Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Birds can recognize people's faces and know their voices

Date:
June 22, 2012
Source:
University of Lincoln
Summary:
New research suggests that some birds may know who their human friends are, as they are able to recognize people’s faces and differentiate between human voices.

New research suggests that some birds may know who their human friends are, as they are able to recognize people's faces and differentiate between human voices.
Credit: yellowj / Fotolia

New research suggests that some birds may know who their human friends are, as they are able to recognize people's faces and differentiate between human voices.

Related Articles


Being able to identify a friend or potential foe could be key to the bird's ability to survive.

Animal behaviour experts from the University of Lincoln in the UK and the University of Vienna worked with pigeons and crows in two separate studies.

Research published in Avian Biology Research shows that pigeons can reliably discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar humans, and that they use facial features to tell people apart.

The team trained a group of pigeons to recognise the difference between photographs of familiar and unfamiliar objects. These pigeons, along with a control group, were then shown photographs of pairs of human faces. One face was of a person familiar to the birds whilst the other was of someone they had not seen before.

The experimental group birds were able to recognise and classify the familiar people using only their faces, whereas the birds without prior training failed. The results show that pigeons can discriminate between the familiar and unfamiliar people and can do this on solely using facial characteristics.

Lincoln's lead researcher on the project, Dr Anna Wilkinson, from the School of Life Sciences, said: "Such advanced cognitive processes have rarely been observed in pigeons and suggest that they not only recognise individual humans but also know who they know -- something which could be very important for survival. Some humans feed pigeons, others chase them. To know individuals and act appropriately to them is enormously advantageous."

In a separate study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, the team investigated the ability of carrion crows to differentiate between the voices and calls of familiar and unfamiliar humans and jackdaws, or 'heterospecific individuals' ie. those outside of their own species. Previous research has focused on crows' ability to recognise and communicate with their own species.

The crows responded significantly more often to unfamiliar than familiar human voices and, conversely, responded more to familiar than unfamiliar jackdaw calls. According to the research team, the results provide the first evidence that birds can discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar heterospecific individuals using auditory stimuli.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Lincoln. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Claudia Stephan, Anna Wilkinson, Ludwig Huber. Have we met before? Pigeons recognise familiar human faces. Avian Biology Research, 2012; 5 (2): 75 DOI: 10.3184/175815512X13350970204867
  2. Claudia A. F. Wascher, Georgine Szipl, Markus Boeckle, Anna Wilkinson. You sound familiar: carrion crows can differentiate between the calls of known and unknown heterospecifics. Animal Cognition, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s10071-012-0508-8

Cite This Page:

University of Lincoln. "Birds can recognize people's faces and know their voices." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120622163056.htm>.
University of Lincoln. (2012, June 22). Birds can recognize people's faces and know their voices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120622163056.htm
University of Lincoln. "Birds can recognize people's faces and know their voices." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120622163056.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
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