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Blog

The secret navigational powers of birds

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Eric Gauger studies the European robin and its “compass”

By James Dacey

Clearly, birds have the right idea by migrating to warmer climes when the winter starts to bite at high latitudes, but scientists are starting to suspect that our feathered friends may be even smarter than we first thought.

Oxford University physicist Erik Gauger told me during a recent interview for physicsworld.com that birds may possess tiny internal compasses that allow them to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field. Remarkably, some birds – including the European robin – may even be able to “see” the magnetic field lines using light-activated molecules situated in their eyes.

Gauger became interested in the avian compass after discovering that these clever devices may rely on quantum mechanics for their operation. In a recent paper in here.

You can also view a free preprint of the Physical Review Letter paper, on This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

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