Confused Homing Pigeons and Space Weather

Basic Facts About Homing Pigeons

Certain animal species on Earth (such as the homing pigeon) are able to detect the Earth's magnetic field and use it for navigational purposes. Homing pigeons have been known to reach home by flying over 1000 miles (1600 kilometers) in two days time through unfamiliar territory. In homing pigeons, this ability has been cultivated by selective breeding. Homing pigeons were used by the U.S. military during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. During World War I, one amazing bird flew 25 miles in 24 minutes to deliver a message, arriving with one leg shot off and a bullet wound. Pigeons were replaced in the military by electronic devices in 1956. However, racing homing pigeons is a sport that is enjoyed worldwide.

Impacts of Space Weather Disturbances

During space weather disturbances, the intense electric currents flowing in near-Earth space produce nonsteady magnetic fields that are felt at the Earth's surface. Homing pigeons have been observed to become confused during such disturbances and can even be lost.

Last modified prior to September, 2000 by the Windows Team

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