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Experientia

, Volume 50, Issue 7, pp 697–700 | Cite as

A magnetic pulse leads to a temporary deflection in the orientation of migratory birds

  • W. Wiltschko
  • U. Munro
  • R. C. Beason
  • H. Ford
  • R. Wiltschko
Research Articles

Abstract

Migratory Australian Silvereyes were treated with a strong magnetic pulse designed to alter the magnetization of the small magnetite particles that are found in birds' heads. Prior to the treatment, the birds preferred the northeasterly migratory direction. The pulse initially resulted in a 90° clockwise shift of orientation; however, within about a week, the birds seemed to return to their original headings. These findings, which seem to suggest an involvement of magnetite in migratory orientation, are in contrast with previous findings which indicated that it is a light-dependent process. They are discussed in view of the current concepts on magnetoreception and on the role of magnetic information in avian orientation.

Key words

Bird migration orientation magnetic field magnetite magnetoreception Silvereye Zosterops l. lateralis 

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Wiltschko
    • 1
  • U. Munro
    • 2
  • R. C. Beason
    • 3
  • H. Ford
    • 2
  • R. Wiltschko
    • 1
  1. 1.Fachbereich Biologie der Universität Frankfurt a.M., ZoologieFrankfurt a.M.(Germany)
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  3. 3.Department of BiologyState University College of Arts and ScienceGeneseoUSA

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