Pigeons: The Feathered Geniuses of the Sky

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The surprising intelligence of pigeons
Pigeons are smarter than some toddlers. They can recognize themselves in a mirror, tell different humans apart, and even learn the alphabet. Maybe they should start their own preschool.

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Did you know that pigeons are smarter than some toddlers? They can recognize themselves in a mirror, tell different humans apart, and even learn the alphabet. Maybe they should start their own preschool.

For those in a hurry

  • Pigeons are one of the few animals that can pass the mirror test, which means they have self-awareness.
  • Pigeons can distinguish between different paintings, artists, and art movements, such as Picasso and Monet.
  • They can detect cancer in radiology images, with accuracy comparable to human experts.
  • Pigeons can remember hundreds of images for years, and use landmarks to navigate long distances.
  • They can communicate with each other using sounds and body language, and form lifelong bonds with their mates.

How pigeons ace the mirror test

The mirror test is a way of measuring self-awareness in animals. It involves putting a mark on an animal’s body and seeing if they notice it in a mirror. Most animals fail this test, but pigeons are among the few that can pass it. This means they have a sense of self and can recognize their own reflection.

How pigeons appreciate art

Pigeons have amazing visual abilities. They can discriminate between different colors, shapes, and patterns. They can also learn to categorize complex man-made artworks, such as paintings by Picasso and Monet. They can even tell the difference between Cubism and Impressionism. That’s more than some humans can do!

How pigeons detect cancer

Pigeons can also use their visual skills to diagnose diseases. In one experiment, pigeons were trained to distinguish between benign and malignant breast tumors in medical images. They were able to do this with accuracy comparable to human experts. Of course, pigeons won’t replace doctors anytime soon, but they show how remarkable their eyesight is.

How pigeons remember and navigate

Pigeons have a great memory. They can remember hundreds of images for years, and use them as cues to find food or mates. They can also use landmarks to navigate long distances, even across continents. They have a magnetic sense that helps them orient themselves in relation to the Earth’s magnetic field. That’s why they are used as messenger birds or racing birds.

How pigeons communicate and bond

They are social animals. They live in flocks of up to several hundred individuals. They communicate with each other using sounds and body language. They have different calls for warning, greeting, or courting. They also use gestures such as bobbing their heads, flapping their wings, or puffing their chests.