This may be the most disturbing news of the day. Pigeons have the ability to discriminate between friendly and hostile people! This means that that pigeon you kicked, once, totally on accident — the damn bird was right in your way, and you can’t be looking down all the time, plus you were in a hurry — has never forgotten the experience and is likely plotting your Birds-esque demise with all of his pigeon friends. This factoid was uncovered via an actual scientific study, reports Gothamist, that involved two pigeon feeders, one mean, one nice, wearing different colored coats. The pigeon remembered which was which!
The pigeons avoided the hostile feeder even when the two feeders exchanged their coats, suggesting that they used stable individual characteristics to differentiate between the experimenter feeders. Thus, pigeons are able to learn quickly from their interactions with human feeders and use this knowledge to maximize the profitability of the urban environment. This study provides the first experimental evidence in feral pigeons for this level of human discrimination.
A/K/A, that pigeon has its eye on you. Also, this would be a fascinatingly creepy movie about identical twins.
Terrifying Research: Pigeons Never Forget A Face [Gothamist]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 5, 2011