Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



The Journal of Experimental Biology 206, 1773-1778



© 2003 The Company of Biologists Ltd. Used by permission.

The manuscript was prepared in part whilst supported by NIMH grant number MH61810 at the University of Lincoln, Nebraska.


The question of whether homing pigeons use visual landmarks for orientation from distant, familiar sites is an unresolved issue in the field of avian navigation. Where evidence has been found, the question still remains as to whether the landmarks are used independent of the map and compass mechanism for orientation that is so important to birds. Recent research has challenged the extent to which experiments that do not directly manipulate the visual sense can be used as evidence for compass-independent orientation. However, it is proposed that extending a new technique for research on vision in homing to include manipulation of the compasses used by birds might be able to resolve this issue. The effect of the structure of the visual sense of the homing pigeon on its use of visual landmarks is also considered.