Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 95, Issue 2, pp 95–103 | Cite as

Normal fluctuations in the earth's magnetic field influence pigeon orientation

  • William T. Keeton
  • Timothy S. Larkin
  • Donald M. Windsor
Article

Summary

In an attempt to determine whether naturally occurring fluctuations in the earth's magnetic field influence homing pigeons' initial bearings, three series of test releases (1970, 1972, 1973) at a site 45.7 miles north of the loft were conducted under an experimental design that controlled for most extraneous variables. The mean bearings for each series showed a significant inverse correlation with the K index of magnetic activity, i.e. the bearings were more to the left when K was high. In a single series of releases at a site 43.6 miles west of the loft, the means again showed a significant inverse correlation with K. Since most of the magnetic fluctuations in all four series were less than 70 gamma, it is concluded that the sensitivity of pigeons to magnetic cues probably approaches that already demonstrated for honeybees. A brief discussion of Lamotte's (1974) paper concerning the effect of bar magnets on initial orientation is appended.

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References

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • William T. Keeton
    • 1
  • Timothy S. Larkin
    • 1
  • Donald M. Windsor
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Langmuir LaboratoryCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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