Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 189–193 | Cite as

Calibration of the sun compass by sunset polarized light patterns in a migratory bird

  • John B. Phillips
  • Frank R. Moore


Migrating birds derive compass information from the sun, stars, geomagnetic field and polarized light, but relatively little is known about how these multiple sources of directional information are integrated into a functional orientation system. We found that migratory warblers exposed to a rotated polarized light pattern at sunset oriented at a constant angle to the axis of polarization. When polarized light cues were eliminated, this shifted orientation was maintained relative to the setting sun. Polarized light patterns, thus, appear to provide a calibration reference for the sun compass in nocturnal migrants, and may also play a role in calibrating other compass systems.


Multiple Source Directional Information Migratory Bird Constant Angle Orientation System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • John B. Phillips
    • 1
  • Frank R. Moore
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA

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