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Catch the Pigeon

Lindsey Chapman relives and updates episodes from the Living World archives; this episode from 2008 finds Lionel Kelleway discovering the biology behind pigeon migration.

The humble pigeon is an often overlooked bird. We pass by it often without a second glance as we rush along our busy city streets, but if we stop and wonder, how does the pigeon know where it is and how does it get from A to B?

This episode from 2008 finds Lionel Kelleway discovering the biology behind pigeon migration with Oxford University's Chris Armstrong. Starting their recording at the University's Wytham Field Station Lionel meets some of the pigeons used in the study which far from being small-brained birds show they have a wide array of navigational tools at their disposal...a magnetic sense...a sun compass...a keen sense of smell. By attaching miniature GPS loggers to pigeon's backs Chris hopes to find out how they navigate home, however as Lionel finds out for himself, many aspects of a birds amazing navigational ability is still to be unravelled.

So what has happened in the last 10 years since the programme aired? Lindsey Chapman brings the story up to date by offering some recent discoveries into this fascinating research into bird migration.

Producer Andrew Dawes.

Available now

22 minutes

Broadcast

Natural Histories

Natural Histories

Nature that has had a profound impact on human culture and society across history.