Fear not the pigeon brain

For poop-flingers, monkeys are pretty smart.

That’s the best sentence I’ve ever written.

I should just stop the post right here.

But there’s this:

Pigeons may not be so bird-brained after all, as scientists have found the birds’ ability to understand numbers is on par with that of primates.

When I read this sentence, I thought to myself, “Shit.”

Oh! Before I continue, would one of you in Lukey’s office show him that previous sentence and explain to him that THAT is the correct way to use “myself” in a sentence? KTHXBAI.

The reason I thought, “Shit,” is because if the pigeons can understand complex numbers and math and algebra and parallelograms and trapezoids … if the pigeons can solve for X, we are BEYOND screwed.There will be an uprising. They’ll reprogram Beelzebub 2.0 to include the ability to shit directly into our mouths (MERRY CHRISTMAS!). They’ll build pigeon robots capable of flying through brick walls.

Pigeons are bad enough vermin, controlled by Satan, the last thing we need is for them to be smart with numbers.

Then I read on:

Scarf and his colleagues first trained three pigeons to count up to three.

Once the birds learned to count to three, the researchers began showing the pigeons images with up to nine objects. On average, without higher-number training or food rewards, the pigeons were able to correctly order the image sets over 70 percent of the time.

And then I relaxed.

The pigeons can count to three! And 70% of them can count to nine! I don’t think they’ll be building a supercomputer with a “Smite PittGirl Hard” program anytime soon.

However, this does prove one thing:

For puke-eaters, pigeons are pretty smart.

(h/t Jason)



  1. Monty
    December 23, 2011 10:47 am

    Virginia — Technically, not only the undigested remnants of food from the pigeon’s bowel, but also liquid and solid urine from the kidney and a number of other normal discharges (including bile and mucus), all accumulate in the cloaca before it is expelled. The feces itself is usually solid and worm-like, but the texture can change as a result of the other matter. I like to think of it as an excrement cocktail.

    I just wanted to make sure you were aware it wasn’t just “shit.” Happy holidays to you and yours!

  2. bucdaddy
    December 23, 2011 10:52 am

    With any luck, they’ll consider starting a rebellion against their crow overlords and get annihilated.

    I watched a documentary about how smart crows are. It claimed crows are the smartest birds. They set up an experiment to see if crows could think lofically, and they do. Here’s how it worked:

    The researchers put a bit of food in a long narrow box, too narrow for the crow to reach. They already knew a crow is smart enough to look around for a tool — in this case, a long stick — that it can use to poke the food closer to its beak. They wanted to see if the crow could take the next step.

    So they put the long stick in another box where the crow couldn’t reach it, and they hung a short stick from a string on a perch.

    The crow considered this thoughtfully, then hopped up on the perch, reeled in the string, pulled the knotted string off the short stick, used the short stick to poke the long stick to where the crow could reach it, and then used the long stick to poke the food where the crow could reach it.

    This, the researchers said, demonstrated some small level of abstract thought: “If I do A, then I can do B, and if I can do B, I can do C.”

    They said the vast majority of animals (not just birds) wouldn’t be able to figure this out.

    So: I for one welcome our crow overlords.

    *cues up “The Birds” in the old VCR*

  3. bucdaddy
    December 23, 2011 10:53 am


    Having trouble thinking logically here, and yes, I HAVE had my coffee.

  4. Moxie Bestos
    December 23, 2011 11:47 am

    The misuse of the word “myself” extends to just about anyone and everyone who gives an interview on tv: political figures, sports figures, random interviewee. It makes me crazy. (They would say, “it makes myself crazy.”) For some reason, everyone is afraid of the word “me.” I’m also so hung up on that grammar abomination that I forgot that your post was about pigeons.

  5. Magus Patris
    December 23, 2011 12:43 pm

    Isn’t this how “Planet of the Apes” started? I personally welcome our pigeon overlords; in case the have internet connections and can read too.

  6. bluzdude
    December 23, 2011 1:20 pm

    That pigeon just told the monkey that his mommy is in a lab cage somewhere, right before he emptied his cloaca.

  7. Butcher's Dog
    December 23, 2011 2:10 pm

    Any one else thinking maybe Monty and bucdaddy have waaaay too much free time and not nearly enough to occupy their minds? Yeah, I thought that was probably the case.