Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pigeons never forget a face

Date:
July 5, 2011
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology
Summary:
New research has shown that feral, untrained pigeons can recognize individual people and are not fooled by a change of clothes. Researchers have shown that pigeons in Paris city center, that have never been caught or handled, can recognize individuals, probably by using facial characteristics.

Untrained feral pigeons have special skills enabling them to recognize individuals, and are not fooled by people changing clothes.
Credit: Ahmed Belguermi

New research has shown that feral, untrained pigeons can recognise individual people and are not fooled by a change of clothes.

Researchers, who presented their work at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow on the 3rd of July, have shown that urban pigeons that have never been caught or handled can recognise individuals, probably by using facial characteristics.

Although pigeons have shown remarkable feats of perception when given training in the lab this is the first research showing similar abilities in untrained feral pigeons.

In a park in Paris city centre, pigeons were fed by two researchers, of similar build and skin colour, wearing different coloured lab coats. One individual simply ignored the pigeons, allowing them to feed while the other was hostile, and chased them away. This was followed by a second session when neither chased away the pigeons.

The experiment, which was repeated several times, showed that pigeons were able to recognise the individuals and continued to avoid the researcher who had chased them away even when they no longer did so. Swapping lab coats during the experiments did not confuse the pigeons and they continued shun the researcher who had been initially hostile.

"It is very likely that the pigeons recognised the researchers by their faces, since the individuals were both female and of a similar age, build and skin colour," says Dr. Dalila Bovet a co-author of this work from the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Dιfense. "Interestingly, the pigeons, without training, spontaneously used the most relevant characteristics of the individuals (probably facial traits), instead of the lab coats that covered 90% of the body."

The fact that the pigeons appeared to know that clothing colour was not a good way of telling humans apart suggests that the birds have developed abilities to discriminate between humans in particular. This specialised ability may have come about over the long period of association with humans, from early domestication to many years of living in cities.

Future work will focus on identifying whether pigeons learn that humans often change clothes and so use more stable characteristics for recognition, or if there is a genetic basis for this ability, linked to domestication or to having evolved in an urban environment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Experimental Biology. "Pigeons never forget a face." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110703132527.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology. (2011, July 5). Pigeons never forget a face. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110703132527.htm
Society for Experimental Biology. "Pigeons never forget a face." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110703132527.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins