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No. 121: Jan-Feb 1999

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October 5, 1998: Dark Day for Homing Pigeons

Just what happened on October 5 may never be known. On that day thousands of homing pigeons were released by their proud owners in widely separated locations expecting they would quickly race home to their lofts. Few made it.

All over the planet, homing pigeons are not homing as well as they used to. Performance has been falling steadily over the past two decades. The favorite theory blames geomagnetic storms, but no such correlation has been shown. Microwaves are fingered next. Cell phones and satellite communications fill the atmosphere ever more densely with microwaves that may throw off the navigation equipment of homing pigeons, but this hasn't been demonstrated yet either.

(Ensley, Gerald; "Case of the 3,600 Disappearing Homing Pigeons Has Experts Baffled," Chicago Tribune, October 18, 1998. Cr. J. Cieciel. Also: Schoettler, Carl; "Pondering the Great Homing Pigeon Panic," Baltimore Sun, October 18, 1998.)

From Science Frontiers #121, JAN-FEB 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987