Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Avian Navigation

Pigeons were fitted with mini Ticka watch cameras in 1908 by Dr Julius Neubronner to take aerial photos.
Aug 2017, BBC
Researchers from the universities of Oxford, Barcelona and Pisa temporarily removed seabirds' sense of smell before tracking their movements. … They found the birds could navigate normally over land, but appeared to lose their bearings over the sea. … This suggests that they use a map of smells to find their way when there are no visual cues.

Is there ever such thing as an animal that doesn’t use smell to navigate? Or anything for that matter? Humans use smell to “navigate.” We find the nipple by smell. We find mates by smell. (This is one of the few things about “pheromones” that’s unequivocally evidenced – it’s not the pheromones, and besides we don’t have pheromone receptors, but we do tend to like smells from people with compatible immune systems.) I really love how Alexandra Horowitz, in her book Being A Dog, describes the dog actively mapping its environment by its smells. I like how pet detectives find your escaped cat by drizzling your own urine outside your apartment complex so they have a point of familiarity to home-in on. And how could you not love this Florida woman who bottled her own scent so she could be found later as an Alzheimer’s wanderer.

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