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Bird Expert | Bird•B•Gone Blog

Posts Tagged ‘bird expert’

New study overturns prevailing theory of how birds navigate

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Article Shared From: Bird Watching Daily

Posted Wed, Apr 11 2012 11:47 AM by Matt Mendenhall

Scientists have thrown cold water on the theory that iron-rich nerve cells in birds’ bills help them navigate using Earth’s magnetic field.

Researchers from Austria, France, Australia, and England, writing in a new study published today in Nature, report that iron-rich cells in the bills of pigeons are in fact specialized white blood cells called macrophages. Macrophages play a vital role in defending against infection and recycling iron from red blood cells, but they’re unlikely to be involved in magnetic sensing, the scientists say. That’s because they are not excitable cells and cannot produce electrical signals that could be registered by neurons and therefore influence a bird’s behavior.
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