Posted: Mar 20, 2013 7:06 PM by Pat Shingleton
A resident bird watcher convinced me that when we experience our last robin, in South Louisiana, get ready for the heat. The traditional swallows have returned to Capistrano, the buzzards have arrived in Hinckley, Ohio and we're on the look-out for the purple martins. As noted in a previous column, it was once believed that homing pigeons relied on the sun's position to decipher Earth's magnetic field for navigation. Years ago, researchers at Oxford University used tiny tracking devices, equipped with global positioning systems, to track pigeons over a three year period. They discovered that within ten kilometers of home, the pigeons followed roads, rivers, railways and hedge lines, even when it wasn't the most direct path home. Scientists believe the birds consistently followed a memorized route.