By Hans G. Wallraff
How migratory birds can navigate domestic from their wintering grounds to their breeding websites over thousands and millions of kilometres has been an favorite secret over greater than a century. Profound advances in the direction of an answer of this challenge were accomplished with a version chicken, the homing pigeon. This monograph summarizes our present wisdom approximately pigeon homing, concerning the birds' software of a sunlight compass and a magnetic compass, of a visible topographical map inside a well-known region and -- so much strangely -- of an olfactory map utilizing atmospheric chemosignals as signs of place in far-off strange areas.
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Additional info for Avian Navigation: Pigeon Homing as a Paradigm
Empirical data obtained in various regions are scarce. Using single or only few release sites very far away from home, it is difficult to ascertain whether directional preferences compatible with homeward orientation do actually indicate correct determination of the current position. I assume that the range within which pigeon navigation continuously operates covers several hundred kilometres in many regions, in some regions perhaps more than a thousand kilometres. According to present knowledge (Sect.
Spontaneously, and preferably in flocks, they fly in circles and loops in the close vicinity of the loft, sometimes achieving considerable height above ground. The spatial range of these spontaneous flights is not exactly known [but should now be ascertainable by GPS tracking (Sect. 3; see Biro et al. 2002)]. ) may be reached. 1 Homing of Inexperienced Pigeons 27 Clearly, these exercises habituate the young pigeons to skilful flying, which is a precondition to home over long distances. In addition, flying around gives them an opportunity to becoming familiar with an aerial view of their home site and its closer vicinity.
18B). Less coherent are the data that have been reported on initial orientation (Fig. 18A). In the series of experiments around Wilhelmshaven, on which Fig. Very weak rhythmicity, parallel to homing performance, was indicated in southern Germany and Italy. It is not quite clear why at the other German loft sites annual periodicity was only weak or lacking. Possibly the initial bearings were too much determined by directional preferences that are independent of seasonally variable environmental cues indicating the current position (Sect.