Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 141, Issue 1, pp 47–52

Wavelength discrimination in the ‘visible’ and ultraviolet spectrum by pigeons

  • Jacky Emmerton
  • Juan D. Delhis

DOI: 10.1007/BF00611877

Cite this article as:
Emmerton, J. & Delhis, J.D. J. Comp. Physiol. (1980) 141: 47. doi:10.1007/BF00611877


Using operant conditioning methods, the pigeon's wavelength discrimination abilities were assessed in two experiments to generate discrimination functions. Both these functions showed three minima at 460, 530 and 595 nm. In the second wavelength discrimination experiment, extending measurements into the UV spectral region, pigeons also maintained good discrimination between wavelengths within the UV range tested. A fourth minimum was indicated at the lower end of the spectral range tested (365–385 nm). The results point to the complexity of the pigeon's chromatic system, which must be at least tetrachromatic, probably pentachromatic.



positive stimulus


negative stimulus

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacky Emmerton
    • 1
  • Juan D. Delhis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyDurham UniversityDurhamEngland
  2. 2.Experimentelle Tierpsychologie, Psychologisches InstitutRuhr-Universität BochumBochum 1Federal Republic of Germany