How the pigeons find their way is still a bit of a mystery, but there are a few main ideas. One is that the pigeon has a special sense, like a compass. It can sense the magnetic energy of the Earth and know which way it's going and how to get there.
Another idea is that the homing pigeon uses a strong sense of smell and can sense familiar smells that get carried by the winds. By following those smells, it can find its way home.
Pigeons also use their eyes a lot, and they can rely on the Sun to give them a sense of direction.
Even though it's still a bit of a mystery, the fact that any animal can be dropped off in a strange place and be able to find its way home is very impressive!
ExplorationBirds have really good senses of direction. Have you ever seen them migrate? Often it's in big groups, sometimes in the shape of a big "V" across the sky. They always seem to know just where and when to go!
Watch the birds around your home and see if you spot any cool behaviors. If something startles them, do they all fly up in the same direction? (Don't startle them on purpose though.) Do they somehow know exactly where to find food? Think about the special abilities they might have to help them do these things.
Sources & links
"Pigeons Reveal Map-reading Secret." 5 Feb. 2004. BBC News Online. 18 Jul. 2010. "The Animal World - How Does A Homing Pigeon Find Its Way Home?." Science Fact Finder. Ed. Phillis Engelbert. UXL-Gale, 1998. eNotes.com. 2006. 18 Jul, 2010