Smart Birds? Proverbs 1:17

Proverbs 1:17 is an interesting case where there was some disagreement over it’s meaning.  Would a bird avoid getting caught in the trap and thus be a positive example, or would a bird obviously stumble into the net because it is, after all, a bird brain? 

So a little education in bird biology was needed.  From Sunday’s message….

The Father illustrated his warning with a proverb about a bird. Most commentators read it one way – that is if a bird sees you laying out a net, he will not get trapped by it. However, one commentator found that hard to believe, because he thinks all birds are basically dumb.

I went to the Biology Library at the University to see what I could discover about bird intelligence. It tunes out some birds are dumb. The Dodo bird had no fear of humans, and was soon hunted to extinction. However, I discovered some amazing indications that birds do have intelligence:

• The oldest human sport is probably Falconry, where these birds of pray are taught to hunt by their human trainers.

• Crows and parrots are as smart as dogs, and smarter than cats. There are crows in Japan who walk out into traffic during a red light, drop nuts in front of stopped cars, walk back and wait for the cars to crush the hard shells for them while they wait on the sidewalk.

• A Raven learned how to pull up a long string using its beak and foot in order to retrieve a piece of good tied to the end. Some crows use sticks to catch bugs in crevices. One bird even was able to bend a hook in a wire to make a tool to retrieve food.

• House sparrows have learned how to open grocery store doors by flying in front of the electric eye. Once inside they feast.


2 thoughts on “Smart Birds? Proverbs 1:17

  1. Great comments. Helpful too. It seems that all commentators point to one of two interpretations: 1) dumb birds (which I don’t think is plausible as you indicate here), or smart birds, which they conclude means that the son will definitely heed the instruction now that he knows. Just reading the text, before reading those takes, I had a different spin: smart birds… who have been unnoticed, flying above all the plans and schemes of the wicked, viewing all their plans, all their traps… just like God who sees all and will make sure they eat the fruit of their ways. The father’s appeal then becomes a parable in “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of your pursuit for knowledge”…realize one sees all. Then the next story is about how fools despise wisdom and discipline and will in the end hear their voice mocking them in their destruction.

  2. As somebody who has worked with both wild birds and pet birds, I have to say that, in my humble opinion, crows and parrots are smarter than dogs, too!

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