# How many Pigeons are there?

There are pigeons sitting in a queue. The first one said, "There are 4 pigeons behind me." The last one said, "There are 4 pigeons in front of me." The middle one (or, one of middle ones) said, "There are 4 pigeons in front of me and 4 pigeons behind me."

How many Pigeons are there?

• Pigeons can talk? If they can, are they trustworthy sources of information? – xnor Apr 7 '15 at 1:46
• @xnor This can also be an answer. The middle one was lying.. Haha! – user931 Apr 7 '15 at 4:39
• @Mohit I am new to this site, so I am not well acquainted with tags. – user931 Apr 7 '15 at 6:31
• Welcome to Puzzling SE! ;-) I've edited in the [lateral-thinking] tag - hope you don't mind. A word of advice: lateral-thinking questions tend not to be received well here. The best-received questions are [math] and [logic-puzzle] ones; they're like the [harry-potter] and [lord-of-the-rings] of SFF, while [riddle] is more like [story-identification]. BTW did you ask your 500th qn on SFF? – Rand al'Thor Apr 7 '15 at 10:39
• Best Username Ever – Spencerkatty May 1 '15 at 18:10

Cesar Martini has a point; we could explain this by sitting the pigeons in a circle, but that's not normally how queues work, and there would surely not be a "first" or a "last" in such a queue.

Assuming a straight queue I'm not certain it's possible to know exactly how many pigeons there are, but we can infer the following:

Just because there are four pigeons behind or in front of another there's no reason not to think there might be more. I think we can therefore only be sure that there are at least 9 pigeons.

• Maybe we infer that pigeons can't count past four. – Callidus Apr 7 '15 at 6:19
• Correct, the first and last elements would be a matter of perspective in my answer. A +1 for the explanation. – Cesar Martini Apr 7 '15 at 13:33
• there's an answer that doesn't require us to assume the pigeons are speaking so unnaturally -- i.e., saying "four" when they mean "four or more." (see my answer.) – dbliss Apr 8 '15 at 4:46
• How one can be in middle when they're in circle :-? :-o – Mox Shah Apr 8 '15 at 4:49

I believe to know the answer to this one:

The talkative pidgeons here are probably sitting on a circular queue, so the correct answer would be five.

the queue goes around the corner of a building. on one side of the building are four pigeons, and on the other side also four pigeons. precisely at the corner (so neither on one side of the building nor the other) is the middle pigeon. only the middle pigeon can see all the pigeons. the others can see only those on their side (plus the middle pigeon).

• This won't be called queue.. – user931 Apr 8 '15 at 7:08
• why do you say that? i've been on plenty of queues in my life that do exactly this. have you ever been to a popular concert in a city? – dbliss Apr 8 '15 at 15:26

There are five pigeons in the queue. The third one is cross-eyed and sees four (two) behind and ahead if the line is straight!

"Four" is the pigeonese word for "zero". There is only one pigeon, who is simultaneously the first, last and middle pigeon.

• Haha... You just made me laugh. – user931 Apr 9 '15 at 15:49

Four is the pigeonese word for "more than three" (cf. Richard Adams's Watership Down where hrair, usually translated as "five" or "a thousand", is the rabbitese word for "more than four"). So the total number of pigeons could be any number greater than or equal to nine - or, in pigeonese, the total number is four.