Dr. Louis Lefebvre

Photo: Guy L'Heureux

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Ducatez, S., Sayol, F., Sol, D., Sayol, F. & Lefebvre, L. (2020) Behavioural plasticity is associated with reduced extinction risks in birds. Nature Ecology & Evolution
Media - NY Times article: Birds that eat fire, pet food and sugar packets to live another day


Ducatez, S., Sayol, F., Sol, D., Lefebvre, L. (2018) Are Urban Vertebrates City Specialists, Artificial Habitat Exploiters, or Environmental Generalists? Integrative and Comparative Biology, 1–10, doi:10.1093/icb/icy101


Lefebvre, L. (2018). Collared doves feeding on food pellets in an urban feral cat shelter. British Birds. 111: 50.

Audet, J.N., Kayello, L., Ducatez, S., Perillo, S., Cauchard, L., Howard, J.T., O'Connell, L.A., Jarvis, E.D., Lefebvre, L. (2018). Divergence in problem-solving skills is associated with differential expression of glutamate receptors in wild finches. Science Advances 4: eaao6369


Audet, J.N., Lefebvre L. (2017). What's flexible in behavioral flexibility? Behavioral Ecology 28: 943–947,doi:10.1093/beheco/arx007


Audet J.N., Lefebvre L., Kayello, L., Ducatez, S., O’Connell, L.A., Jarvis, E.D. (2016)
Neurotransmitter receptor expression differences between innovative and conservative sister species of Barbados finches. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 87: 290–291

Sol, D., Sayol, F., Ducatez, S. and Lefebvre, L. (2016) The life-history basis of behavioural innovations. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371:20150187

Sayol, F., Lefebvre, L. and Sol, D. (2016) Relative Brain Size and Its Relation with Associative Pallium in Birds. Brain Behav. Evol. DOI: 10.1159/000444670

Lefebvre, L., Ducatez, S. and Audet, J.-N. (2016) Feeding innovations in a nested phylogeny of Neotropical passerines. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 371: 2015188

Ducatez, S., Audet, J.-N., Rodriguez, J. R., Kayello, L. and Lefebvre, L. (2016) Innovativeness and the effects of urbanization on risk-taking behaviors in wild Barbados birds. Anim. Cogn. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-016-1007-0

Audet, J.-N., Ducatez, S. and Lefebvre, L. (2016) Bajan Birds Pull Strings: Two Wild Antilean Species Enter the Select Club of String-Pullers. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0156112


Ducatez, S., Clavel. J., Lefebvre, L. (2015) Ecological generalism and behavioral innovation in birds: technical intelligence or the simple incorporation of new foods? Journal of Animal Ecology 84: 79–89.

Lefebvre, L. (2015) Should neuroecologists separate Tinbergen's four questions? Behavioural Processes 117: 92–96.

Ducatez, S., Audet, J.N., Lefebvre L. (2015) Problem solving and learning in Carib grackles: individuals show a consistent speed-accuracy trade-off. Animal Cognition 18: 485-496.

Audet, J-N., Ducatez, S. and Lefebvre, L. (2015) The Town Bird and the Country Bird: problem solving and immunocompetence vary with urbanization. Behavioral Ecology 27: 637-644.


Ducatez, S. and Lefebvre, L. (2014) Patterns of research effort in birds. PLoS ONE 9: e89955.

Ducatez, S., Clavel. J., Lefebvre, L. (2014) Ecological generalism and behavioral innovation in birds: technical intelligence or the simple incorporation of new foods? Journal of Animal Ecology 84: 79-89 doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12255.

Audet, J.N., Ducatez, S, Lefebvre, L. (2014) Morphological and molecular sexing of the monochromatic Barbados bullfinch, Loxigilla barbadensis. Zoological Sciences 31: 687–691.

Lefebvre, L. (2014) Voyager à tire-de-chant. Québec Oiseaux, automne 2014


Lefebvre, Louis (2013) Brains, innovations, tools and cultural transmission in birds, non-human primates, and fossil hominins. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Vol 7 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00245

Jeremy R. Corfield, Tim R. Birkhead, Claire N. Spottiswoode, Andrew N. Iwaniuk, Neeltje J. Boogert, Cristian Gutiérrez-Ibánez, Sarah E. Overington, Douglas R. Wylie, Louis Lefebvre (2013) Brain Size and Morphology of the Brood-Parasitic and Cerophagous Honeyguides (Aves: Piciformes). Brain, Behaviour and Evolution 81:170-186.

