Source: Nature: "Extraordinary Birds"
Major corporate support for the Nature collection was provided by Canon U.S.A. and SC Johnson. Additional support was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the nation’s public television stations.
Decades of research has been dedicated to the impressive navigation skills of homing pigeons. To explain how these pigeons are able to find their way home from unfamiliar, distant sites, scientists have arrived at various theories. These include the ideas that pigeons have a "map sense" that helps them follow roads, a solar compass and/or an ability to detect and use the earth's magnetic field. In this video segment from Nature, learn how homing pigeons are used as couriers by business owner Dave Costlow.
As hummingbirds and other bird species evolved over time, they developed a variety of traits and skills beneficial to both the birds themselves and to the continuation of their species. The vast array of hummingbird species is an example of the result of these evolutionary processes. Certain birds have developed beaks allowing them to feed at particular flowers, others have cultivated brightly colored plumage, and yet others are known for the exceptional skills at navigation. Many highly skilled bird behaviors are innate - certain bird species are born with these abilities, as is the case of the homing pigeon’s innate homing ability. Scientists often do not know how these skills have been acquired in the population, except to note that these traits became advantageous for the birds as their populations evolved in their respective environments.
The amazing abilities of homing pigeons remain a mystery. Scientists believe they possess a solar compass in combination with geomagnetic sensors. They may even use scent to navigate.
Costlow – There’s considerable controversy on how pigeons actually home. There’s something about the bird that allows them to detect the magnetic fields of the earth. There’s obviously other cues they also use.
Dave Costlow knows what he’s talking about. He’s employing pigeons everyday in his rafting company, Rocky Mountain Adventures, in Fort Collins, Colorado.
As rafters ride down the Cache le Poudre River, Megan Apfel shoots the action for Rocky Mountain Adventures. This gives customers a way to relive their run through the rapids.
Now to get the film back for processing in time for the rafters to see their photos. It’s twenty-five miles back to town over twisting mountain roads, and Megan must get set for the next rafters already heading downstream.
The answer? Pigeon film couriers.
Megan loads a roll of film into a stretchy Lycra backpack and the pigeon is up and away.
Costlow calls it the Pigeon Express, and to carry his cargo, he uses birds specially bred for homing. But even the best required initial coaching.
Training flights began at the end of the day, taking advantage of the birds’ instincts to roost. Short flights were increased fifty yards at a time as the birds progressed.
Costlow -- When they were able to fly faster than we could drive home, we added more mileage until they were flying distances we wanted them to quite successfully.
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We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.