|Portrait of a Pigeon by Sintwister|
I was not too surprised by this since pigeons, like the one in this photo by Sintwister, can do many amazing things. And one of the things that they are very good at is pattern recognition. They would be the perfect employees for jobs like airport x-ray scanner since they would go on looking for the outline of a gun or a knife long after their human counterparts became bored. In fact, a good setup would be a pigeon and a human. The human to look for novel evils, the pigeon to double check that normal evils don't make it though when the human is having a bad day. At one point there was even some thought that they might be good to have along on ocean rescue missions. Pigeons are very talented at spotting things from the air, even small things like a drowning human in a vast sea of whitecaps. Sadly though, many humans don't want to serve alongside pigeons so this plan was scrapped.
|Photo from kintired's flckr|
What? A good sense of smell? I had been under the impression that most birds have a poor to middling sense of smell, one that certainly wasn't good enough to fly by. So I did a little research.
Pigeons do navigate using landmarks that they spot from the air when they are familiar with an area. So the idea of homing pigeons looking down on the city from above is correct. But apparently they are also building up a 3D map in their brains before they ever leave their roosts for the first time. And they're doing it with smell.
|Print by InkMeUp|
All of which proves that pigeons are much better than me. I can barely tell my left from my right, much less retain any sort of map in my head. Bird brained indeed!