Pigeons usually let best navigator take the lead | Science News


Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Pigeons usually let best navigator take the lead

But other birds sometimes get a turn at the helm

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.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News