Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Toru Shimizu, Ph.D.


Bird, Face Recognition, Conspecific Recognition, Vision, Mate Selection, Face recognition, Conspecific recognition, Vision, Mate selection


Previous research has shown that male pigeons (Columba livia) respond with courtship displays to video playbacks of a female pigeon indicating that they 'recognize' the female as a potential mate. Courtship displays significantly decline when the head region of the female is occluded (Shimizu, 1998) suggesting that features located within the head are important for species recognition and mate selection. However, little is known about the exact visual features necessary to elicit displays. The current study examined the preference behavior of male pigeons when given a choice between photographic images of normal looking or altered female pigeon faces. The altered-face categories included: 1) enlarged or removed facial features such as the eyes or beak; 2) the eyes and beak reconfigured within the head; and 3) removed contour (outline). The results showed that subjects responded preferentially toward females with enlarged features (eyes or beak). However, subjects responded preferentially toward normal females when the alternative stimuli were faces that were missing the eyes and/or beak. Preference for normal females was also observed when females with "incorrect" configuration were shown. Finally, subjects responded significantly less to females lacking contour, even when the eyes and beak were visible. The overall findings suggest local facial components are important, although this effect diminishes if the contour of the female is not visible. These findings also suggest that pigeons attend to both local components and global configuration when they detect conspecifics and identify potential mates.