Warning pigeons could finger you in an identity parade

So don’t terrorize the one’s in your neighbourhood.

pigeons never forget a faceMy Mom loves to feed the neighbourhood birds. Every morning, while still dressed in her pyjamas, she strides outside to feed the avian family. The bird feeding frenzy definitely draws a clear distinction between the “brainless” pigeons and everyone else.

Pigeons appear intellectually challenged

The little brown jobs focus their attention on eating and not getting eaten. Human activity or an unexplained rustle, will see them take flight for the surrounding trees until the disruption passes.

The pigeons on the other hand, seem to spend at least 50 % of their time head butting other pigeons, instead of gobbling the limited supply of food. They will defiantly stand their ground, when human activity interrupts breakfast.

Pigeons the victims of cats and dog

When bird bodies are located in the garden, fortunately not too often, but nevertheless, more often than my Mom would prefer – the victims are always pigeons.

The little body is either decapitated, due to the nightly hunting sessions of a rogue cat or punctured by the overexuberant, somewhat psychotic, dalmation exercising her hunting extinct.

Pigeons not the brightest cookies in the box

Yes, pigeons seem to be truly “bird brained”.

But, research from a park in Paris, suggests it is not a problem with making brain connections per se, but more a problem of not connecting the gravity of the situation, because of face familiarity.

Urban pigeons, the guys living among us, know who we are.

The pigeons are watching you

The prayers of a bunch of pigeons living in the Parisian park were answered, they became the participants in a feeding scheme-cum-experiment.

The feeding scheme involved two humans providing regular edible treats.

The experiment involved monitoring the pigeon’s response to the feeders. Physically the feeders were pretty similar, both were female, around the same age, same skin colour etc. the big difference between them, was the colour lab coat they were wearing and their behaviour.

Researcher number one, simply dropped the munchies off and left the pigeons to feed. Researcher number two, dropped off the food, but proceeded to made it quite clear that it was not intended for their benefit, by yelling and chasing them away.

The next day, the pigeons were fed again, but this time there was no jumping up and down or yelling by the second researcher.

Pigeons didn’t forget

The pigeons didn’t forget which human was a psychotic weirdo to be avoided at all costs, even when they switched lab coats. Researcher number 1 was okay, researcher number 2 was objectionable.

The pigeon’s reactions suggested they weren’t using the colour of the lab coat as a clue, they were sizing up their faces. And they remembered the face.

So are pigeons actually smart birds ?

The pigeons in the park in Paris are smart enough to know that humans wear different clothes every day and clothes are not a good way to tell humans apart.

So it is possible, that our backyard pigeons are in fact brighter than the LBJs. They don’t waste energy having a panic attack every time the humans that feed them move about.

Yes, they fall victim occasionally to the cat and dog, the problem is these characters are moving so fast, the poor birds don’t even see the face that finishes them off.

Of course, this doesn’t explain why they are the only birds that attempt to raise a family when the temperature drops below freezing. Pigeons definitely believe in making nookie in winter.

Pigeons never forget a face – press release from Society of Experimental Biology published on AAAS

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Further reading

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Street lights drive the birds crazy  Almonds are like dog biscuits Scent Of Fear boosts Performance 

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