Louis Lefebvre, Simon M. Reader and Daniel Sol (2013) Innovating Innovation Rate and Its Relationship with Brains, Ecology and General Intelligence. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 81: 143-145.

Laure Cauchard, Neeltje J. Boogert, Louis lefebvre, Frédérique Dubois and Blandine Doligez (2013) Problem-solving performance is correlated with reproductive success in a wild bird population. Animal Behaviour 85: 19-26.

S. Ducatez, J. N. Audet and L. Lefebvre (2013) Independent appearance of an innovative feeding behaviour in Antillean bullfinches. Anim. Cogn. 16: 525-529.


Lefebvre, Louis (2012) An adaptive framework for parturition and predation pain. Contemporary Hypnosis and Integrative Therapy 29:27-33.

Lefebvre, Louis (2012) Primate encephalization. In Evolution of the Primate Brain: From Neuron to Behavior, M.A. Hoffman and D. Falk (Eds.),Elsevier B.V., Progress in Brain Research, Vol. 195, Chapter 19, pp. 393-412.


Lefebvre, L. (2011) Taxonomic counts of cognition in the wild. Biology Letters, 7: 631-633.

Boogert, N.J., Fawcett, T. and Lefebvre, L. (2011) Mate choice for cognitive traits: a review of the evidence in vertebrates. Behavioral Ecology, 22: 462-463.

Boogert, N.J, Giraldeau, L.A. and Lefebvre, L. (2011) Does foraging behaviour affect female mate preferences and pair formation in captive Zebra finches? Public Library of Science (PloS) One, 5 (12): e14340.

Overington, S.E, Cauchard, L., Côté, K.A. and Lefebvre, L. (2011) Innovative foraging behaviour in birds: what characterizes an innovator? Behavioral Processes, 87: 274-285.

Overington, S.E., Griffin, A.S, Sol, D. and Lefebvre, L. (2011) Are innovative species ecological generalists? A test in North American birds. Behavioral Ecology, 22: 1286-1293.

Vas, Z., Lefebvre, L., Johnson, K.P., Reiczigel, J. and Rózsa, L. (2011) Clever birds are lousy: co-variation between avian innovation and the taxonomic richness of their Amblyceran lice. International Journal for Parasitology, 41:1295-1300.

Overington, S.E. and Lefebvre, L. (2011) Food Unpredictability and Foraging. In: V. R. Preedy, C. Martin and R. Ross (Eds.) Handbook of Behavior, Diet and Nutrition. Springer, New-York, pp. 941-956.


Lefebvre, L and Boogert, N. J. (2010) Avian Social Learning. In: Breed M.D. and Moore J., (eds.) Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, volume 1, pp. 124-130. Oxford Academic Press, Elsevier Ltd.

Neeltje Janna Boogert, Karine Monceau, Louis Lefebvre (2010) A field test of behaviouralflexibility in Zenaida doves (Zenaida aurita) Behavioural Processes 85: 135-141.

Lefebvre, L. (2010) Taxonomic counts of cognition in the wild. Biology Letters doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0556

Neeltje J. Boogert, Cavina Bui, Krsta Howarth, Luc-Alain Giraleau, Louis Lefebvre (2010) Does Foraging Behaviour Affect Female Mate Preferences and Pair Formation in Captive Zebra Finches? PLoS One 5 (12): 1-14.


Iwaniuk, A.N., Lefebvre, L., R.W. Wylie, D. R.W. (2009) The comparative approach and brain-behaviour relationships: A tool for understanding tool use. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 150-159.

Overington, S.E., Cauchard, L., Morand-Ferron, J., Lefebvre, L. (2009) Innovation in groups: does the proximity of others facilitate or inhibit performance? Behaviour 146, 1543-1564.

Overington, S.E., Boogert, N.J., Morand-Ferron, J., Lefebvre, L. (2009) Technical innovations drive the relationship between innovativeness and residual brain size in birds. Animal Behaviour, 78, 1001-1010.


Sol, D, Bacher, S., Reader, S. M., Lefebvre, L. (2008) Brain size predicts the success of mammal species introduced into novel environments. American Naturalist. 172, S63.S71

Lefebvre, L., Sol. D (2008) Brains, lifestyles and cognition: are there general trends? Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 72, 135-144.

