By Harvey Tobkes

If I did not see it with my own eyes and if someone told me this story, I either would not believe it or doubt it strongly.

As most viewers know, I walk daily at Hollywood Beach alongside the ocean. There are many, restaurants and most have tables outside so patrons can dine and enjoy the ocean view to the fullest. Only a few are upscale, and they have linen tablecloths and the usual condiments in Lucite holders, small packets of salt (white packet), pepper (gray packet), sugar (blue packet), and artificial sweetener (pink packet).

O.K. I think you have the picture.

CanariesToday as I was passing Las Brisas (an upscale) restaurant, I noticed a bird walking on a table top; nice and casual, not wary or frightened at all. She strutted to the Lucite holder, and carefully selected a pink packet. She plucked out a Sweet and Low, secured it in her beak, and flew off with her prize, and settled down about 15 feet away. Then she pecked the paper packet to get at the sweetener and devoured it like a child going at a candy bar.

My questions for any ornithologists reading this:

1. How did she know she was taking the artificial sweetener and not the salt or the pepper?
2. Was she able to distinguish color? Did that enable her to select a pink packet?
3. Do humans underestimate the intelligence of birds?

Questions for all the others reading this:
1. Was the bird on a diet or possibly diabetic?
2. What species? I think she may have been a Yellow-Breasted Weight-Watcher.

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