Have we met before? Pigeons recognise familiar human faces
Abstract:Despite growing evidence for the recognition of conspecifics, studies on heterospecific recognition are still scarce. There is some evidence that birds living in urban habitats are able to distinguish between specific humans, depending on their previous experience with them. Nonetheless, the features by which the birds actually discriminated among humans remain unclear. This study investigated whether pigeons are capable of performing such a sophisticated categorisation and the features relevant to making this discrimination. The results revealed that pigeons are able to discriminate reliably between familiar and unfamiliar humans and provide evidence that facial features are important for this recognition. Furthermore, our results suggest that the ability to discriminate between individual heterospecifics is not restricted to bird species that are considered highly cognitive.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2012-06-01
Avian Biology Research provides a forum for the publication of research in every field of ornithology. It covers all aspects of pure and applied ornithology for wild or captive species as well as research that does not readily fit within the publication objectives of other ornithological journals. By considering a wide range of research fields for publication, Avian Biology Research provides a forum for people working in every field of ornithology. The journal also includes sections on avian news, conference diary and book reviews.
Cover image: A male Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) with a bush cricket as prey, returning to the nest to feed its young. Photo by Anastasios Bounas
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