Overington, S. Dubois, F. Lefebvre, L. (2008) Resource unpredictability drives both generalism and social foraging: a game theoretical model. Behavioral Ecology, 19:836-841.

Boogert, N.J., Giraldeau, L.A. Lefebvre L. (2008) Song complexity correlates with learning ability in zebra finch males. Animal Behaviour, 76: 1735-1741.

Marino, L., Butti, C., Connor, R.C., Fordyce R.E., Herman L.M., Hof P.R., Lefebvre, L., Lusseau, D., McCowan, B., Nimchinsky, E.A., Pack, A.A., Rendell, L., Reidenberg, J.S., Reiss, D., Rendell, L., Uhen, M.D., Van der Gucht, E., Whitehead, H. (2008) A claim in search of evidence: Reply to Manger's thermogenesis hypothesis of cetacean brain structure. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 83, 417-440.

Raes, A., Lefebvre, L., Jordaens, K. (2008) First report of fishing in the European Blackbird Turdus merula. Acta Ornithologica, 43, 231-234.

Lefebvre, L. Petits futés! L’innovation comme signe d’intelligence. Québec Oiseaux, v.20 (2), 2008, pp. 10-14. (Invited cover article for 20th anniversary issue).


Sol, D., Szekely, T., Liker, A., Lefebvre, L. (2007) Big-brained birds survive better in nature. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 274: 763-769.

Bouchard, J, Goodyer, W., Lefebvre, L. (2007) Innovation and social learning are positively correlated in pigeons. Animal Cognition 10: 259-266.

Marino, L., Connor, R.C., Fordyce R.E., Herman L.M., Hof P.R., Lefebvre, L., Lusseau, D., McCowan, B., Nimchinsky, E.A., Pack, A.A., Rendell, L., Reidenberg, J.S., Reiss, D., Uhen, M.D., Van der Gucht, E.,Hal Whitehead, H. (2007) Cetaceans Have Complex Brains for Complex Cognition. Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology, v. 5,  e139, pp. 966-972.

Morand-Ferron, J., Sol, D., Lefebvre, L. (2007) Food-stealing in birds: brain or brawn. Animal Behaviour 74: 1725-1734 (featured on Faculty 1000 and Animal Behaviour In Focus section: The Mind of a Thief, by Michael Breed, p. 1065).

Morand-Ferron, J., Giraldeau, L.A.,  Lefebvre, L. (2007) Wild carib grackles play a producer-scrounger game. Behavioral Ecology 18: 916-921.

Morand-Ferron, J., Lefebvre, L. (2007) Flexible expression of a food-processing behaviour: determinants of dunking rates in wild Carib grackles of Barbados. Behavioural Processes 76: 218-221.

Giraldeau, L.A., Lefebvre, L., Morand-Ferron, J. (2007) Can restrictive definitions lead to biases and tautologies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30: 411-412.


Lefebvre, L. (2006) Social intelligence and forebrain size in birds. In: J. Kaas (Ed.) The Evolution of Nervous Systems, Vol 2. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 229-236.

Lefebvre, L., Reader, S.M., Boire, D. (2006) The evolution of encephalization. In: J. Kaas (Ed.) The Evolution of Nervous Systems, Vol 1. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 121-142.

Marino, L., Sol, D., Toren, K. and Lefebvre, L. (2006) Does diving limit brain size in Cetaceans? Marine Mammal Science 22(2): 413-425.

Morand-Ferron, J., Veillette, M. and Lefebvre, L. (2006) Stealing of dunked food in Carob grackles (Quiscalus lugubris). Behavioural Processes 73: 342-347.


Sol, D., Elie, M., Marcoux, M., Chrostovsky, E., Porcher, C. & Lefebvre, L. (2005) Ecological mechanisms of a resource polymorphism in zenaida doves of Barbados: the importance of competitive exclusion.  Ecology 86: 2397-2407.

Sol, D., Lefebvre, L. & Rodríguez-Teijeiro, J.D. (2005) Brain size, innovative propensity and migratory behaviour in temperate Palearctic birds.  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 272: 1433-1441.

Sol, D., Sterling, G. & Lefebvre, L. (2005) Behavioral drive or behavioural inhibition in evolution: subspecific diversification in Holarctic Passerines.  Evolution 59: 2669-2677.

Sol, D., Lefebvre, L. and Rodriguez-Teijeiro, D. J. (2005) Brain size, innovative propensity and migratory behaviour in temperate Palaeartic birds. Proc. R. Soc. B. 272: 1433-1441.

