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How Are Pigeons So Good At Navigation?

| Filed under: Science!Birds

Pigeon Smell Direction

Did you know pigeons are considered the most intelligent bird?

It's their incredible ability to navigate that makes the bird most impressive.

An interesting fact about pigeons is that even if they are released thousands of miles away from their home, they will return back to their roost.

So, what is it that makes them navigate so accurately? Do they follow road signs or do they navigate by use of the earth’s magnetic field?

A study was conducted using a flock of 31 pigeons were selected that had been hand-raised in Pisa, Italy. Scientists inserted small, rubbery plugs into either their left or right nostril. When these pigeons were released 42 km away from their home, they managed to come back safely. But the ones with their left nostril plugged made it back much faster.

This finding suggests that pigeons rely mainly on their distinctive olfactory sense and their ability to recognize odors when they navigate.

Their sense of direction is special - but something humans should not take advantage of.

[Image via WENN.]

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