Orientation of pigeons exposed to constant light and released from familiar sites

Physiology & Behavior
P Dall'Antonia, P Luschi


It has been proposed that homing pigeons may use pilotage to orient home when released from familiar sites. To test this possibility, a group of pigeons was released from familiar locations after being exposed to a constant bright light. This treatment produced the loss of the circadian rhythmicity of general activity of the birds and thus presumably impaired their time-compensating sun compass mechanism. Experimental birds, both anosmic and olfactorily unimpaired, did not show any tendency to orient home, their bearing distributions being generally not different from random. Their homing performances were also affected. These results show that initial orientation of pigeons released from familiar sites entails the use of the sun compass even when the birds are released after a treatment that makes them arrhythmic in their activity. The possibility that pilotage may play a role in the first part of the homing flight of pigeons remains to be demonstrated.


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Related Concepts

Circadian Rhythms
Homing Behavior
Psychological Orientation
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