Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Most Divisive Animal

Name anything in the world, and you can find people that like it, and people that don't, but passions generally wouldn't run high. Not so with pigeons, however. For every person that is devoted to them, there seems to one who hates them with a passion, and such people seem to feel perfectly righteous in their hatred.

Probably the reason for such strong reactions is that pigeons are so very intelligent. And their intelligence allows them to adapt well to life in close proximity to humans.

Scientists are discovering just how intelligent pigeons are. Thanks to miniature GPS equipment, they can track the actions of a homing pigeon. The ability of a pigeon to find its way home has long been attributed to that magical catch-all, "instinct". But it has been observed that pigeons "scope out" the area in which they are released, so as to get their bearings and form a mental map. They find their way home by navigating according to landmarks, and if they are sent between the same two points repeatedly, they refine their route into the most efficient path home.

This explanation of pigeons mapping out their route is supported by tests that show that pigeons have a very good and long visual memory. Other senses are surely involved as well, but those are more difficult to measure. But it is obvious that real intelligence is involved, not some mythical "instinct".

Pigeons also have demonstrated real problem solving ability:

What I don't understand is the blind hatred of them. There's even a Facebook page for people who actively hate pigeons. It makes no sense.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Merry Christmas to All

I hope you had as much fun this holiday season as these guys did:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Lioness and Her Cubs, and Their Friend

Time for another look in at Kevin Richardson, this time with some really tiny lion cubs:

This video is a joy from beginning to end. Not only are the cubs adorable:

but you can see how touchy-feely lions are. They love physical contact.

For the benefit of the cubs, mama comes with a toy: the tuft on the end of her tail:

And there's more scenes of happy quiet times together:

Happy is the lion family that snoozes together: