New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1986) 9: 143- 151

Information-Transfer in Pigeon Colonies

Research Article
J. A. McLennan  
B. W. H. Macmillan  
  1. Ecology Division, DSIR, Private Bag, Havelock North, New Zealand

The hypothesis that communal roosts and breeding colonies of birds act as information centres for food-finding was tested using pigeons, Columba livia, in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. The birds roosted and bred in lofts, but were free each day to search for food in the surrounding fields. Two of three experiments showed that naive pigeons could learn the location of a patch of food when with experienced birds. A fourth experiment showed that naive birds learned by following experienced ones to a good feeding area. Pigeons returning from a successful foraging trip did not transfer information on the distance and direction of the food to other members of the colony.