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Intelligent pigeon learns to use a squirrel feeder (video)

Pigeons are smart. Yes, they are maligned and shot at and generally despised but they are still smart. Generally, people are ignorant about their intelligence. Perhaps people tend to hate pigeons because they use their smarts to survive and this irritates humans. They are one of the very few animals that are self-aware (with help) according to Wikipedia. That puts them nearly in the same category as dolphins and birds in the corvid family e.g., jackdaws, magpies and ravens.

It does not surprise me that they can learn to use a squirrel feeder which is not that straightforward. It is a container with a lid. The squirrel has to push their head under the lid to push it up to reveal the squirrel food in the container. Squirrel food includes grains i.e. bird food.

 
Only one pigeon has learned to use the feeder out of a quite a large number who hang around the feeder waiting for the squirrel to chuck some food on the ground as they do because they dive in to find the raw peanuts in their shell. In order to find the peanuts – their favorite – they chuck the less appetising food out of the container.

This pigeon watched what was going on and figured it would be so much easier and he’d get so much more if he/she opened the box like a squirrel.

It took a while, about 6 months! But they did it. The other birds feeding are corvids such as jackdaws and they have not learned to use the squirrel feeder.

My guess is that some pigeons are smarter than others as is the case with humans and this fella is a pigeon Einstein. I captured the video on my Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone which has a zoom control. That’s why the image is a bit soft but it is captured.

Wikipedia also tells me that pigeons have been in numerous experiments in comparative psychology and experiments concerned with animal cognition and so the experts know quite a lot about pigeon intelligence. For example, pigeons:

  • Can share attention between different dimensions of a stimulus;
  • Can be taught relatively complex actions and response sequences and they can learn to make responses in different sequences;
  • Can discriminate between other individual pigeons and they can use the behaviour of another individual pigeon as a cue to tell them what response to make;
  • Remember large numbers of individual images for a long time. Remarkably they can remember hundreds of images for periods of several years;
  • And they showed “mirror-related behaviours during the mirror test”. This is a test for self-awareness and tells us that when they look in a mirror, they see themselves whereas cats and dogs for example do not see themselves in a mirror. They see another creature or are confused

I am impressed with this pigeon.

Below are some more pages on pigeons.

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