By Hans G. Wallraff

How migratory birds can navigate domestic from their wintering grounds to their breeding websites over 1000s and hundreds of thousands of kilometres has been an trendy 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, concerning the birds' software of a solar compass and a magnetic compass, of a visible topographical map inside a well-recognized quarter and -- such a lot strangely -- of an olfactory map utilizing atmospheric chemosignals as signs of place in far away unexpected areas.

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In contrast to PCD influences, such deflections do not produce a regular regional pattern but add local effects disturbing the regularity. g. attraction by a nearby village or avoidance to overfly a wooded area) contribute to the release-site biases. 4. After-effect of previous homing flights (Sect. 2). Especially little-experienced pigeons retain some tendency towards a direction they had flown while homing last time from another site. While this tendency itself depends on the individual bird’s history, the very variable degree of its expression may depend also on local conditions at the release site.

A Home loft at Andechs near Munich, Germany; B home loft at Ospedaletto near Pisa, Italy. (Data from Foà et al. 1984) dency to fly westward may have been stronger than the tendency to fly homeward. A decision on whether or not the pigeons’ vanishing bearings reveal some knowledge about the direction of home at all can only be achieved by summarizing a number of releases conducted at symmetrically distributed sites (Fig. 4, diagram ‘Home’). It is obvious that a loft-specific preferred compass direction (PCD), as resulting from the data in Fig.

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. Improvement of initial homeward orientation is usually observed in successions of releases from always the same site (Matthews 1963a; Kowalski and Wiltschko 1987). Considering some of the aspects discussed below (Sect. 3, Chap.

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