the safety of our tents we realised that the second largest bird in the world, Dromaius novaehollandiae,with prehistoric tridactyl feet, was looking increasingly goofy as she tried to pick an egg out of boiling water five times, almost ran into the fire twice and tried to drink the fuel, before we hustled her away. Someone snorted “What a bird brain…” and we all laughed, secure in our own Homo sapien cognitive capabilities.