Homing to Würzburg: An Interim Report on Long-Term Analyses of Pigeon Navigation

  • H. G. Wallraff
Part of the Proceedings in Life Sciences book series (LIFE SCIENCES)


Inexperienced as well as experienced pigeons, untreated as well as deprived of olfaction, were released at up to 34 sites symmetrically distributed around Würzburg (Germany) at distances ranging from 7 to 180 km. The pattern of their initial flight courses is most strikingly characterized by a preferred compass direction (PCD) pointing towards WNW. Homeward orientation is better in experienced than in inexperienced pigeons at distances lower than 100 km, but not at longer distances. Except within a short radius around home (less than 30 km), olfaction appears to be a necessary precondition for initial homeward orientation. It is argued that deviations from a directly homeward pointing course need not be caused by site-specific peculiarities, but may rather result from the mode in which the birds’ navigational mechanism operates.


Release Site Initial Orientation Interim Report Pigeon Homing Behav Ecol 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. G. Wallraff
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für VerhaltensphysiologieSeewiesenGermany

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