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J R Soc Interface. 2010 Apr 6;7 Suppl 2:S227-33. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2009.0376.focus. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Night-migratory garden warblers can orient with their magnetic compass using the left, the right or both eyes.

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AG Neurosensorik/Animal Navigation, IBU, University of Oldenburg, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany.


Several studies have suggested that the magnetic compass of birds is located only in the right eye. However, here we show that night-migrating garden warblers (Sylvia borin) are able to perform magnetic compass orientation with both eyes open, with only the left eye open and with only the right eye open. We did not observe any clear lateralization of magnetic compass orientation behaviour in this migratory songbird, and, therefore, it seems that the suggested all-or-none lateralization of magnetic compass orientation towards the right eye only cannot be generalized to all birds, and that the answer to the question of whether magnetic compass orientation in birds is lateralized is probably not as simple as suggested previously.

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