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Learn Behav. 2006 Nov;34(4):327-39.

Domestic pigeons (Columba livia) discriminate between photographs of male and female pigeons.

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  • 1University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


We investigated whether pigeons are able to discriminate color photographs of male and female pigeons, using a categorical discrimination procedure. In Experiments 1 and 2B, 10 out of 14 pigeons learned the discrimination. Of these, 5 pigeons showed transfer to novel stimuli, demonstrating the categorical nature of the trained discrimination. Experiment 3 showed that the discriminative behavior was based primarily on the body, as opposed to the head and the neck region. In 1 out of 3 pigeons, the discriminative behavior was maintained by the black-and-white photographs. The results suggest that some pigeons have the ability to discriminate the sex of conspecifics without behavioral cues.

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