Griffin, A.S., Savani, R.S., Hausmanis, K. & Lefebvre, L. (2005) Mixed-species aggregations in birds: zenaida doves (Zenaida aurita) respond to the alarm calls of carib grackles (Quiscalus lugubris). Animal Behaviour 70: 507-515.

Griffin, A. S. and Galef, B. G. (2005) Social learning about predators: does timing matter? Animal Behaviour 69: 669-678.

Sol, D., Duncan, R. P., Blackburn, T. M., Cassey, P. and Lefebvre, L. (2005) Big brains, enhanced cognition, and response of birds to novel environments. PNAS 102: 5460-5465.


Lefebvre, L., Reader, S.M. & Sol, D (2004)   Brain, innovation and evolution in birds and primates. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 63: 233-246.

Morand-Ferron, J., Lefebvre, L., Sol, D., Reader, S.M. & Elvin, S. (2004)  Dunking behaviour in carib grackles. Animal Behaviour 68: 1267-1274.

Dubois, F., Giraldeau, L.A., Hamilton, I., Grant, J. & Lefebvre L. (2004) Distraction sneakers decrease the expected levels of aggression within groups: a game theoretic model. American Naturalist 164: E32-E4.


Nicolakakis, N., Sol, D., Lefebvre, L. (2003) Behavioural flexibility predicts species richness in birds, but not extinction risk. Animal Behaviour 65: 445-452.

Lefebvre, L., Bouchard, J. (2003) Social learning about food in birds. pp. 94-126: in The Biology of Traditions, ed. by D.M. Fragaszy and S. Perry; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Reader, S.M., Morand-Ferron, J., Côté, I., Lefebvre, L. (2003) Unusual feeding behaviors in five species of Barbadian birds. El Pitirre 15: 117-120.

Nicolakakis, N., Sol, D., Lefebvre, L. (2003) Behavioural flexibility predicts species richness in birds, but not extinction risk. Animal Behaviour 65: 445-452.


Sol, D., Timmermans, S., Lefebvre, L. (2002) Behavioural flexibility and invasion success in birds. Animal Behaviour 63: 495-502.

Lefebvre, L., Nicolakakis, N., Boire, D. (2002) Tools and brains in birds. Behaviour 139: 939-973.

Reader, S., Nover, D., Lefebvre, L. (2002) Locale-specific sugar-packet opening by Lesser- Antillean bullfinches in Barbados. Journal of Field Ornithology 73: 82-85.


Lefebvre, L., Juretic, N., Timmermans, S., Nicolakakis, N. (2001) Is the link between forebrain size and feeding innovations caused by confounding variables? A test of Australian birds and North American birds. Animal Cognition 4: 91-97.

Webster, S., Lefebvre, L. (2001) Problem-solving and neophobia in a Columbiform-Passeriform assemblage in Barbados. Animal Behaviour 62: 23-32.

Seferta, A., Guay, P.J., Marzinotto, E, Lefebvre, L, (2001) Learning differences between feral pigeons and zenaida doves: the role of neophobia and human proximity. Ethology 107: 281-293.

Reader, S.M., Lefebvre, L. (2001) Social learning and sociality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24: 353-354.

Lefebvre, L., Reader, S., Webster, S. (2001) Novel food use by gray kingbirds and red-necked pigeons in Barbados. Bulletin of the British Ornithologist’s Club 121: 247-249.

Goldberg, J., Grant, J.W.A., Lefebvre, L. (2001) Effects of the temporal predictability and spatial clumping of food on the intensity of competitive aggression in the Zenaida dove. Behavioral Ecology 12: 490-495.


Lefebvre, L. (2000) The origin and cultural transmission of feeding innovations in birds; pp. 311-328 in: The Evolution of Cognition, ed. by C.M. Heyes and L. Huber; MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

Timmermans, S., Lefebvre, L., Boire, D., Basu, P. (2000) Relative size of the hyperstriatum ventrale is the best predictor of innovation rate in birds. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 56: 196-203.

Sol, D. and Lefebvre, L. (2000) Behavioural flexibility predicts invasion success in birds introduced to New Zealand. OIKOS 90: 599-605.

Webster, S., Lefebvre, L. (2000) Neophobia in the Lesser-Antillean bullfinch, a foraging generalist, and the bananaquit, a nectar specialist. The Wilson Bulletin 112: 424-427.

