What is the dumbest bird?

Let’s take a lighthearted flight into the avian world as we explore the question that’s been buzzing in my mind: what is the dumbest bird? From the majestic and intelligent creatures that soar through the skies to the quirky and peculiar ones that often leave us scratching our heads, we’ll embark on a whimsical journey to uncover which feathered friend takes the crown for being the most, well, lacking in the smarts department. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to meet some of nature’s more amusing characters as we dive into the intriguing world of the “not-so-genius” birds.

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What is the dumbest bird?

As an avid bird enthusiast, I often find myself pondering the question of which bird could be considered the “dumbest.” It’s important to note that when we talk about intelligence in birds, we are not comparing them to human standards. Birds have their own unique intelligence that manifests in various ways. In this article, I will explore different aspects of bird intelligence and present some examples of both highly intelligent and less intelligent bird species.

Defining intelligence in birds

Before we delve into the question of the dumbest bird, it’s important to define what we mean by “intelligence” in this context. In birds, intelligence can be measured in terms of their intellectual capabilities and problem-solving abilities.


Intellect refers to a bird’s ability to learn, understand, and reason. Birds with high intellect often exhibit complex behaviors and have advanced cognitive processes.

Problem-solving ability

Problem-solving ability relates to a bird’s aptitude for overcoming challenges and finding innovative solutions. Birds that can successfully navigate through puzzles or create tools to accomplish tasks display a high level of problem-solving intelligence.

Examples of bird intelligence

Now that we understand the criteria for measuring bird intelligence, let’s delve into some examples of highly intelligent bird species.

African Grey Parrot

The African Grey Parrot is renowned for its exceptional intellect. These birds have the ability to mimic human speech and communicate effectively with their human companions. They can learn a vast vocabulary of words and phrases and even comprehend their meaning.

New Caledonian Crow

The New Caledonian Crow is another remarkable example of bird intelligence. These birds are known for their impressive tool usage skills. They can fashion tools from leaves and twigs to extract food from crevices, showcasing their problem-solving abilities.


The Kea, a species of parrot native to New Zealand, has fascinated researchers with its intelligence. Keas have been observed solving complex puzzles to obtain rewards and demonstrating their social learning abilities. They can also use tools to accomplish tasks, such as pulling a string to retrieve food.

Criteria for determining intelligence

To evaluate bird intelligence, researchers often consider several key criteria. Let’s explore a few of them:

Social learning ability

Birds that exhibit social learning abilities can glean information from observing and mimicking the behaviors of others. This capacity to learn from fellow birds plays a crucial role in their survival and adaptability.

Tool usage

Tool usage is a significant indicator of intelligence in birds. Birds that can manipulate objects to create tools for specific tasks demonstrate advanced cognitive skills and problem-solving abilities.

Vocal learning

Vocal learning is the ability to imitate sounds and learn complex vocalizations. Birds that excel in vocal learning, such as parrots and songbirds, display higher levels of intelligence as they can communicate through intricate songs and mimic various sounds in their environment.

Birds with lesser intelligence

While some bird species showcase impressive intelligence, others may not be as cognitively advanced. It’s essential to note that these birds still possess unique adaptations and skills that aid their survival in specific environments.


Emus, although remarkable in their own right, do not exhibit the same problem-solving and intellectual abilities as some other bird species. They have a simpler cognition and rely more on instincts and basic behaviors.


The Kakapo, a flightless parrot native to New Zealand, is another example of a bird species with limited intelligence. These birds have a restricted problem-solving capacity, which is reflected in their behavior and adaptation strategies.

The case of the turkey

When discussing bird intelligence, the turkey often comes to mind. While turkeys may not be renowned for their intellect, they do possess some notable characteristics.

Limited problem-solving abilities

Turkeys typically rely on instinctive behaviors rather than complex problem-solving. They may struggle with novel situations and finding innovative solutions.

Social behavior

One area where turkeys excel is their social behavior. They live in hierarchical groups and display intricate social interactions, such as courtship displays and communal roosting.

The flightless kiwi

The kiwi, a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand, encounters distinct challenges due to its unique characteristics.

Poor eyesight

Kiwi birds have poor eyesight compared to many other bird species. They rely heavily on their acute sense of smell and touch to navigate their environment and locate food.

Nest vulnerabilities

Kiwi nests are vulnerable to predation due to their location on the ground. Although they may not possess advanced cognitive abilities, their survival strategies emphasize camouflage and nocturnal behavior to mitigate risk.

Are pigeons dumb?

Pigeons are often perceived as birds of lesser intelligence, but let’s explore the different aspects of their cognition.

Feral pigeon intelligence

Feral pigeons, also known as city pigeons, have adapted remarkably well to urban environments. Their ability to navigate complex city landscapes and find their way back to their nests demonstrates an impressive spatial intelligence.

Domestic pigeon intelligence

Domestic pigeons, often used in pigeon racing and homing, exhibit remarkable navigational abilities. They can travel long distances and locate their home loft, showcasing their aptitude for spatial learning and memory.

The chicken conundrum

Chickens have become synonymous with poultry farming, but how do they fare in terms of intelligence?

Lack of problem-solving abilities

Chickens are not known for their problem-solving skills or complex cognitive abilities. They rely more on instinctive behaviors and innate responses to their environment.

Limited cognition

Chickens have a relatively simple cognition compared to some other bird species. However, they display social behavior and hierarchy structures within their flocks.

Dumbest of them all?

While it’s difficult to definitively declare the “dumbest” bird, there are a couple of species that often come up in discussions.

Bald eagle

The bald eagle, despite being an iconic symbol of the United States, does not exhibit the same level of intelligence as some other birds. Their focus is primarily on hunting and survival skills rather than complex problem-solving.


The ostrich, with its large size and inability to fly, is often mentioned in discussions about bird intelligence. They have a simple cognition and rely on their incredible speed to evade predators.

In conclusion, determining the dumbest bird is subjective and challenging. While some bird species showcase remarkable intelligence in various aspects, others may have more limited cognitive abilities. Each bird possesses its own unique adaptations and survival strategies that aid them in their specific habitats. It’s crucial to appreciate and understand the intelligence and abilities that each bird brings to our diverse avian world.





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