Micro Life Zone
Asked by princess3498 to Arti, Dustin, James, Steven on 23 May 2012.
Pigeons have an amazing sense of direction because of a GPS type system in their heads. Birds can ‘see’ the Earth’s magnetic field and can use it to navigate very effectively. The exact mechanism of this magnetic navigation is unclear but it appears that special neurons in the pigeon brain contain enough iron to allow it to act like a compass.
Pigeons navigate in a number of ways.
When first released they used what is referred to as their ‘navigational map’. This allows them to get an approximate position of where they are from where home is and it appears that they use smell in the first instance to find their position.
From their they use their ‘compass mechanisms’. By using the position of the sun and magnetic field of the earth, they can then get a better bearing on where they are and the direction of home.
They will also use familiar landmark navigation when they are in areas that they have been before.
There was a great program on some time ago about these different levels of navigation, and were showing how the pigeon would start by following a road and just continued to follow it when it bent or what have you, then as soon as it saw a particular silo, it took off in the exact direction of home.
Seems they are pretty clever, who said they are just ‘bird brains’.
By BRIDGE8 under license from Mangorolla CIC 2020