Navigation of Single Homing Pigeons: Airplane Observations by Radio Tracking

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Science  21 Oct 1966:
Vol. 154, Issue 3747, pp. 410-413
DOI: 10.1126/science.154.3747.410


Navigation of homing pigeons was investigated by tracking their homeward flights from a light airplane. Released on successive days from a single training point 35 miles (56 kilometers) from home, individual pigeons, each carrying a transmitter, were repeatedly tracked back to theirloft. No two tracks covered the same ground for even short distances, yet all tracks were within 10 miles of a straight line. Results from further releases north and south of the training point suggest that pigeons often use three methods in sequence to find home: compass orientation, bi-coordinate navigation, and orientation by familiar landmarks.