The Puzzle of Olfactory Sensitivity in Birds

  • Bernice M. Wenzel


Serious, if sporadic, research on olfaction in birds has been underway for at least three decades. This current era began with Michelsen’s (1959) report of success in training pigeons to discriminate between two odors, and soon burgeoned with Bang’s (1960, 1971) landmark analyses of olfactory epithelial and bulbar sizes in all avian orders. Inspiration for these investigators came directly from Cobb (1960), who had called attention to the large variation in olfactory bulb prominence throughout Aves and urged consideration of its behavioral significance. Reports of olfactory nerve (Tucker, 1965) and bulb (Wenzel, 1966) responses, as well as respiratory and cardiac changes (Neuhaus, 1963; Wenzel, 1966), in several species to odor stimuli, and of odor tracking by Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) in the field (Stager, 1964), completed the key evidence for a functional avian olfactory system.


Olfactory Bulb Olfactory Function Olfactory Nerve European Starling Amyl Acetate 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernice M. Wenzel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUCLA School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA

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