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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I am just wondering if anyone has read any interesting research articles (and where to find them) on the pigeon's ability to home and/or the importance of eye sign and its presumptive link to this ability.

Thank you:D

Stacie
 

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Never seen one although I have read once (I don't remember where) that there is no correlation between eye sign and navigation. I even questioned whether that was even a valid scientific experiments. There was, however, an experiment where they blindfolded pigeons and let them fly to their loft. The pigeons got to their loft, but they obviously can't land (they got close to their loft). The experiment concluded that pigeons use other mechanisms for homing other than using their eyes. On another experiment or maybe the same experiments (I don't remember exactly), pigeons not blind folded got to their loft quicker than those not. So having able to see can help pigeons navigate as well.
 

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Theres a pigeon documentary on the national geographic channel every now and then called "Pigeon Genius" that goes over a few different sides of the subject. Awesome film/show.
 

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in the book "animal navigation" they speculate that sense of smell is part of homing instinct, says that that "certain biologist found that pigeons whose sense of smell is nonfunctional are less successful at returning to their loft from unfamiliar release point than normal once. Close to to home this effect is minor but increases sharply for distances of more than few kilometers"
 

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Magnetic fields, memory, landmarks, smell, position of the sun - there's a ton of things pigeons can use to get home. Probably why they are so good at it. The 'blindfolded' experiment was very interesting. Some of them even managed to land on the roof. That's pretty crazy. In Pigeon Genius, they disabled their sense of smell and lost a lot of birds. They disabled their magnetic sense (based on the chip being only in the beak) and lost some birds too. I think they use a variety, not just one thing. But the biggest thing in my opinion, is the magnetic fields. If they only went by smell, the sun, and/or memory, you'd think all pigeons would be able to home. I think intelligence has a lot to do with it too. Being able to retain a lot of info.

Eyesign on the other hand, in my opinion, is total BS. Or at least mostly. Nothing I have read has given me any reason to believe it or practice it. I think there are much more important factors in choosing/making good birds than that. The only merit it has is that the red "mountainous" part of the iris ARE blood vessels. Lots of blood and oxygen up there. But just because there's a good amount of it in the eyes, does not mean the rest of the body is just as strong.
 

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Eye colors are genetic. As far as eyesign, I suppose it is too, since everything is genetic. There are only two eye colors - pearl and orange - and then there are variations of them and modifiers (like albino and bull eyes - which change the appearance but the eye is still genetically pearl or orange).
Pearl is recessive, orange is dominant. Some people say "mate an orange eye to a pearl eye to get strong pearl eyes, mate two pearls together and get weak eyes". That's a myth. There's nothing different between the two. To get a pearl eye, you need two genes for it. Doesn't matter where the genes come from, whether it is two pearls, or a pearl and an orange that is carrying it.
 

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Lots of reading and common sense :D Here's a good article on eye color genetics, and some eyesign stuff (scroll down to eye colors)http://www.angelfire.com/ga/huntleyloft/Page1.html:


And yes, some people do cull based on eyesign. I know some people who pick out their breeders and cull only on eyesign. It's ridiculous.
 

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Culling is not always lethal. Basically it means that birds won't be kept as breeding stock.
Eye sign seems pretty unlikely to me too.
I would like to see an experiment where birds were rated by eyesign and then the results of flying them were correlated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the useful info everyone! I was just curious to see different experiments that have been done to try and discover this unique ability. It is interesting!
 

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Magnetic fields, memory, landmarks, smell, position of the sun - there's a ton of things pigeons can use to get home. Probably why they are so good at it. The 'blindfolded' experiment was very interesting. Some of them even managed to land on the roof. That's pretty crazy. In Pigeon Genius, they disabled their sense of smell and lost a lot of birds. They disabled their magnetic sense (based on the chip being only in the beak) and lost some birds too. I think they use a variety, not just one thing. But the biggest thing in my opinion, is the magnetic fields. If they only went by smell, the sun, and/or memory, you'd think all pigeons would be able to home. I think intelligence has a lot to do with it too. Being able to retain a lot of info.

Eyesign on the other hand, in my opinion, is total BS. Or at least mostly. Nothing I have read has given me any reason to believe it or practice it. I think there are much more important factors in choosing/making good birds than that. The only merit it has is that the red "mountainous" part of the iris ARE blood vessels. Lots of blood and oxygen up there. But just because there's a good amount of it in the eyes, does not mean the rest of the body is just as strong.
I, too, believe the homing ability must be multifactorial and intelligence surely plays a role. I got my first homers recently and their intelligence is stunning! It was the first thing I noticed about these homers. They are super smart!
Not that my other pigeons aren't bright but the homers are in a class of their own.
 

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One thing that folks forget when talking about homing instinct is desire. A mediocre bird with one heck of a desire will out fly an unmotivated great bird. We saw this during training two of our young birds started to get ... affectionate. We have one hen that is a rocket and is always at the front. We have a second hen that is more pet than race bird who managed to get tangled with a cat (all better now). One of the cocks decided that Gertrude (the pet hen) was the cat's meow and for the entire time that she was convalescent that cock was the first one back and the first one through the trap. Once Gerty was back in the air he went back to the laziest bird around.

I know one bird is not a standard, but if this wasn't really a factor, why do folks fly widowhood?

Just a thought.
 

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Yes, motivation is definitely a factor of whether or not a homer chooses to come home. If the birds are stressed out in their loft and do not feel comfortable, they will leave. Doesn't matter if they are homers or not, they'll find somewhere more suitable. Pigeons are pretty practical birds.

And there are always followers and leaders, especially in young birds, who are mostly followers. If you watch a flock of homers, you'll usually notice someone who wants to go in a different direction, so they will...and then all the others about run into each other to follow them. I've had some birds that seem to prefer flying by themselves. They don't care if no one will go with them, they just go. It's also interesting to see them have arguments over where to go. You'll have a few different leaders that want to go different directions. So the flock will go back and forth in spastic movements until finally someone makes the ultimate decision, or they break away. You can only hope your birds are independent enough to break away on race day instead of wasting time following everyone else.

And thank you Jaysen :D
 
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