What factors influence a homing pigeon’s ability to get home?

Question by Curious Rattie: What factors influence a homing pigeon’s ability to get home?
Yes or no to:
1. Music (at home he listens to a single song repeated, on his flight he hears same song)
2. Smell (a patch of wildflowers grows nearby)
3. Sight (a landmark tree)

Any others?

Best answer:

Answer by Roger S
1.) No. 10 miles from home the pigeon can’t possibly hear the song.
FYI: Birds can’t recognize music if it is played in a different key to the one they learned it in.

2.) No. Most birds don’t posses a sense of smell. This allows a great horned owl to hunt skunks. The turkey vulture does have a keen sense of smell, however.

3.) Yes. Pigeons use landmarks just like drivers do.

////////////////// Three most important homing pigeon navigational aids

#1 = the rest of the flock. Inexperienced birds follow older ones which know all the landmarks, not to mention any possible hazards like falcons, hunters or cats. Elephants do the same. The leader of the group is the oldest cow, called the matriarch.

#2 = memory & landmarks (see above).

#3 = magnetic fields. Besides landmarks, pigeons have an internal compass in their brains and always know which direction they are flying relative to the earth’s magnetic field. Tiny particles of Iron act like magnets in certain parts of the pigeon’s brain. They align themselves to the magnetic field around the bird and relay this information to it to keep it on course.

//////////////// DYK??

The pigeon’s major predator is the peregrine falcon. The peregrine is probably the fastest bird on earth. It hunts by circling high in the sky like a vulture. Once it spots a flock, it dives straight down, achieving a top speed of 200mph. This out maneuvers any attempt by the pigeon to swerve or dive to avoid an attack. The falcon literally uses its victim as a parachute to slow down to flying speed. However, the pigeon has evolved a special undercoat of downy feathers on its back. They are very loosely attached to the skin and the falcon is likely to simply grab a bunch of feathers instead of hooking the pigeon. This is basically the same mechanism fish employ by coating their scales with slippery mucous.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

One Response to “What factors influence a homing pigeon’s ability to get home?”

  1. Robin Hobb says:


    REALITY=weather, experience, good breeding

Powered by Yahoo! Answers