Friday, 28 January 2011

No Place Like Homing

Common rock pigeon (Columba livia) I had often wondered why there were so many pigeons nesting and congregating around Queens condo and the adjacent Queenstown MRT.

They were the bane of our life fouling the air-conditioning platforms and in turn encouraging a stream of ants and other nasties to their nesting sites.

Now it seems science has provided the answer.  Pigeons apparently sniff their way home with their right nostril according to new research out of Italy.

The Italians are of course good at sniffing out stories themselves, as is witnessed in the ongoing Berlusconi saga -  but that is another story.

The aforementioned pigeons would be severely handicapped if they were to develop an allergy and find their right nostril blocked.

According to the study a blocked right nostril means that pigeons are unable to create the "map of smells" that guides them on their journey.

The scientists plugged either the left or the right nostril of homing pigeons raised just outside Pisa.

They released the birds from Cigoli, 40km away, and followed the birds' return routes using GPS trackers. The 'right nostril disadvantaged' fared worse on the return journey.

Perhaps this same theory applies to Singapore's feathered vermin? The pollution levels around Queenstown got quite bad at times and I figure that the pigeons have this worked out.

By not going anywhere they run little risk of blocked nostrils leadings them astray.  There is the added advantage of coffee shop scraps and nesting sites in the nooks and crannies of the MRT line.

Perhaps the NEA could conduct a similar experiment in the hope, that by blocking the noses of Singapore pigeons, they might fly across the Causeway to Malaysia?
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