Racing homing pigeons can navigate back to their loft from very distant release points with swift time which is why they were used as message carriers during ancient times up until the last World War, when they were heavily used to avoid enemy detection or infiltration.
A champion racing pigeon can be released in a strange place, up to 400 miles from home and return within 1 day to its loft easy. During the last 40 miles of its journey, the homing pigeon navigates by sight, using landmarks it remembered during its training tosses from forty miles out.
Beyond this, the homing pigeon navigates the other 360 miles by sensing the magnetic field of the Earth as a guide back home. Quantum biology is described by scientists as being responsible for this feat by these incredible birds. Scientists have identified specific brain cells or neurons that can sense geomagnetic fields, in 4 areas of the brain that are linked to inner ear function among pigeons. Pinpointing 53 neurons that are triggered by the strength and polarity of the magnetic field, these cells in the pigeon's brain behave differently for each geo-positional area on the earth.
"We see clearly they can detect the magnetic field," said University of California, Irvine, biophysicist Thorsten Ritz. Scientists think the navigation sense is also made in the birds' eye cells by a special light-sensitive protein, cryptochrome. Subatomic reactions with the cryptochrome from light radiation entering the eye enables the pigeon to map in its mind the magnetic field and be guided by the magnetic waves it sees.
Another scientist, Jon Hagstrum has proposed that infra-sounds guide the birds back home instead of sight. Suggesting that the pigeons hear the magnetic field, and he has performed some experiments that seem to indicate this is also a possibility why some pigeons get lost when the magnetic field is disrupted by very strong radio waves and radiating power line towers
Hagstrum's research has the U.S. Navy and Air Force interested in his work and how it could be applied to navigation technology.
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