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Pidgeons eyesight

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745054.  Mon Sep 20, 2010 2:46 pm Reply with quote


I came in from work and was complaining to the wife how those stupid pidgeons wouldn't get out of the way until the last minute on the drive home.

She then re-assured me that on an episode of QI they stated that this was a common mistake and infact pidgeons had excellent eyesight.

The next day I came upon the pidgeons again, i lifted my foot from the accelerator and was going for the brake but then i remembered my wife's sage advice and returned to the accelerator.

The pidgeon did indeed take off in time ... To hit the roof bars with a thump and I was greeted with a bloom of plumage in the rear view mirror.

What is the official line on pidgeons?

Thanks QI!

745081.  Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:52 pm Reply with quote

Not sure what it was you hit, but Qi was probably talking about pigeons :)

Pigeons actually have excellent eyesight, and added to that they can sede ultraviolet light, so in a sense the can see a lot more than we can, plus their sight seems more accurate.

However, like any animal, they can be ill, distracted, or simply fed up of keeping up their mortgage payments.

745139.  Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:01 pm Reply with quote

We covered pigeons' eyesight in Season 1 - see

756289.  Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:49 am Reply with quote

Pigeons - if you think about it - are prey animals, they have their eyes on the sides of their heads to enable them to have a wrap-around view of the world. This is useful because predators can strike from any angle.

Snag is, having your eyes on the sides of your head causes pidgies depth perception to be a bit lacking (compared to predators who have their eyes facing frontwards to better judge distance, speed, etc)

So a pidge widge will see your car, will make a mental note of your car, will shuffle about a bit looking embarressed ...and will have ab-so-lute-ly bog all idea how fast its travelling towards it's feathery little face.

BUt here's the strange bit: pigeons in any other situation, have lightning fast reactions (which is why the little so-and-so's are so hard to catch) They HAVE to be fast to avoid predation. So why don't they fly off when they see a car coming towards them? Is it the lack of 'proper' depth perception or is it the case that a pigeon cannot comprehend something moving so much faster than it can and so doesn't react in time? Cars after all, are not part of the natural world - and move one heck of a lot faster than anything in nature can.

I volunteer at a wildlife hospital - and I confess, I love pigeons to bits. They are funny, smart, daft-as-brush birds. But to catch a pidge by hand needs lightening fast speed - and accuracy - because responding to anything close up (like a human trying to catch it) they move SO fast, it's almost impossible to get your hands on them. By the time you've reached out to grab it, the pigeon has already unfolded it's wings, leaped into the air, done a MASSIVE downstroke and is already a fair few wingflaps ahead of the human. You've missed before you've even started.

(I can catch a cornered pigeon by hand because I've perfected a faster-than-you-can-blink strike.... Hee!!)

So close up, a pidge is lightening fast at avoiding things, at a distance (i.e. when faced with a car) they are a bit sssssllllloooowwwww to respond.


I dunno, I have my theories as listed about - but I'll ask one of the lil' feathery fellas next week!!


756295.  Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:06 am Reply with quote

G'day B13 :) Welcome.

Alfred E Neuman
756309.  Sat Oct 30, 2010 7:51 am Reply with quote

Around here they tend to pig out on grain that is spilled during transport, which makes them very heavy and slow, as well as being right on the road, so they get hit quite often. The crows that eat roadkill pigeons seem a lot more careful.

And if that doesn't get them, Cradock (my cat) does a pretty good job too. He's normally just a layabout and a scrapper and usually lets his sister catch the rats, but has developed a taste for pigeons recently.

756390.  Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:10 pm Reply with quote

Welcome B13 :-)

In the pilot programme of QI, one question that was asked was 'Why don't pigeons like going to the movies?'

The answer, IIRC, was that birds' visual systems work much faster than humans (to us, a 26 frames-per-second movie film looks like continuous movement, whereas to a bird it looks like slowed-down jerky stop-motion). Therefore, when you approach a pigeon it knows it has loads of time to fly away.

920823.  Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:21 am Reply with quote

I wrote a 24-28 line poem about how my cat was eyeing off a pigeon for tea, and on each verse's penultimate line I put the phrase 'potential meal', with the final verse:
My cat has caught the pigeon,
towards him it did come
It became a meal
And is now in his tum!


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