Birdorable Magpie looking in a mirror

Scientists at the Goethe University in Frankfurt have been studying European Magpies to prove that these smart birds are not bird-brained. It is widely accepted that self-awareness is a prerequisite for the development of consciousness. Besides humans, there had already been evidence that bottlenose dolphins, other apes and elephants have the capability to be self aware. Now magpies can be added to the list. The researchers used a series of tests to determine if their hand-raised birds could recognize themselves in a mirror.

They placed yellow and red stickers on the birds in places where they could only be seen in a mirror. The magpies became focused on removing the stickers after seeing them in the mirror and tried to scratch them off with their claws and beaks. After removing the sticker they would stop this behavior. The researchers also found that the birds would ignore the stickers if they were placed where they could not see them in the mirror or when the stickers were black in color. Here's a short video of the magpie and the mirror:

Cute Magpie Gifts

Piping Plovers have been on our minds this last week since we've been reading about them on some of our favorite blogs recently. These cute little shorebirds are unfortunately threatened / endangered (depending on the habitat / population) and several breeding areas, including Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, are off-limits to pedestrians to help protect the species.

Recently the Endangered Species Act itself has become threatened by a proposal from the Bush Administration. The proposal would allow federal agencies to decide on the effects their projects might have on species without expert, outside consultation.

You can help fight this legislation, which does not require Congressional approval, by sending a message to the Secretary of Interior via the National Wildlife Federation website.

Birdorable Piping Plover