Pigeons Remember That You Hate Them, Will Probably Plot Revenge Later

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Remember that pigeon you scowled and hissed at last week? He remembers you.

French scientists presented research at the recent Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference that suggested that not only do pigeons recognize people who’ve been hostile towards them in the past, but they also know enough to avoid them.

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The researchers came to this conclusion by having two people head into a park in Paris with bird feed, one of which ignored the birds and allowed them to eat while the other was hostile and chased the pigeons away. Later on the feeders returned and although neither of them chased the birds away, the pigeons recognized which one had previously been mean and avoided him completely. Even after repeated attempts at tricking the pigeons (by swapping the good and bad feeders’ clothes, for instance) the birds still knew which person to avoid.

Now, on the one hand, this seems like great news for anyone who wants to avoid pigeons: all you have to do is be mean to them and they’ll avoid you. But on the other hand, once you’ve been mean to these pigeons they’ll remember you, possibly forever. Sure, they’re avoiding you now, but maybe they’re just biding their time. We wouldn’t put anything past them. (via Village Voice)

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Megan Gibson is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @MeganJGibson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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