Avian Navigation: Pigeon Homing as a Paradigm by Hans G. Wallraff

By Hans G. Wallraff

How migratory birds can navigate domestic from their wintering grounds to their breeding websites over hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands of kilometres has been an favorite secret over greater than a century. Profound advances in the direction of an answer of this challenge were completed with a version chook, the homing pigeon. This monograph summarizes our present wisdom approximately pigeon homing, in regards to the birds' software of a sunlight compass and a magnetic compass, of a visible topographical map inside of a well-known sector and -- such a lot unusually -- of an olfactory map utilizing atmospheric chemosignals as signs of place in far-off unexpected areas.

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When released at a third site, aside from the line connecting the lofts and about 15–20 km distant 48 3 Basic Features of Pigeon Homing from either one, it depended on their state of hunger whether they flew immediately to the one or to the other loft. As distances were fairly short and the pigeons’ familiarity with the area not quite clear, it is unknown whether the birds found their way (primarily) by visual piloting or by true navigation (Sects. 2). Such questions are also unsettled in the case of mobile lofts which in former years were often used for military purposes.

3 Temporal Variability Pigeon homing varies depending not only on the site of release (Sect. 1) and on the individual bird’s previous homing experience (Sect. 2), but also on time. The directions chosen at departure vary from day to day, to a different amount at different sites (see Fig. 3), and also homing performance varies considerably. 16 illustrates that the greatest differences in homing speed and return rate have been observed among experiments conducted in summer and winter. Therefore, seasonal fluctuations shall first be inspected.

However, with asymmetric training patterns comparing birds experienced in homing from sites distributed within opposed semicircles, pronounced directional differences were found at the edge sites common to both semicircles and also at more distant sites outside of the training range (Graue 1965). Such effects of directional training, even if not intended by the experimenter, need to be considered as possible sources of directional preferences which interfere with, and modify, the outputs of the navigational process referring to the spatial relationship between current release site and home site (Sect.

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