Spatial relational learning in rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus)
There is increasing evidence that animals can learn abstract spatial relationships, and successfully transfer this knowledge to novel situations. In this study, rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) were trained to feed from either the lower or the higher of two flowers. When presented with a test pair of flowers, one of which was at a novel height, they chose the flower in the appropriate spatial position rather than the flower at the correct height. This response may also have been influenced by a preference for taller flowers as acquisition of the task during experimental training occurred more readily when the reward flower was the taller of the pair. Thus, it appears that although learning abstract relationships may be a general phenomenon across contexts, and perhaps across species, the ease with which they are learned and the context in which they are subsequently used may not be the same.