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Bird brains

Identifier: Film Collection no. 87

Scope and Contents

Robert Cushman Murphy, AMNH ornithologist, is a guest on this program. The topic under discussion is the intelligence of birds and their relative lack of intelligence in relation to other creatures. Demonstrations in the studio include live specimens and models, with a presentation of performing African lovebirds. Murphy argues that, despite claims that species such as talking parrots, parakeets, and mynas are intelligent, most birds rank low in intelligence, usually just above reptiles. Birds, however, are physically more efficient than other animals. A film made in Spain demonstrates how falcons may be caught and trained. A Hungarian film of marsh wildlife, which was shown in a previous broadcast (May 2, 1954), illustrates that instinctive behavior (e.g. nest building, fishing) enables birds to get along without much intelligence. Excerpts from Konrad Lorenz's imprinting film are also shown.


  • 1954


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through inter-library loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (30 minutes) : sound, black and white ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (30 minutes)) : sound, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16mm kinescope.


Originally aired Dec. 12, 1954 as part of the CBS/AMNH Adventure television series.



Lou Chiafi, host; Mel Ferber, director; Perry Wolff, producer; Robert Northshield and Jac Venza, assistant producers; Shelby Gordon, writer; Joan Woodward, associate director; Grover Cole, production design; Jerome Bender, supervisor of film; Al Mifelow, program assistant; Perry Miller, film research; Dee Chandler, program coordinator.

Bird brains, 1954
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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New York NY 10024 USA
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