By Hans G. Wallraff
How migratory birds can navigate domestic from their wintering grounds to their breeding websites over 1000s and millions of kilometres has been an well-known secret over greater than a century. Profound advances in the direction of an answer of this challenge were accomplished with a version poultry, the homing pigeon. This monograph summarizes our present wisdom approximately pigeon homing, in regards to the birds' software of a solar compass and a magnetic compass, of a visible topographical map inside of a well-recognized zone and -- so much unusually -- of an olfactory map utilizing atmospheric chemosignals as signs of place in far away unexpected areas.
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Additional info for Avian Navigation: Pigeon Homing as a Paradigm
Filled symbols Sun visible; open symbols overcast. Numbers give the resulting homeward components. g. Keeton 1973) or follow a shift based on general rather than local experience (Wallraff 1959a). Some alteration observed in a second release at a given site need not always be due to previous experience of location-specific signals. If only one of the two groups had been released in the example of Fig. 14B, one might have concluded that local experience has reduced the release-site bias, although the deviation from the direction flown earlier was obviously due to directional training from other sites.
Thus, a bird must be able to collect and memorize relevant data characterizing two or more geographic positions and to choose one of these positions as a current target. Homing pigeons are rarely confronted with this problem. It is difficult but possible to accustom them to a second home site after they have been living over several months or years in a given loft. If a pigeon fancier buys an adult pigeon from another fancier, he or she has to confine the bird in an aviary over a prolonged period of time and, nevertheless, even after years runs the risk that the bird returns to its old loft.
If a sample of birds as a whole is well oriented towards home, a strong influence of the previous release is less likely to occur than if current homeward orientation is weak. This correlation may be considered trivial because the birds cannot be well-oriented towards two diverging directions. Yet it raises the question for the causal relationship. Do the pigeons appear to be poorly homeward oriented because they simply prefer to reproduce their previous homing direction, or do they decide on this formerly correct direction because they have difficulties in determining the currently correct direction towards home?