Bird Migration: the Biology and Physics of Orientation Behaviour. By Donald R. Griffin. Science Study Series, N o . 32. Heinemann, London, 1965. x v + 1 8 0 pages; 27 text-figures. 12s. 6d. (paperback 8s. 6d.). The author's interests are clearly better represented by the sub-title. Nevertheless, he does his duty by the broader subject and devotes a third of the book to sketching in the outlines of the characteristics of migration and the general investigations of recent years, particularly those using new techniques such as radar. The various theories of bird orientation are discussed, generally without much enthusiasm. The basic evidence of homing experiments is then set out. In these experiments, breeding birds are removed from their nests, sometimes to distances of several thousand miles, and the speed and completeness of their returns are studied. Dr. Griffin himself made valuable contributions in this field and initiated the revival of interest in bird navigation (as well as, incidentally, coining this term). The relatively slow returns of his birds, and of those of other workers in that era, led him to consider whether homing could not be explained on the basis of a random search for landmarks-- molecular navigation. In a bold attempt to obtain crucial data on whether the homing flight was directed or meandering, he learnt to fly a light aircraft and pursued homing gulls, Gannets and pigeons. This chapter is particularly evocative and we learn that research can be an adventure in more ways than one. Surreptitious
Volume: 
Issue 4

Stay at the forefront of British birding by taking out a subscription to British Birds.

Subscribe Now