Animal Navigation Fun Facts — Part 1

Think humans are good at navigation? Think again. Compared to some of the mesmerizing navigational abilities of birds and other species, human navigation is actually quite primitive. Each Monday for the next few weeks we will be posting facts about animal navigation from Nature’s Compass: The Mystery of Animal Navigation by James L. Gould and Carol Grant Gould.

Bird Fact: Many birds are able to navigate back to their nests after a few preliminary first flights. James and Carol Gould explain, “Taken to a new home after just one or two brief outings and confined for up to several years, pigeons will nevertheless generally return to their natal loft at the first opportunity.” Could any of you make your way home as a toddler? It turns out that many creatures can cover thousands of miles in mental maps using landmarks, and not just those they see but those that they hear. For example, birds use the noise of the winds passing over the Rocky Mountains as an auditory landmark.

Bonus fact: Ants can navigate the Sahara desert by measuring their visual flow. They count their footsteps and make it back to their homes despite the uniform appearance of their surroundings and their small size.

Check back next Monday for some cool facts about honeybees.