Quantum entanglement, iodine and the homing instinct of racing pigeons
Quantum entanglement what is it and what’s it got to do with our pigeons? Well let’s start quantum entanglement is part of quantum physics a very large and complicated subject even Einstein called it spooky action at a distance. Now I don’t profess to understand it all but as far as our beloved feathery racing machines go I will concentrate on one element of the subject called quantum entanglement. Through the study of the humble bird the European Robin has revealed a secret that might just add some understanding by adding to along with other more well-known theories some explanation as to why our bird’s find their way home from places they have never been before known as the pigeons homing instinct.
So let’s begin and I will try to explain quantum entanglement in a simplistic way and link the theory to the scientific study of the European Robin which shows how the Robin uses quantum entanglement to help it find its way home within its annual migration. This at first glance sounds very futuristic and complicated but when you break it down to it’s component parts it actually shows us the mechanism of a variation on what fanciers have known for a long time which is that pigeons use the earth’s magnetic fields to determine where it is and calculates it’s direction home. Quantum entanglement provides a methodology for a bird to achieve this by using receptors in it’s eyes to measure light photons, now I’m no quantum physicist and I don’t expect many fanciers that are reading this are so I will try to give my understanding of the quantum entanglement process in this example as per my understanding. Quantum entanglement theory in this situation requires the belief that two particles are entangled together over space and gives an example that one is red and the other is green but both can be the same colour at the same time. For simplicity within our example the receptors in the pigeons eye picks up minutely small signals from the earth’s magnetic fields disrupting the two quantum particles inside the bird’s brain resulting in an alignment of the two colours or opposite colours then depending on this signal received the bird interprets which way to fly towards it’s loft. One interesting point to note is the prevalence of importance of the eye in this process because as I’m sure all fanciers are aware that there are lots of theories on eyesign with fanciers using the eyesign as an indication of the potential of a pigeons worth for racing and or breeding. I must admit that I am not an advocate of the standard eyesign theory but I do believe a bright clear eye can help in the assessment of a pigeons health and condition taken in conjunction with other indicators. The quantum theory does however show that just maybe regarding homing instinct that there could be something in it. My belief is that the homing instinct of a pigeon is not just made up of one definitive theory but is made up of a few. I think it would be wrong of us to settle our judgement on one. So let’s have a little look at the other theories we will start with the most widely known this being that the pigeons homes using it’s sight. We’ve all seen examples of bird’s on film and more recently GPS tracking which clearly shows our bird’s following motorways and landmarks as a visual aid to get home. This however doesn’t explain how a pigeon returns from a place far away from any landmarks it recognises that it could possibly see. Hence the overall multiple theories in how it navigates. So we can draw from this that the eyes of pigeons are very important in it’s ability to home. Another common theory is the olfactory system of the pigeon in that they home partly by using their sense of smell I say partly because a pigeon without eyes would not be going anywhere. It is theorized that pigeons pick up smells from the air identifying familiar odours over great distances guiding the pigeon home to the loft. My own view is that it’s possible and why we fanciers use eucalyptus oils and nasal products to enhance this function. Again staying in the region of the olfactory area it is also proposed that the pigeon has built into it’s wattles magnetic receptors which receive signals from the earth’s magnetic fields, again this is one the most widely known theories and I think whichever way this process takes place the earth’s magnetic field is prominent in the understanding of how our bird’s home. Here’s a throw away thought based on my observations over time. When I was young racing pigeons both cocks and hens seemed to have bigger wattles compared with most of the pigeons today. Maybe the bigger the wattles the bigger the magnetic receptors? Maybe we have been breeding for speed rather than homing abilities! Like I said just a thought.
Here’s a couple of anecdotal observations I have noticed that I believe make the pigeons homing instinct perform to its potential. This is where iodine makes it entrance, iodine has long been used in pigeon husbandry for it’s disinfecting properties but did you know that iodine is essential for aiding the function of glands. There has been studies in humans and animals that show that correct levels of iodine can increase levels of IQ in young children. I have noticed a correlation in my pigeons when lugols iodine 6% is given when young birds are in the nest and as they grow their alertness is increased ( what I call them being switched on mentally, which I believe assists with their homing abilities. How do I come to this conclusion well based on the facts that iodine performs a vital role in gland function from human studies that iodine aids with the de calcification of the pineal gland to support clear thinking from this I ascertain that a similar result occurs in our bird’s. An additional benefit I believe iodine has on our birds is on the liver the biggest internal organ and is a gland. This glad has an important role in a bird’s endurance being essential to the storage of fats which then are metabolized into fuel which promotes long periods of flight. The last observation I would like to share regarding the pigeons homing instinct is open hole (for new starters of the sport this is leaving your bird’s to come and go as they please) this method increases the love of home but I also believe that this is because it’s not only loft that becomes their own but the surrounding area. What I mean by this is take for example you are playing darts and you are aiming for the bull for those that don’t play darts the little red dot in the centre of the board this being your loft but because your bird’s are on open hole the area for you to hit with your dart has suddenly grown to now encompass the green outer circle making it easier to hit. So from a distance your bird’s have a larger target to hit that they call home.
So to summarise it’s clear that pigeons use different methods of navigation to find their way home. It’s also clear that a fanciers actions can influence this process. There is no definitive answer yet any one proven theory that categorically answers the question how do pigeons find their way home from a place they have never ever been to before. To date fanciers and academics alike will ponder this mystical question.
Please note: I am not a medical professional or a veterinarian so please discuss any changes with your health professional’s before you implement any changes on yourself.
I am though passionate about racing pigeons and have been all my life and endeavour to share my knowledge with likeminded others. It is totally your choice should you wish to implement any of my findings.
Yours in sport
Dave Bunker Brierley 2021