Pigeons usually let best navigator take the lead | Science News

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Pigeons usually let best navigator take the lead

But other birds sometimes get a turn at the helm

By
2:48pm, April 7, 2010

View a video of the pigeons being tracked via GPS.

Even the bird-brained can follow a leader. When pigeons fly in flocks, each bird falls behind another with better navigational skill, and the savviest among them leads the flock, scientists report in the April 8 Nature.

The research suggests hierarchies can serve peaceful purposes in the animal kingdom, where dominance by brute force is often the rule. “A pecking order tends to be just that — a pecking order,” says Iain Couzin of Princeton University, an expert in collective behavior who was not involved in the research.

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