Nerdy birdies: meet the pigeons who are redefining "human" behaviour with their remarkable pattern recognition abilities
Nearly every day for two years, Scarf trained four pigeons. He would place the birds in a box with a touch screen, and then present the animals with either a real or fake four-letter word, along with a star below the letters. If the word was real, the birds were to touch it with their beaks; if it was fake, they were to touch the star. If the subjects answered correctly, they would get a bit of wheat. At the end of the training, the pigeons were able to recognize dozens of words—including ones they had never seen before—with about 70 percent accuracy.