© 2005

Avian Navigation: Pigeon Homing as a Paradigm


About this book


How migratory birds can navigate home from their wintering grounds to their breeding sites over hundreds and thousands of kilometres has been an admired mystery over more than a century. Profound advances towards a solution of this problem have been achieved with a model bird, the homing pigeon. This monograph summarizes our current knowledge about pigeon homing, about the birds' application of a sun compass and a magnetic compass, of a visual topographical map within a familiar area and -- most surprisingly -- of an olfactory map using atmospheric chemosignals as indicators of position in distant unfamiliar areas.


Heimkehrvermögen, Vögel Orientierung, Vögel Tauben Vogelnavigation atmosphere bird bird navigation breeding homing magnetic field orientation, birds pigeons sun synthesis

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for OrnithologySeewiesenGermany

About the authors

Dr. Hans G. Wallraff was scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology who investigated navigation and orientation of birds over almost 50 years.

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

"With this book, Wallraff carefully reviews, in great detail, the basic categories of avian navigation signals (e.g., solar compass, geomagnetic field, visual landscape). … Most importantly, the author outlines directions for research advances in the future, especially with the study of sensory input (neural mechanisms). This technical monograph is an excellent review of scientific progress toward an understanding of avian navigation. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level graduates through faculty/researchers." (C. Leck, CHOICE, Vol. 42 (11), July, 2005)

"This book tells the fascinating story of the search for the homing mechanism in pigeons … . Intellectual honesty is a major characteristics of Wallraff, and I am sure that he would never have omitted a contribution … . The honesty of the author is also shown by the rich illustrations. … an important source of information for students active in the field of research." (Ethology, Ecology & Evolution, Vol. 17 (1), 2005)

"There is no better intellect in this complex and combative field than Wallraff. … There is no doubt that the book serves a useful purpose as a current benchmark statement of the generally prevailing view of pigeon navigation mechanisms. It will have a worthy place on research and higher-study reading lists, and in learned libraries." (Tim Guilford, IBIS, Vol. 148, 2006)