geometry-conscious pigeons

November 27, 2006 at 1:16 am | | cool results, science@home

What is going on here? I woke up the last two mornings to look out the window only to see pigeons in queues in the field across the street:


This is strange. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed that they were eating along an old faded white line on the soccer field. I tried finding some mention of this phenomenon in The Google, but to no avail. The closest we found were blue jays eating house paint (here and here) and sparrows eating grit. Maybe this is the same thing: pigeons eating field chalk for grit or minerals. But they were only on one older faded line. Maybe the new lines are a different paint (to avoid this problem). Or maybe the field paint made some yummy type of grass grow there. Still unclear to me. Anyone else know what’s going on here?


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. Sam, send it to those BMI-fat guys, pigeons fit a line better than them!

    Comment by nick — November 27, 2006 #

  2. nick, that is a hilarious idea! wait, does this mean pigeons are smarter than fat people?

    Comment by sam — November 27, 2006 #

  3. those pigeons just have style. they dont need a reason.

    Comment by william — November 27, 2006 #

  4. Is it a recently evolved species william? columba precipuus: ~stylish pigeon

    Comment by nick — November 27, 2006 #

  5. Through bizarre coincidence, a pigeon expert was interviewed today on NPR. His name is Andrew D. Blechman, and he is the author of “Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird.” I just emailed him about this odd pigeon phenomenon. I’ll let you know what he says.

    Comment by jordan — November 28, 2006 #

  6. Andrew Blechman, polite and prompt as can be, has written me back. I believe even he is confounded by the pigeons. Here’s what he said:

    “Pigeons are creatures of habit. They won’t abandon their nests, they tend to feed in the same places, and they often keep to schedules. I suspect the birds in the photo have always fed on that faded line. It could be that the newer lines are painted with something that they find unappealing as well. It is odd, however, that they are lined up as they are. Pigeons do enjoy grit, but that seems to be an unlikely explanation. It could be that there is a peculiar individual that feeds them along that line every day. Stranger things have happened, at least in NYC! (Let’s just hope it isn’t poison.)”

    The mystery continues.

    Comment by jordan — November 28, 2006 #

  7. If you ask me, they’re planning world domination.

    I, for one, welcome our new pigeon overlords!

    Comment by ilya — December 11, 2006 #

  8. It could be Photoshopped haha

    Comment by Elsa — April 10, 2007 #

  9. Elsa, I took that picture. Unless my eyes are Photoshopped, too, these pigeons were lined up. :)

    Comment by sam — April 10, 2007 #

  10. […] by Everyday Scientist » geometry-conscious pigeons — November 27, 2006 @ 3:14 […]

    Pingback by Think Progress » Bush says he uses “the Google.” — May 4, 2007 #

Leave a comment

thanks for the comment

Powered by WordPress, Theme Based on "Pool" by Borja Fernandez
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS.