[extropy-chat] pigeons

scerir scerir at libero.it
Sun Feb 8 14:09:00 UTC 2004

"Secret" of homing pigeons revealed

-- LONDON, England, Feb. 6, (Reuters) --

The secret of carrier pigeons' uncanny ability to find their
way home has been discovered by British scientists: The feathered
navigators follow the roads just like we do.

Researchers at Oxford University spent 10 years studying homing pigeons
using Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites and were stunned to find
the birds often don't navigate by taking bearing from the sun.

Instead they fly along motorways, turn at junctions and even go around
roundabouts, adding miles to their journeys, British newspapers reported.

"It really has knocked our research team sideways" Professor Tim Guilford
said in the Daily Telegraph.

"It is striking to see the pigeons fly straight down the A34 Oxford bypass,
and then sharply curve off at the traffic lights before curving off again at
the roundabout" he said.

Guilford said pigeons use their own navigational system when doing
long-distance trips or when a bird does a journey for the first time.

But when they have flown a journey more than once they home in on an
habitual route home.

"In short it looks like it is mentally easier for a bird to fly down a
road...they are just making their journey as simple as possible."

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