redtabby's autism blog

A blog considering how psychology, psychiatry, social life and personal life do and don't interact with the autistic spectrum, sometimes obviously, sometimes not.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Pigeons' drinks

And about time too. I've been snagged by the dread seasonal-affective nonsense & presently have wool for brains. And I worry that no-one is reading this, which is a tad depressing also.
Anyway, at Silvertabby's at the new year I was communing with the back garden, a moderate expanse of grass and a strip of ground by the wall of the flats that supports a few rose trees and a shrub or two, and wondering if the growing of magnifying grass would make the garden look bigger, when some neighbouring pigeons from the roof of the house opposite came in and footled about on the grass, investigating it for snacks.
The sun was out, it was cold, and it had not rained for a while. The grass is punctured at intervals by about a dozen holes for now-defunct whirligig washing lines, which were of steel, and they all rusted out and snapped off because the holes filled up with rainwater.
A pigeon had worked this out and had stuck its neck down a pole hole, taking a drink. I told Silvertabby about it and we saw the pigeon stick its neck down another pole hole a day or two later. Only one of them did this, so it appeared to be a bit of lateral thinking by one particular pigeon and the rest of the group didn't appear to have learned from it.
It made me wonder if we should go around with the watering can in the drier months topping up pole holes for pigeon drinks. They have stretchy necks but only little beaks, and I wondered how far down the hole the water level would have to drop before the pigeon could no longer take advantage of it. Would it discover, like the crow in the story, that dropping stones into the hole would permanently raise the water level, or had it not thought of that yet, having only just discovered the drink supply this autumn?
It made me think of the brainy Japanese macaque we read about, the northern one that learned to take hot-spring baths in the snowy weather, and her family group eventually followed suit and created a hot-bath macaque culture. Is there an urban pigeons' pole-hole drinking culture, or is this pigeon a rogue inventor, and all its family disregard it as a seriously misguided and bonkers bird that needs the pigeon shrink?