Another astonishing fact

Here’s another astonishing fact from the world beyond the park’s boundaries: in a Japanese laboratory, researchers trained wood pigeons to discriminate between paintings by Picasso and by Monet.

Initially, the pigeons were taught to recognise colour slides of paintings by Monet and Picasso but after this training, they were able to correctly identify paintings that they had never seen before as being by either Monet or Picasso. They could even identify a painting by Picasso if it was upside down.

Head of a Sleeping woman by Pablo Picasso and Madame Monet by Claude Monet

These results suggest that pigeons can categorise highly complex visual information. The evolutionary advantage of advanced art appreciation may not be immediately obvious, but learning to discriminate between the complex patterns of tree bark and the camouflaged feathers of the sparrowhawk sitting on it, and then applying what you have learned to the next tree and a different bird of prey sitting on a different branch – now that must have distinct benefits.

Pictures of pigeons taken in the park by DKG
Works by Picasso and Monet from the public domain.

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