Why pigeons are actually pretty smart


Is there a bird more universally despised than the pigeon? If so, we’d like to meet them! These so-called ‘rat doves’ are often seen as the vermin of the bird kingdom and can be a menace to all of us. Have you ever been overcome with the desire to shoo a pigeon as soon as look it? Well, you aren’t alone, as these brainless birds are pretty much hated across the world.

But, do we give pigeons a bad rap? Studies would suggest that we do and that we should actually be more accommodating of these creatures. If we go by what recent studies have shown, pigeons are actually rather brilliant and share an intelligence we would usually think are reserved for creatures like dolphins. So, let’s examine a little bit more about pigeons and what they can do in terms of intelligence.

What can they do?

It’s actually pretty amazing the number of things pigeons can do. They have a great deal of intelligence in many areas, some of which we would never have considered. For example, did you know that pigeons are able to differentiate English as a vocabulary from gibberish?! This is a pretty amazing skill that almost no animals possess and really goes a long way toward illustrating the depth of intelligence pigeons possess. They can also recognize all 26 letters in the English language, as well as being able to detect things like cancer!

They understand space and time

Believe it or not, pigeons can actually understand abstract concepts like space and time. This is pretty amazing because you would think that would be beyond them, but no. They understand these things, their brains just work in a slightly different way. For instance, the University of Iowa carried out numerous tests to explore this. They showed pigeons a computer screen with a line across it. The birds had to evaluate the length of the lines, and how long they saw them for. Researchers found that pigeons perceived longer lines to have a longer duration. In this way, they achieve the cognitive feat of understanding concepts like space and time.

Maybe we should give them more respect

Pigeons are pretty incredible birds by the sounds of things. These two factors alone are a staggering feat, but, throw into that the fact that they can also recognize their own reflections in the mirror – the only non-mammal that can do this – and you get a bird that should be shown more respect. Pigeons seem to be given a bad reputation because they are common and seen as a bit of a pest. But, it’s pretty remarkable what they can do, and the depths of their intelligence. Who knows how many more incredible feats pigeons would be able to achieve were they given a little more respect.

Well, are you as stunned as we are?! We knew that certain animals were smart, but we had no idea that pigeons were this smart! Some of the things they are capable of we would never have assumed even much smarter creatures would be able to do. It just goes to show that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. If everyone knew that pigeons were this smart perhaps they would look upon them more favorably.