Current Biology, 22 January 2018, Vol.28(2), pp.275-279.e2
Compass orientation is central to the control of animal movement from the scale of local food-caching movements around a familiar area in parids [ ] and corvids [ ] to the first autumn vector navigation of songbirds embarking on long-distance migration [ ]. In the study of diurnal birds, where the homing pigeon, , has been the main model, a time-compensated sun compass [ ] is central to the two-step map-and-compass process of navigation from unfamiliar places, as well as guiding movement via a representation of familiar area landmarks [ ]. However, its use by an actively navigating wild bird is yet to be shown. By phase shifting an animal’s endogenous clock, known as clock-shifting [ ], sun-compass use can be demonstrated when the animal incorrectly consults the sun’s azimuthal position while homing after experimental displacement [ ]. By applying clock-shift techniques at the nest of a wild bird during natural incubation, we show here that an oceanic navigator—the Manx shearwater, —incorporates information from a time-compensated sun compass during homeward guidance to the breeding colony after displacement. Consistently with homing pigeons navigating within their familiar area [ ], we find that the effect of clock shift, while statistically robust, is partial in nature, possibly indicating the incorporation of guidance from landmarks into movement decisions. Padget et al. show that a wild bird makes use of a time-compensated sun compass during active navigation. By measuring the minute-by-minute orientation of GPS-tracked Manx shearwaters homing under clock shift from distant release sites, the authors demonstrate that a sun compass is fundamental even once visual landmarks are available.
Bird Navigation ; Compass Orientation ; Sun Compass ; Shearwater ; Seabird ; Clock Shift ; Biology
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