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How do birds navigate When they face north their brains do something incredible

Awashima Island’s coast, a two-month-old streaked shearwater chicken huddled with its siblings. It was getting colder. Soon, the white-and-brown-winged family would navigate over 4,000 miles of foreign terrain and featureless ocean until arriving in Australia. The vacation will have to wait for now.

Doshisha University and Nagoya University neuroscientists and ecologists approached the burrow. They were curious about the chick’s travel plans. Blue Birds in Michigan They were particularly curious about how does the chick know where she’s going?

Birds use magnetic fields to navigate over long distances

Scientists have not been asking birds for answers before. In 1942, William Keeton received his first homing bird from his parents for his ninth birthday. The regal bird was a treasured possession and he forwent school work and chores to train it. The bird won very few races. This shame at such an early age can drive someone to become a scientist.

Keeton, then a Cornell University professor of biology, was strapping magnets onto pigeons in 1965. Keeton believed that navigation was essential because previous research had shown that certain animals align their bodies with magnetic fields. Keeton was right. The polarized Pigeons were at best clumsy navigators.

Researchers studied howmigratory bird

detect magnetic fields over the next few decades. Most scientists disapproved of the notion that birds concealed a compass beneath their wings. This would be absurd. The compass or rather the magnetically sensitive proteins was hidden in the brains and eyes of birds.

This seems like the end of the story at first glance. Birds navigate using magnetic fields and have a protein that detects them. One question remains: How can birds convert a magnetic field to direction. The scientists hope the streaked shearwater chicken could provide an answer to this question.

From magnets, to a neurologger

The scientists had to observe the activity of the medial pallium while the birds navigated in order to test their hypothesis. They attached a small device, called a “neurologger”, to the birds. While wild birds roam, the 6-gram device records the electrophysiological activity in the medial pallium wirelessly.

The first phase of the experiment saw the chicks being birdnapped explore a small cage that was located 2.5 km (1.5 mi) southwest of their burrow. Scientists discovered that 20% of cells in the medial palelium produced rapid electrical signals when the birds were facing north. However, the activity was not apparent when the bird looked in other directions.

The nest of the chicks was

located northeast of the cage. This could indicate that the medial pallium may be active as the birds were facing home. The researchers then moved the chicks into a new cage that was 1 km (0.6 mi) north of their burrows. The medial pallium buzzed once again when the bird pointed towards the north.

Together, magnetically sensitive proteins detect magnet waves and the medial pallium assigns directions to those magnetic waves. Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear  The bird then uses those directions as a guide to determine where to go. This raises a new question: “How does he use those directions to decide where he wants to go?” More research is needed.

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