Nicolakakis, N., Lefebvre, L. (2000) Forebrain size and innovation rate in European birds: feeding, nesting and confounding variables. Behaviour 137: 1415-1429.


(Please contact Carole Smith to obtain PDF of articles <2000)

Lefebvre, L., Gaxiola, A., Dawson, S., Rozsa, L., Kabai, P. (1998) Feeding innovations and forebrain size in Australasian birds. Behaviour 135: 1077-1097.

Russon, A., Mitchell, R., Lefebvre, L., Abravanel, E. (1998) The comparative evolution of imitation; pp. 103-143: in Piaget, Evolution and Intelligence, ed. by J. Langer and M. Killen; L. Erlbaum, Hillsdale N.

Lefebvre, L., Helder, R. (1997) Scrounger numbers and the inhibition of learning in pigeons. Behavioural Processes 40: 210-207.

Lefebvre, L., Whittle, P., Lascaris, E., Finkelstein, A. (1997) Feeding innovations and forebrain size in birds. Animal Behaviour 53: 549-560.

Lefebvre, L., Templeton, J., Brown, K., Koelle, M. (1997) Carib grackles imitate conspecific and Zenaida dove tutors. Behaviour 134: 1003-1017.

Hatch, K. K. and Lefebvre, L. (1997) Does father know best? Social learning from kin and non-kin in juvenile ringdoves. Behavioural Processes 41: 1-10.

Carlier, P., Lefebvre, L. (1997) Ecological differences in social learning between adjacent, mixing populations of Zenaida doves. Ethology 103: 772-784.

Carlier, P., Lefebvre, L. (1996) Differences in individual learning between group- foraging and territorial Zenaida doves. Behaviour 133: 1197-1207.

Dolman, C., Templeton, J., Lefebvre, L. (1996) Mode of foraging competition is related to tutor preference in Zenaida aurita. Journal of Comparative Psychology 110: 45-54.

Lefebvre, L., Palameta, B., Hatch, K.K. (1996) Is group-living associated with social learning? A comparative test of a gregarious and a territorial Columbid. Behaviour 133: 241-261.

Lefebvre, L., Giraldeau, L.A. (1996) Is social learning an adaptive specialization? pp. 107-128 in: Social Learning in Animals: The Roots of Culture, ed. by B.G. Galef, Jr and C.M. Heyes; Academic Press, New-York NY.

Lefebvre, L. (1995a) Culturally-transmitted feeding behavior in primates: evidence for accelerating learning rates. Primates 36: 227-239.

Lefebvre, L. (1995b) The opening of milk bottles by birds: evidence for accelerating learning rates, but against the wave-of-advance model of cultural transmission. Behavioural Processes 34: 43-54.

Lefebvre, L., Giraldeau, L.A. (1994) Cultural transmission in pigeons is affected by the number of tutors and bystanders present. Animal Behaviour 47: 331-337.


Giraldeau, L.A. and Lefebvre, L (1987) Scrounging prevents cultural transmission of food-finding behaviour in pigeons. Animal Behaviour 35: 387-394.

Lefebvre, L. and Spahn, D. (1987) Gray kingbird predation on small fish (Poecillia spp) crossing a sandbar. The Wilson Bulletin 99: 291-292.

Palameta, B. and Lefebvre, L. (1985) The social transmission of a food-finding technique in pigeons: what is learned? Animal Behaviour 33: 892-896.

Lefebvre, L. (1985) Stability of flock composition in urban pigeons. Auk 102: 886-888.

Lefebvre, L. (1983) Equilibrium distribution of feral pigeons at multiple food sources. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 12:11-17.

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Cite any use of the database as:
Overington, S.E., Boogert, N.J., Morand-Ferron, J., Lefebvre, L. (2009) Technical innovations drive the relationship between innovativeness and residual brain size in birds. Animal Behaviour, 78, 1001-1010.

Articles for non-specialists

Lefebvre, L. (1996) Raging Dove. Natural History 105 (12): 34-37.

Lefebvre, L. (2001) L’intelligente cervelle des oiseaux. La Recherche (Paris) 347: 42-45.

Lefebvre, L. (2002) El inteligente seso de los parajos. Mundo Cientifico (Barcelona) 230: 46-49.

Lefebvre, L. (2007) Les oiseaux banals. Québec Oiseaux, v. 18(3), pp. 46.

Last update: May 1, 2020