‘Intelligent’ London pigeons learn to use the tube and ‘commute’ with humans

They may have small brains, but birds are clearly among the most intelligent animals, pulling hundreds of miles each year and even using twigs as simple tools.

But commuters on the London Underground have noticed that the capital’s pigeons have started using technology created by humans to make their small migrations a little easier.

And the cunning birds seem to have done so for a while and apparently passed on knowledge to new pigeon generations, making it the dangerously ancient part of their culture, MyLondon reports.

In 1995, New Scientist magazine received what was described as “a barrage of correspondence” about pigeons traveling on the subway.

The birds do not seem to pay for tickets

That would be to say that they just wandered on in search of food, and that is certainly the conclusion of the BBC Two show, The Unnatural History of London.

In this clip, the presenter says that “pigeons visit the station because there are lots of crumbs around”, and suggests that they travel to the next one by train to continue feeding.

Many others have drawn similar conclusions.

But in her letter to New Scientist, Lorna Read said: “I feel quite confident that travel, not food, was their purpose.

The pigeons seem to get on and off at certain stations
The pigeons seem to get on and off at certain stations

“Pigeons are intelligent and easy to train, and I see no reason why they should not have gotten used to the fact that traveling by Tube saves their wings – especially since there are so many deformed and crippled pigeons in the city. “

Another letter wondered if it was possible that the pigeons, with their exceptional navigational abilities, actually knew where they were going.

Sabiha Foster also shared a story that suggests they do it often enough to know the route: “About a year ago, a couple of pigeons jumped on the Circle Line at Aldgate, stayed at the door and rose with determination at the next stop. , which was Tower Hill.

“How did they know the platform for Tower Hill was on the same side of the wagon as the one for Aldgate?”

Unfortunately, they sometimes leave small deposits on the seats
Unfortunately, they sometimes leave small deposits on the seats

And while 1995 is the time when Londoners seemed to notice the phenomenon, some travelers noticed even earlier pigeon commuters.

Jim Brock’s letter recalled: “During 1974-76, I regularly encountered a single pigeon with a light reddish color that boarded the subway at Paddington and disembarked at the next station …

“Has the habit been passed on to the next generation? … Is there a genetic component to this?”

Have you seen a pigeon commute on a train or bus in your area? Tell us in the comments below!


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