Rapid adjustment of pecking trajectory to prism-induced visual shifts in crows as compared with pigeons

Hiroshi Matsui, Ei Ichi Izawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Pecking in birds is analogous to reaching and grasping movements in primates. Earlier studies on visuomotor control in birds, which were conducted mostly in pigeons, suggested that avian pecking is controlled feedforwardly, and is out of the control of visual guidance during movement. However, recent studies using crows suggested a role of vision in pecking control during movement. To unveil what visuomotor mechanisms underlie the flexibility of pecking in crows, we examined whether pigeons and crows adjust their pecking to the visual distortion induced by prisms. Because prisms induce visual shifts of object positions, birds were required to adjust their movements. Pecking kinematics were examined before and after attaching prisms in front of the birds' eyes. Analysis of lateral deviation caused by the prisms showed that crows rapidly adjusted their pecking trajectories, but pigeons did so slowly. Angular displacement also increased in pigeons after attachment of the prism, but decreased in crows. These responses to prisms were consistent among individuals in pigeons but varied in crows, though the adjustment of pecking commonly succeeded in crows. These results suggest that pecking in pigeons predominantly involves feedforward control and that the movement is determined depending on the visual information available before the initiation of pecking. In contrast, the results from crows suggest that their pecking trajectories are corrected during the movement, supporting on-line visual control. Our findings provide the first evidence to suggest the on-line visual control of pecking in birds.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb182345
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb


  • Columba livia
  • Corvus macrorhynchos
  • Grasping
  • Motor control
  • Reaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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