The Pigeons Who Take The London Tube.

Photo source: London Transport Museum

Photo source: London Transport Museum

We were wandering by a highly recommended London blog called Thoughts From Finchley when its proprietor, Martin,told us about a strange habit the wildlife have on the London Tube. You can read his post – Passenger Pigeons– here.

They’ve been doing it for years,baffling scientists with what looks like evolutionary behaviour: the pigeons who take rides on London’s underground trains.

Pigeons – especially on the Northern and Piccadilly Lines – wait until a train stops, and boarding them, travelling one stop, and then getting off.

They have been puzzling tourists and scientists alike: not least letter-writers to the New Scientist who wrote to ask: can these birds possibly really know exactly what they are doing?

One woman wrote in to say: “I feel quite sure that travel, not food, was their purpose. I see no reason why they should not have cottoned on to the fact that travel by Tube saves their wings – especially as there are so many deformed and crippled pigeons in the city.”

Some even know which side to leave the tube.”A pair of pigeons hopped on to the Circle Line at Aldgate, stayed by the door, and alighted with purpose at the next stop – Tower Hill. How did they know the platform for Tower Hill was the same side of the carriage as that for Aldgate?” wrote one commuter.

Take a look at this documentary – and make up your own mind.

Thanks to Martin at Thoughts From Finchley for a superlative lead and Ian Kitching for this excellent report on the New Scientist Correspondence!

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12 comments

  1. One of the airports we were stranded in over the holidays had birds flying in the rafters, and we wondered: Why did birds need to be in an airport?

    1. Erk. Now what would Darwin say about that, I wonder? Are planes the next evolutionary step?

      1. No wonder they are all over the world. They have been in the luggage holds all along!

  2. amazing behaviour. not such birdbrains at all

    1. Nope: sophisticated problem solvers, it seems!

  3. They are amazing: even waiting in anticipation of the doors reopening!

    1. …..on the right side of the train!

  4. i cannot see the video is not available in Romania 😦
    Nice habbitat

    1. I found others videos on youtube.

  5. That is a great video to shoot in such a demanding environment as the tube. Thanks!

  6. […] The Pigeons Who Take The London Tube. (letterfrombritain.com) […]

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