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Letters to Nature
Nature 237, 404 - 405 (16 June 1972); doi:10.1038/237404a0

Smell and Foraging in Shearwaters and Petrels


Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
* Present address: Department of Biology, Livingston College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903.

BIRDS of the order Procellariiformes (the tube-nosed swimmers: albatrosses, shearwaters and petrels) are unusual in the development of their olfactory equipment, and some authors have suggested that these pelagic birds locate food by smell1–3. I report here positive responses from shearwaters and petrels to airborne odour trails controlled for visual cues.



1. Bang, B. G., Acta Anat., 65, 391 (1966).
2. Bang, B. G., and Cobb, S., Auk, 85, 55 (1968).
3. Stager, K. E., Amer. Zool., 7, 415 (1967).
4. Siegel, S., Nonparametric Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1966).

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