Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Lateralisation of magnetic compass orientation in silvereyes, Zosterops lateralis

Wolfgang Wiltschko, Ursula Munro, Hugh Ford and Roswitha Wiltschko

Australian Journal of Zoology 51(6) 597 - 602
Published: 19 February 2004


The ability of migratory silvereyes to orient was tested in the geomagnetic field with one eye covered. Silvereyes using only their right eye were able to orient in migratory direction just as well as birds using both eyes. Using only their left eye, however, the birds did not show a significant directional preference. These data indicate that directional information from the magnetic field is mediated almost exclusively by the right eye and processed by the left hemisphere of the brain. Together with corresponding findings from European robins and indications for a similar phenomenon in homing pigeons, they suggest that a strong lateralisation of the magnetic compass is widespread among birds.

© CSIRO 2004

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