Migrating birds 'mysteriously' detect latitude and longitude

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New York, Feb 4(UNI) Ornithologists have challenged the notion that birds are limited in their navigation skills only in the north-south direction.

New evidence from the study of Eurasian migrating birds 'Reed Warblers' suggested that migrating birds can determine geographic latitude. However, how they do it still remains a mystery.

Eurasian Reed Warblers corrected their travel routes even after being flown 1000 km east, establishing that these birds were able to correct east-west displacements. The research suggests that the birds can identify at least two coordinates that roughly correspond to geographic latitude and longitude.

''Eurasian 'Reed Warblers' captured during their spring migrations and released after being flown corrected their travel routes and head for their original destinations,'' Science Daily quoted the researchers as saying.

''We have experimentally shown beyond reasonable doubt that long-distance, intercontinental avian migrants can correct for east-west displacements during their return migration in spring,'' said Nikita Chernetsov of the Biological Station Rybachy at the Zoological Institute in Russia.

''This means that they can determine geographic longitude, even though we do not currently know how they do it,'' he said.

Many previous experiments performed with young birds on their first autumn migration have suggested that the young birds rely on a very simple navigation strategy, yet few experiments had been performed on more experienced birds during the return migration in spring.

After the researchers dropped the birds off many kilometers to the east, the Reed Warblers corrected for their displacement by shifting their orientation from the northeast at the capture site to the northwest, it reported.


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