PINC Profile: John Marzluff

Todays News


With the imminent arrival of PINC 2018 on December 6, once again promising a day full of passionate speakers covering a broad and varied range of topics, SRQ went behind the scenes with a few of these incoming artists, activists and entrepreneurs for a quick taste of what’s to come. A bird brain researcher with a focus on corvids (crows, ravens and jays), John Marzluff, Ph.D., has dedicated his studies to seeing how human activity and urban development has affected bird populations, as well as how bird have influenced art and language in humans.

SRQ: Why did you want to come to Sarasota and spend time with this audience in particular? Marzluff: It is not the typical audience for me. I’m used to speaking to birders and others interested in nature, so speaking to the PINC community allows me to get the message about the wonder of birds to a more diverse group

“Birdbrain” used to be a common insult—what do you make of that? Outdated? Most certainly outdated.  Birds have small brains, but these tiny computers can do just about anything our large brains can. They form complex, emotionally charged, spatially relevant memories. They focus the bird’s attention on things that matter. I’d be happy to be called a bird brain—a real compliment.

What crow fact would most astonish the average audience? The ability of some crow species to manufacture tools used to obtain food is a real shocker. But the more typical species also possess amazing skills that enable them to remember particular people for years and solve many complex problems in their environment.

Pictured: John Marzluff. Photo courtesy of PINC Sarasota.

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