Are Pigeons Smart Or Dumb

Are Pigeons Smart Or Dumb Compared To Other House Animals?

When it comes to the intelligence of pigeons, the perception of these birds as mere city pests is far from the truth. In fact, these birds possess a remarkable set of cognitive abilities that rival those of some house animals.

So, are pigeons smart or dumb compared to other house animals? Pigeons have been known to recognize hundreds of individual birds and even human faces. A pigeon knows the reflection in the mirror is itself. They also possess a strong ability to learn and understand new tasks, such as matching patterns and colors. 

Hang on as we delve more into the high intelligence quotient of these smart birds in this article. You’d love them more!

Are Pigeons Smart Or Dumb Compared To Other House Animals?

Pigeons are one of the only non-primate animals that are self-aware. They may not be as smart as the corvids, but they have a high level of intelligence and are smarter than most house animals. Studies have also shown that they are capable of empathy, exhibiting distress when they see other birds in distress.

Are Pigeons Smart Or Dumb

Fascinating Insights That Demonstrate Their Cognitive Abilities

Pigeons, often thought of as mere city pests are actually quite smart and intelligent birds. So many tests and experiments have been done using pigeons as they are so smart and easy to train. Now let’s take a look at some of their cognitive abilities. 

Pigeons Cognitive Abilities

Great Memory 

Pigeons have a remarkable memory and can recognize hundreds of individual birds and even human faces. They’re good memorizers that compete greatly with humans. And they can play and win games like memory games.

For example, in a game, they were shown some images on cards. Then the cards are turned over and then shown again, and pigeons were able to identify the matching one.

Ability To Understand And Complete Tasks 

They can understand the concept of “same” and “different” and can complete tasks that involve matching patterns or colors. 

Ability To Understand And Complete Tasks

Similarly, pigeons can understand the concept of “greater than” or “less than” and can order numbers on a scale. Also can complete simple video games using their beaks to control a cursor.

Ability To Differentiate

They also have been shown to possess a sense of aesthetic appreciation and can distinguish between different types of artwork. 

Again, scientific tests on pigeons show that they can tell the differences between two photographs. They can also distinguish between 2 persons in one photograph when you reward them with food. 

Sense Of Direction And Navigation 

They have been shown to have a sense of direction and can navigate using landmarks, the sun, and the earth’s magnetic field.

Pigeons Sense Of Direction And Navigation

Good In Decision-Making 

Pigeons have been proven to have the capability of making decisions based on probability. They can also understand the concept of zero.

They Can Be Trained And Are Fast In Learning

They undergo training and learn very fast. For example, they were taught by marines to press the switches once they saw anyone afloat on the ocean. They easily grasped that and at some time, they have been used by the coast guard to find people lost at sea.

They Can Be Trained And Are Fast In Learning

These intelligent birds received training on how to direct bombs and missiles to warships owned by enemies. They simply had to direct the bomb to their target by following the instructions given to them on the screen. Guess what they delivered smartly. Also, they can learn words and commands.

High Level Of Self-Recognition 

They’re one among many birds that passed the mirror test. They can recognize themselves in a mirror.  They have a faster identifier rate than humans. The pigeon can also recognize all 26 letters of the English alphabet as well as be able to interpret. 

Comparison Between The Intelligence Of Pigeons And Some House Animals

Intelligence Of Pigeons

There are some house animals believed to have some level of smartness, hence let’s consider their intelligence with that of a pigeon. 

Intelligence traitsPigeonDog CatRatSquirrel
MemoryExcellent HighHighHighHigh
Decision makingHighModerate GoodGoodGood
Navigation Excellent HighGoodGoodExcellent 
Empathy Excellent Excellent LowModerate Moderate 

From the table above, you’d see that pigeons have higher intelligence traits than most house animals. This makes this bird stand out among different families of animals. 

Are Pigeons Smart Enough To Be Pets?

Yes. Pigeons are intelligent birds and have the ability to learn and form connections with humans. They make amazing smart pets because they easily comprehend and are used for different purposes. 

However, they are not typically kept as pets in the traditional sense and require specific care and living conditions. They also have specific dietary and exercise needs. 

They are often considered wild birds and do not adapt well to captivity. It is illegal in many places to keep pigeons as pets without proper permits. Watch this video to learn about them more.

Pigeons As Smart Messengers

Pigeons have been used as smart messengers for thousands of years. They have been used in war and in peace to carry messages across long distances quickly. The use of homing pigeons as messengers dates back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. 

Also, they were used extensively in World War I and World War II to carry messages behind enemy lines. The pigeons’ homing ability, speed, and altitude made them a reliable means of communication. These attributes reveal the smartness and intelligence of these birds. 

Pigeons As Smart Messengers

Pigeons Used At Shows

Pigeons are often used in shows such as racing events and flying demonstrations. Racing pigeons are specially bred and trained to fly long distances at high speeds, and races can cover distances up to 600 miles (1000 km). 

Pigeons Used At Shows

Flying demonstrations often feature trained and smart homing pigeons, which can fly intricate patterns and maneuvers. Pigeons are also used in a sport called “dove releases”. This involves releasing a flock of white doves at special events such as weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies.

If you’re interested in learning more about pigeon behavior and their role in nature, you might find our articles on do hawks eat pigeons and what are pigeons good for helpful. Our article on do hawks eat pigeons explores the feeding habits of hawks and their interactions with pigeons, while our article on what are pigeons good for sheds light on the ecological and cultural significance of pigeons. Check them out to deepen your understanding of pigeon behavior and their role in nature


Let’s provide answers to some salient questions people also ask regarding the smartness and intelligence of pigeons. 

Q: Are pigeons smart or dumb?

Pigeons are regarded as one of the smartest birds after the crows (corvids family) based on the various findings of different researchers and scientists,  They possess excellent memory, great vision, smart hearing skills and a high level of self-recognition. 

Q: What is the intelligence of pigeons?

They are among the few species of birds to pass the mirror test. They can navigate and understand directions. Also, can differentiate between artworks and letters of the English alphabet. 

Q: Where do pigeons rank in intelligence?

These birds have smart brains and are considered to be far more intelligent than most house animals and primates. They’re able to undertake difficult tasks and complete them effortlessly. 


So, are pigeons smart or dumb compared to other house animals? The answer is clear: they are just as intelligent, if not more so, than many of the animals we keep as pets. Next time you see a pigeon in the city, remember that it is not just a flying rat. But a highly intelligent bird with a unique set of abilities and talents.

Overall, if you want to appreciate the intelligence of pigeons more, consider feeding them. Or even better, observing them closely in their natural habitat, you might be surprised by what you learn about them.

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