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Andrew Alden

More Evidence for Infrasound-Sensing Birds

By February 6, 2013

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The current issue of The Atlantic covers a recent paper on the hypothesis that homing pigeons find their way around the landscape by its soundscape. Jon Hagstrum, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, has explored this line of research in his spare time for many years, and I featured his work here in 2008. The new paper, in the Journal of Experimental Biology, explores a mystifying day in August 1969 when a batch of homing pigeons, released by researchers at a chronically "dead" hilltop in upstate New York, didn't get lost for once. (This was two days before Woodstock, by the way.) Hagstrum used weather data from that day to show that the "infrasound landscape" was shifted. Just as sometimes the atmosphere lets you listen to a distant radio station, on that day the birds could feel the right way home.

The Atlantic story, by Rebecca Rosen, is well done. So is a commentary on the paper appearing in the same issue of the journal, by Kathryn Knight.

About infrasound
Infrasound and animal navigation
Strange/religious experiences from infrasound
Atmospheric geoscience


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