A new study from the Oxford University has found that Homing pigeons may have the ability to build on the knowledge of others, which can be used to improve their navigational skills.
The ability to gather information over generations is known as cumulative culture and until now, it now only humans and certain primates are thought capable of using it. In humans, we see its presence in the manufacturing sector. With every new generation, we see some form of improvement thanks to new methods and ideas, but when it comes to pigeons it’s a little less complex.
In order to study cumulative culture, researchers had to get creative with flight paths. Ten chains of birds were released on the same path, while only certain birds in the chain were privy to some generational insight. This was done via interaction with birds that had gone down that specific route before.
The researchers found that the flight path improved consistently over the various generations. These birds performed better than pigeons that had no cumulative culture.
This basically proves that pigeons can accumulate knowledge over generations, which makes them part of a very small group indeed.