PubTalk 3/2011 — Unraveling the Mystery of Avian Navigation
New research indicates that birds are listening to the landscape to find their way
By Jon Hagstrum, Research Geophysicist
- For nearly 40 years, biologists have been unable to agree on how birds find their way over great distances during homing or migrational flights
- Do birds use their olfactory senses, the Earth's magnetic field, or low-frequency acoustic (infrasonic) signals to navigate by?
- New findings indicate that birds use infrasonic signals radiated from the land surface for navigational purposes during their journeys
- Perplexing behavior by birds observed during experimental releases can be readily explained by the influences of topography and atmospheric variations on the propagation of infrasound