How do pigeons find their way home?

Pigeons are talented navigators: They can find their way back over hundreds of miles, but we still do not know exactly how they navigate. A project to find out just how pidgeons do this was funded by the Supporting Members' donations in 2014.

Birds are generally considered to have a poor sense of smell. Behavioural biologists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology use an innovative experiment and a special set of tools to demonstrate in free-flying pigeons (never before done in real-time) that birds do, in fact, use their sense of smell during navigation. Not only that, they can even demonstrate in which regions of the brain these processes take place – a minor methodological revolution, given that this would be the first measurement of brain activity in free-moving vertebrates. We are delighted at the assistance being provided by the Supporting Members and will be reporting on developments as they happen.

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