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Homing pigeons primarily use the sun compass rather than fixed directional visual cues in an open-field arena food-searching task



Homing pigeons primarily use the sun compass rather than fixed directional visual cues in an open-field arena food-searching task



Proceedings Of The Royal Society Of London Series B Biological Sciences. 260(1357): 59-63



Although much is now known about the navigational strategies of homing pigeons, Columba livia, much less is understood about the nature of their familiar area map. Although familiar visual landmarks are probably important, it is not yet known whether birds can pilot using the arrangement of landmarks directly, or whether landmarks merely specify sun compass directions home. In this study we develop a laboratory 'analogue' of the familiar area orientation problem, and show that pigeons primarily use sun compass information to encode the direction of a food goal, despite the presence of prominent, fixed, directional visual cues, and under both visual cue-shift and clock-shift conditions. Our results suggest that the sun compass is deeply embedded in the way pigeons represent their spatial environment.

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Accession: 008780950

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1995.0059


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