Birds Found to Use Stars to Navigate
by Carol A. Kennedy
Posted on June 3, 2002
Two Danish researchers recently discovered that birds use star patterns to navigate at night.
Henrik Mouritsen and Ole Naesbye Larsen placed 34 pied flycatchers and 20 blackcaps in a planetarium in Aarhus, Denmark and showed them different views of the night sky.
The birds, which migrate at night, responded to each new view by changing their positions in such a way that they would have remained on course had they been migrating.
Young birds were for some time thought to acquire navigation skills by observing their parents. However, studies revealed that many young birds managed to migrate successfully without the help of their elders.
A number of recent studies have shown that birds use landmarks as well as stars — and the sun — to navigate.
Finding the Way
Planetarium Reveals Birds' Night Navigation
© 2002 Animal News Center, Inc.
- Reprinted with Permission.