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Name: Douglas
Status: n/a
Grade: other
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: Canada
Date: Summer 2013

I am a resident of a seniors' complex and live in an apartment with a balcony. We are curious to know why pigeons alight on the balcony rail first and if that is not possible, because our rail is oversized and curved, they choose to land on the ledge of the balcony and encroach from under the rail instead of flying directly on to the balcony. We re intrigued by this behaviour and wish to know if anyone knows why.

Hi Douglas,

Thanks for the question. I am not sure as to why pigeons display this behavior when they land. Perhaps they are over-sized and landing is awkward for them? Perhaps the surface has too large of a curvature for their talons? It could be that the pigeons imitate this behavior from the birds that land first on your balcony.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have more questions. Thanks Jeff

Many birds have evolved a series of behaviors that help assure their safety. Their landing behavior is most like a fear response and they will land in such a way that if there is a danger, their escape can be easily facilitated. After surveying the balcony, then they may proceed or leave.

Steve Sample

Hi Douglas,

If I understand you correctly, the pigeons don't fly directly onto the deck...they first land either on a railing or a ledge.

I would assume it is a way for them to make a safe approach. If they land on the railing and observe danger, they can fly off and not be harmed. If things appear to be safe from their landing site, they can make a further, closer approach onto the deck of the balcony.

I would finally state that most if not all behaviors observed in nature by organisms can be viewed either to promote survival or enhance reproductive success. Eating the right foods, migrating when those foods are not available or if the environment becomes too harsh for survival, colorful plumage in birds to best attract a mate and ensure offspring, etc.. You can use (and test) this statement by further observance of organisms in the wild and see if you can see either a survival or reproductive motive.

Thanks for using NEWTON! Ric Rupnik

I can't answer the specific question - I don't know enough about behavioral details and I'd want to see it for myself. I can offer that birds, and other creatures, are naturally cautious and rarely directly approach nests, feeding locations or other places they might feel threatened. They will pause short of the ultimate destination to check for predators or other threats, take indirect routes, or other careful behavior. I hope this helps.

J. Elliott

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