Discrimination and recognition of photographs of places by homing pigeons.
Dawkins MS., Guilford T., Braithwaite VA., Krebs JR.
Operant studies on pigeons using slide-projected images suggest that photographs of geographical locations might be used as a research tool to study the importance of visual landmarks in homing. Before using this method, however, it is necessary to show that pigeons do see photographic slides as representing real world locations. After reviewing the evidence for picture-to-object correspondence for geographical locations in pigeons, we report the results of an experiment designed to test whether outdoor experience at a location affected homing pigeons' ability to categorise slides of that versus another location displayed in an operant set-up. Four birds visited one location immediately before each experimental session; four birds visited an irrelevant location. No effect of outdoor experience was found on acquisition, or transfer to novel stimuli. The possible reasons for limitations on picture-to-object correspondence are discussed.