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Friday, April 07, 2006

Do birds recognise people?

Do birds recognise people?

Calvin Lo of Yishun posted a most interesting account in Club Snap that I have got his permission to have it posted in the blog.

“About a week ago, I managed to save a juvenile Long-Tailed Shrike (Lanius schach) from the claws of the cat. Initially, I was worried that it would not survived because it continued to flutter carelessly to the ground quite often even though there were many cats roving the area.

“Fortunately, of late it grew wiser. Joeyao spotted it again and tried to approach it carefully with his camera, but this time it flew away before he got the chance to get near. Well, I was kind of sad that I would not be able to approach it so near any more.

“But yesterday evening, to my pleasant surprise, the little fellow appeared before me again. Instead of behaving skittishly as reported by Joeyao, it actually allowed me to move as close as 3m from it. In fact, for a while I was so near that I had to dismantle my tcon before the camera could focus properly. Managed to take about 10 over shots before it said goodbye to me. Don't think it was due to evening because the light was still bright enough for it to see me very well.

“So...I'm just puzzled, Do birds recognise people?”

Calvin Lo, 28th February 2006. Image also by Calvin.

Our bird specilist R. Subaraj has this to say: “Pet birds including mynas seem to recognise their owners and many animals in the wild have been documented to recognise specific people. It would therefore be nice to believe that this is indeed the case here too. The moral of the story is....'Be Kind To Animals' for they may truly appreciate you as a result. Well done Calvin!”

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4 Comments:

At 3:03 pm, Anonymous Ilsa said...

I'm no expert on this one, but several ornithologists I have spoken with in Australia and in Singapore say that birds do seem to recognise people, but it may be by memorising things like the colour or shape of clothes they are wearing more than their actual faces or personalities! - i.e. they only continue to recognise the people if the people continue to wear the same red tee shirt or baseball cap that they wore at the first encounter. Prof Sodhi of NUS' work on crows has documented some of this phenomenon (see our book 'Winged Invaders, Pest Birds of the Asia-Pacific', SNP International), and some Aussie researchers trying to habituate pest birds via 'aversion therapy' etc have managed to get them to associate humans wearing certain clothes with 'bad events' such as being shot at etc.

Ilsa Sharp
Perth, Western Australia

 
At 3:04 pm, Anonymous Jeremy Lee said...

My brother keeps a pair of lovebirds and do let them out of the cage on a daily basis. I am of about the same build as my brother and the birds do initially mistake me for him. But after closer inspection, the do notice the difference and are a bit more cautious.

 
At 12:29 pm, Anonymous Thailand Bird Watching said...

Hello there This is a short message to say that I was looking around the internet and thought your website was quite helpful Thankyou.

 
At 7:11 pm, Blogger Tou said...

I used to kept 2 hens, and one of them that is closer to me seems to be capable of recognizing me, my mum told me the bird is not having good appetite when i first leave home to uni, after nearly 2-3 years keeping her, when i return home during sem break, she was excited and eat pretty well, but she do aware of me when i am wearing a mask during the cleaning session of their cage. I wore different shirts and yet she will run to me when i pretend i have something she can eat in my hands. She gets comfortable with me everytime i hug her and even sometimes moved closer to brush her head on my shirt but she refuses to sit queitly when my cousin wished to take some photos with her, definitely a sign of avoiding strangers.

 

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