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Magnetic Field Responsible?

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zavvy

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<b>1,500 Homing Pigeons Get Lost During Race</b><br /><br />STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Organizers of a race for homing pigeons were still scratching their heads in wonder Thursday after about 1,500 of the birds, famous for their ability to find their way home, went missing during the contest. <br /><br />Of the 2,000 pigeons let loose last week, only about 500 have returned to their lofts after the 150-kilometer (93 mile) flight between the cities of Ljungby and Malmoe in southern Sweden, said Lars-Aake Nilsson of the Malmoe Homing Pigeon Club. <br /><br />"The weather was perfect — no rain, no thunder and no strong winds," he said. <br /><br />In past races, the birds, all of which sport electronic identification tags around their feet, made the journey in about two hours. <br /><br />But at Sunday's race, something went wrong. <br /><br />"I have worked with pigeons since 1960 and have never experienced anything like this," Nilsson said, adding that the birds might have been thrown off course by subtle changes in the earth's magnetic field. <br /><br />The pigeons have a natural homing instinct and are believed to navigate by the sun and the magnetic waves of the earth, Nilsson said. <br /><br />"And even though some are lost to hawks or hazards like power lines along the way, many more should have made it back home. It's a mystery," he added. <br /><br />He said there have been no reported sightings of the missing birds anywhere in southern Sweden. He declined to say how much the birds were worth. <br /><br />"It's not so much the economic value as it is a loss to the sport," Nilsson said. "It takes about two years to breed a racing pigeon." <br /><br />LINK
 
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CalliArcale

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It's possible, but one thing that might cast doubt on the theory is that a recent study demonstrated that while pigeons are sensitive to the magnetic field and can use it for navigational purposes, they usually don't bother -- they usually just follow landmarks on the ground. Basically, they put tracking devices on the pigeons, and found that none of them went straight home. They mostly followed highways and rivers. Frankly, I find that *more* impressive than magnetic navigation, because it means they've got a pretty sophisticated awareness of themselves and their surroundings. They clearly understand geography in a way similar to humans. It's amazing.<br /><br />I hope they find the birds. If they were confused by magnetic fields or something else foiling their navigational skills, it'll help scientists to better understand how they navigate. Plus, I'm sure their owners miss them terribly. Many pigeon trainers develop very close bonds with their birds. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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zavvy

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<i>From the article</i>:<br /><font color="yellow">the birds, all of which sport electronic identification tags around their feet....</font><br /><br />I wonder if this fact has anything to do with it?<br /><br /><br /><br />
 
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CalliArcale

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Probably not; I believe that's standard practise, and it hasn't disrupted the birds on other occasions. But what if it did? That'd be interesting, because it would mean that something about this particular event affected the tags differently and unexpectedly. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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zavvy

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<font color="yellow">But what if it did? That'd be interesting, because it would mean that something about this particular event affected the tags differently and unexpectedly. </font><br /><br />It's quite a mystery really, isn't it? I'll keep an eye on the story and check for updates. Stuff like this fascinates me... <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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siarad

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I recall a few decades back that magnets were put on homing pigeons to disrupt them. Well they still got home & further some were transported to the southern hemisphere to magnetically confuse them but they still flew in a homeward direction not reversed as was postulated. Magnets have been found even in human brains & we do have a homing instinct too. An experiment undertaken by a British Uni. about 25 years ago took students 20 miles from the Uni. & then asked them to point in the Uni. direction & say how far it was. Surprisingly most were quite accurate & yes they were blindfolded & the journey deliberately confusing . Carol Mather, now Vorderman was in the program I recall I wonder if she does. She's on UK channel 4 Countdown.
 
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