Conical Cage

Great Bird Navigators - Page 1

Many migratory birds are remarkably faithful to previous nesting and overwintering places. Though a bird might be able to come close to these site merely by flying in a general direction during the course of migration, at some point more sophisticated navigating techniques must take over to guide the bird to its precise destination.

Many animals are able to find their way home. One way of doing this is to directly sense the goal -- to see, hear, or smell it. Another way is to memorize the details of the outward journey and then reverse the route based on an integration of that information. Birds, however, apparently rely on a completely different process to find their way.

From the ink pad on the bottom of this orientation cage, a bird makes tracks to the northeast, a course it would normally fly during spring migration. By rotating visual cues, it is possible to trick the bird into selecting the wrong direction.

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