While reading in this article that starlings may be capable of discerning grammatical patterns, I recalled the FOXP2 gene. The gene seems to be involved in the development of areas of the brain involved in speech in humans. Variants of FOXP2 were found in a family whose members shared a rare speech disorder. In gene comparisons with other species, the highest degree of similarity to humans was found in song-learning birds.

Tom Firak
Des Plaines, Ill.