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Pigeons accumulate General knowledge

Looking for a more comfortable way home, the pigeons use “achievements” of more experienced colleagues.

The pigeons we are accustomed to thinking not too smart bird, but it appears to be nothing more than superstition. One of the most striking evidence that pigeons are not as stupid as it may seem, can be read in published a few years ago an article in Science: it’s said that pigeons are capable of abstract arithmetic, that is, they can count objects, not paying attention to their shape, color and size.


The collective intelligence of the pigeons, perhaps, is more complex than expected. (Photo: TheLightPainter / Depositphotos .)

In addition, pigeons have a rather complicated social life: hierarchy in flight does not coincide with the hierarchy to which they are subject on earth, that is, in other words, on the ground and in the air in pigeons of different leaders; the leader is such only in virtue of their competence, and, for example, if the leader of the doves in flocks, chooses the wrong direction of flight, the flock stops to listen to him.

Finally, one can not forget about their amazing ability to navigate in space: if the pigeons need a few times to fly from point a to point B, they will try to make the route more comfortable, and those who still did not come up with a better way, will he learn from the more advanced comrades. It is also known that pigeon flock flies a more direct route than single birds – obviously, then triggered a sort of “collective intelligence”.

And that’s not all. In a new article in Nature Communications , zoologists from Oxford, Tsao Sasaki (Sasaki Takao) and Dora Biro (Biro Dora) write that pigeons are able to accumulate cultural experience. Dora Biro and her colleagues have been studying the behavior of pigeons (pigeon about changing leaders, which was discussed above, found out what they are). This time, the researchers attached to the birds ‘ GPS trackers, divided them into three groups: the pigeons from the first group always came home by themselves from the second – along with constant companion, and the third pigeon changed partner every few flights, so novice was paired with a more experienced traveler.

Birds released in unfamiliar territory, so they flew home not the most direct route. Few flights all pigeons have found a more convenient route, however, the greatest success achieved by the group in which a more experienced pigeon was regularly replaced with new. It turned out that the bird that has already started to look for the shortest way home, passed the knowledge on to the new partner, and that this knowledge is somehow corrected. Then the former recruit is given in a couple of even more brand new, which, in turn, also adopted a strange experience, adding to it their own “achievements.” In the end, the route home was more and more comfortable.

Once again we are not talking about a simple transfer of experience, namely the accumulation, the accumulation of knowledge: it looked as if the bird was not looking his way from scratch, and corrected what he had learned from his partner. However, some experts believe that it is not necessary in this case to talk about the cultural accumulation, and that, most likely, the pigeons not so much complement each other, the accumulated experience of how much they worked together on a new version of the route – and with a few “colleagues” was more efficient than with the same partner.

But, anyway, we can not but admire such plasticity of behavior and “open-mindedness” in birds, whose intelligence and ingenuity to the same few people take seriously.

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