These Are The 6 Dumbest Birds Still Living In Canada Today

Killdeer flying
© JoshCW Photo/Shutterstock.com

Written by Chanel Coetzee

Updated: August 15, 2023

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You probably know fun facts about some of the smartest birds on the planet. But why do some birds seem to lack intelligence? What qualifies as a dumb bird? In some cases, their choices are questionable. For example, some species never learn from their mistakes. Sometimes, it’s biology and not their fault. There are certain circumstances when humans are to blame for a bird’s lack of survival skills in emergencies. Nonetheless, some birds are just plain stupid. From birds laying their eggs in dangerous places or flying in front of moving objects, these are the 6 dumbest birds still living in Canada today.

1. Killdeer

The killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) are large plover birds that occur in North America and along the coast of northern South America. While they are considered one of the dumbest birds in Canada, are they really that stupid? Killdeers make for easy prey. For example, they build nests on the ground, making their eggs easily accessible to an array of predators, like raccoons, snakes, domestic dogs, foxes, cats, opossums, birds of prey, and coyotes. And they usually don’t flee when attacked; they stay put, puffing themselves up and bobbing up and down.

However, these birds are not that unintelligent, because they do protect their hatchlings by charging towards predators, shrieking. In addition, they may pretend to have a broken wing, luring the predator away from their hatchlings. Once the predator is distracted, they fly back to the nest to protect their offspring.

killdeer standing on the beach

Killdeers make for easy prey. For example, they build nests on the ground, making their eggs easily accessible to an array of predators.

©iStock.com/passion4nature

2. Red-necked Phalarope

While red-necked phalaropes primarily occur in the UK, they are migratory birds and inhabit certain areas of Canada. While migrating requires some intelligence, these birds have a high mortality rate during travel. Unfortunately, they have a brutal migratory route. In fact, this route is notorious and often called the second-longest migratory route on the planet.

Many red-necked phalaropes spend their winters in the Arabian Sea after migrating from Russia, Scandinavia, and the Middle East. However, other populations travel from the northeastern Atlantic to the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, crossing over the Atlantic Ocean during this route. The entire trip is an estimated 6,213 miles.

Unlike other birds, who work smarter, not harder, the red-necked phalarope’s sense of adventure is misguided and leads to a lot of death. Furthermore, these birds are known for spinning rapidly on the water to coax up invertebrates, which could lead to drowning. Their actions leading to unnecessary death are why many people consider red-necked phalaropes dumb birds.

Identifying red-necked phalaropes is relatively easy. The females are brighter than the males, and they choose their mates. In addition, males are the ones who incubate the eggs and raise the offspring.

Red-necked phalarope, northern phalarope, hyperborean phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus, swimming in calm water with vegetation in background. Photo from Vadso at Varanger Penisula in Norway.

While red-necked phalaropes primarily occur in the UK, but they are migratory birds and inhabit certain areas of Canada.


Image: Piotr Poznan, Shutterstock

©Piotr Poznan/Shutterstock.com

3. Cardinal

Redbirds, or Cardinals, are one of the dumbest birds in Canada primarily because they fly into glass windows without realizing it might hurt them. Therefore, they continue to do it over and over again. Additionally, many people report that Cardinals attack their own reflections in glass, and they won’t stop until someone blocks the reflection. Therefore they are less intelligent because they don’t learn from their mistakes. Furthermore, they become extremely territorial during mating season. As a result, they end up fighting every bird that could potentially be competition for them, and this includes their reflections. However, this aggressive behavior is more prominent in males than females.

Male Northern Cardinal (cardinalis cardinalis) on a Spruce branch covered with snow

Redbirds, or Cardinals, are some of the dumbest birds in Canada primarily because they fly into glass windows without realizing it might hurt them.

©Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com

4. Northern Fulmar

The northern fulmar is one of the dumbest birds in Canada because they make questionable parenting choices. For example, females only return to land once to lay their eggs and only lay one egg at a time. However, this is not the most worrying fact about these birds. They also build their nests on high, rocky ledges, which branch dangerously over the ocean. So, it seems they aren’t particularly worried about their egg’s safety. While the position of their nest keeps the predators at bay, there is still a huge risk of the egg falling into the rough ocean.

Dumbest Animals in the World: Northern Fulmar

The northern fulmar is one of the dumbest birds in Canada because they make questionable parenting choices. For example, females only return to land once to lay their eggs and only lay one egg at a time.

©MichaelY/Shutterstock.com

5. Canadian Goose

Many people think that the Canadian Goose is dumb. However, wildlife experts wouldn’t agree. Canadian Geese are given such a bad reputation because of where they lay their eggs. In Canada, it is quite common for these geese to lay their eggs on roofs. Experts say this is to keep the eggs out of harm’s way, but what is more harmful to an egg than falling from a roof? And how do the chicks get down once they have hatched? Well, the offspring actually jump off the roof. In fact, many people witnessed a Canadian goose chick jump from an 18-story building, and it did not die. Death is unlikely because their body mass is so light; it makes them bounce on impact. Many of the Canadian Goose chicks that fall from roofs survive without injury, but some do sustain injuries leading to death.

Animal, Animal Body Part, Animal Eye, Animal Wing, Beak

Many people witnessed a Canadian goose chick jump from an 18-story building, and it did not die. Death is unlikely because their body mass is so light; it makes them bounce on impact.

©iStock.com/Wirestock

6. The Ring-Necked Pheasant

Ring-necked pheasants are dumb, but this is justified as they are raised and fed artificially so they can be released into the wilderness for people to hunt. When raised this way, they have no fear of humans, and if they aren’t killed during hunting season, they often fly into moving vehicles. Therefore being raised in a controlled environment has left with without the essential survival skills they need to make it in the wild. Many people hate these birds because they fly in front of their cars for no reason and can cause quite a bit of damage. Sadly, it is not their fault. Humans are to blame for this dumb Canadian bird. While the ring-necked pheasant is not native to Canada, they have a thriving population in the North American country.

Ringneck Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Ring-necked pheasants are dumb, but this is justified as they are raised and fed artificially so they can be released into the wilderness for people to hunt.


Image: Piotr Krzeslak, Shutterstock

©Piotr Krzeslak/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

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