STATES CHRONICLE – You may think pigeons are not that bright, but a recent study proves the opposite. These birds are not just smart, but it turns out they can even perceive complex concepts usually grasped only by humans, such as space and time. Also, they can the difference between a long and a short object.
Pigeons can perceive complex concepts like space and time
A team of researchers from the University of Iowa decided to test the abilities of pigeons by showing them objects of different sizes for different amounts of time. They displayed both long and short lines on screens, which disappeared after different time intervals. Afterwards, they looked at how the birds perceived these differences.
The pigeons had to peck either the short or the long object and, if they chose the right one, they received a food reward. Then, the tests got harder, as they displayed more complex lengths for various periods of time. Sometimes, they had to consider both concepts, and choose an object judging both from its length and from the amount of time it remained on the screen.
Many studies document the impressive cognitive skills of pigeons
This made things quite complex, as the pigeons had to keep in mind both characteristics. They didn’t know which one of them might turn out useful, so they had to remember everything. In the end, the results were impressive, showing the birds had a level of cognition similar to that of primates.
This is not the first time when researchers test the intelligence of pigeons. They were found to be more flexible than humans at switching between tasks, could recognize faces without difficulty, and even tell the differences in style between various paintings. This is extremely interesting, given the fact that birds do not have a parietal cortex, the area of the brain which controls abstract concepts.