Main content area

Food choice in the laboratory pigeon

Biedermann, Traci, Garlick, Dennis, Blaisdell, Aaron P.
Behavioural processes 2012 v.91 no.1 pp. 129-132
Helianthus annuus, breads, food choices, freeze drying, heart, learning, novel foods, nutrient content, particle size, peanuts, peas, pigeons, popcorn, popping, seeds
Although food reward plays a large role in learning and behavioral experiments, there have been few studies examining the most motivating food reward for pigeons. Brown (1969) found that pigeons had a tendency to prefer peas, while Killeen et al. (1993) found pigeons to prefer peas and popcorn in Experiment 1A. We looked to further explore these options as well as expand upon the types of foods examined beyond mainly grains and seeds. Pigeons were presented with six novel foods (granulated peanuts, popping corn, freeze-dried mealworms, bread crumbs, split peas, and sunflower hearts) allocated into two sets of three food items. Once the most consumed food from each food set was determined, they were pooled together with sorghum seeds (a familiar food) to form a third set. Sunflower hearts were the most consumed of all the food items, followed by corn and granulated peanuts. We discuss the potential factors mediating consumption choice, including nutritional profile and food particle size.