NZ Scientists Solve Pigeon Puzzle
Scientists at Auckland University have solved the enduring mystery of homing pigeons. “We are now confident that pigeons … use the intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field to determine position during homing,” said Dr Todd Dennis, who led the research. Dennis and his team released homing pigeons in an area of NZ where the Earth’s magnetic field is naturally distorted, known as the Auckland Junction Magnetic Anomaly. They predicted that, if the intensity of the magnetic field influenced the birds’ ability to position themselves, they would be confused by the anomaly upon release. Proving the team’s theory, the birds flew up to four kilometres in the wrong direction before redirecting themselves towards their loft. The study has since been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society journal.