Is There Something About Her Eyes? Significance of the Head Region on Preference Behaviors in Pigeons (Columba Livia)

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Laboratory studies have shown that pigeons can recognize conspecifics and select potential mates even when only visual information is available. Specifically, these studies indicate that information in the head and/or neck is important for conspecific recognition. However, it is still unclear whether specific features of the face (e.g., eyes, beak) are more important than others (e.g., shape of the head). In order to answer this question, the current study measured male pigeons’ preference for various photographs of female pigeons. Some of the photographic images were modified so that specific features were exaggerated or reduced (e.g., large or small eyes). In other photographs, configuration of features was altered (e.g., removal of high frequency information). The results will be discussed in relation to the perceptual and cognitive strategies that pigeons use for conspecific recognition.

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Proceedings of the International Conference on Comparative Cognition