Monday, 12 May 2014

New Scientist pigeons are smart

Bird brainiacs: The genius of pigeons

They can count, solve Aristotle's logic puzzles and appreciate Impressionist art. Don't underestimate the flying rat
FROM the piazzas of Venice to the sidewalks of New York City, the same refrain appears on signs the world over: "Do Not Feed the Pigeons!" "We just see them as a nuisance, flocking around McDonald's and pecking all the French fries," says Onur Güntürkün, who has studied pigeons for more than three decades.
It wasn't always this way. Not so long ago, we stuffed Columba livia specimens for display in military museums, honouring them for their brave flights transporting messages across enemy territory. Charles Darwin took up pigeon breeding to help him hone his theory of natural selection, and was dazzled by their charms. Before a visit from his friend the geologist Charles Lyell, Darwin wrote: "I will show you my pigeons! Which is the greatest treat, in my opinion, which