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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 24, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Wednesday, October 24, 1973 LETHBRIDGE HERALD Use during migration Birds have built-in navigation system Herald Ottawa Bureau OTTAWA A group of Canadian scientists postulate that birds have a built-in navigational system for use during mi- gration that uses the lowly feather as its sensor and minicomputer. And the new migration theory, if true, could lead to man creating artificial migration routes for birds, using radio transmitters to attract the birds and allow- ing the birds to be routed around valuable crops, cities, and airports. The concept, seemingly straight out of science fic- tion, could even be a boon to both hunters and bird- watchers of some species, by concentrating Mother Nature's migratory bird paths. The new theory was pre- sented this week by a Queen's University scien- tist, Dr. Cesar Romero- Sierra of the anatomy department, at an inter- national symposium on microwaves in Warsaw, Poland. Based on a number of years of research at Queen's and at the National Research Council on the effects of microwave radiation on birds, the theory postulates that birds use their feathers to detect minor changes in temperature, humidity and the earth's magnetic field and use this information to navigate during migration. In fact, the feathers may actually trigger the migratory urge in the bird. Dr. Romero-Sierra suggested in an interview that fish may use their scales in a similar fashion, for picking an underwater migratory route. And he believes his theory is superior to other recent bird migration theories because it in- volves the interaction of a number of environmental factors temperature, humidity, and magnetic field. Recent theories, by com- parison, have attributed a bird's navigation capabili- ty to the use of the sun's position, or the use of the magnetic lines of force of the earth, or even the stars. Yet such theories in- evitably seem to leave more questions un- answered than solved. For example, what does the bird do when the sun dis- appears? How does a bird tell he is on the right magnetic line of force go- ing north-south? And what triggers the migration in the first place? The new Canadian theory suggests that the feathers of birds act as sensitive receiving antennas in electromagnetic fields. This has been shown in laboratory tests. And on earth, it would be the planet's magnetic field Enjoy a DEVILISH GOOD DRINK made from fresh Exclusive in Southern Alberta For a Premium Hot Dog Mongrel Dog doasat ORANGE JULIUS Chile Dog a meal in a minute! CENTRE VILLAGE MALL COLLEGE MALL which is detected, ar- tificially, certain types of radio waves might stimulate the same response. Dr. Romero-Sierra has also shown that the recep- tion characteristics of feathers changes with changing temperature and- or humidity. Thus, as the temperature of a region falls during autumn, the bird's feathers tune into the earth's magnetic field in such a way as to create a discom- fort for the bird. Or, to put it another way, it triggers the migratory instinct. At first, the bird, like many humans, tries to satisfy the discomfort by feeding, Dr. Romero- Sierra suggests. This pre- There's money in grasshoppers By CONRAD HODDINOTT WINNIPEG (CP) Manitoba farmers, who wouldn't give you a nickel for a field of grasshoppers, may soon be changing their tune about the creatures. The main Thing the hopper has going for him is that the Japanese are pay- ing as much as a pound for his properly cooked Oriental counter- part. More than 500 metric tons of grasshoppers are eaten annually in Japan and the market is growing. One of the main suppliers of that craving for grasshoppers is the Ryoshoku Company, whose founder and president visited Manitoba recently to look over the province's grasshopper population. And Tadao Makino found that the local hoppers are tasty enough and just the right size. The growing popularity of pestitcides in Japan has cut into Ryoshoku's source of supply and this is one of the main reasons it has turned to Manitoba. Provincial officials are scouting a number of alternative ways of harvesting. One would be to use students for harvesting by hand, the way it is done in Japan. Another would be to use hopper or sweepers, to gather the in- sects. Facilities for blanching and freezing the grasshoppers before ship- ment also will be needed before Manitoba is ready to enter the grasshopper business, says the depart- ment of agriculture. The grasshopper has long been considered a source of protein as well as a specialty food in Japan. It is estimated by food ex- perts that three grasshoppers are equal in nutritional value to one egg. Japanese farm families have traditionally taken a few days off each fall to harvest local grasshoppers for their own use. Once caught, the hoppers are boiled alive, or blanched and cooked in a mixture of soya sauce and sugar. Done this way, they are preserved for as much as two years. The hoppers have a sweet molasses taste and the texture of a fibrous nut when prepared to Ryoshoku's special recipe of soya sauce, sugar and herbs. pares the bird for the ar- duous trip ahead. But after awhile, usually when the food starts to run out, the bird takes to the air to try and escape the sensation of discomfort. Under such circum- stances, the bird's feathers allow the animal to detect the proper direction for migration by sensing, for example, the very small temperature gradient pointing to warmer climates. Depending on the range of sensitivity of the feather to temperature and humidity-induced discom- fort, the bird species might migrate in short or long hops. Supposedly as the en- vironment becomes warmer, the migration- triggering discomfort produced in the feathers would disappear and the bird would land and relax. And then, when en- vironmental factors triggered the discomfort again, the bird would feed and restart migration. Dr. Romero-Sierra says his theory explains why birds held in captivity for too long during migration become confused. The birds, first of all. are fed. which tends to mask the discomfort. More important, when they are finally released, the climate may have changed enough to prevent the bird from detecting the temperature gradient, for example, that would point him in the right direction. The theory may also ex- plain why migratory birds often are attracted to large cities and become con- fused. Notonlyare cities usually warmer, but they also produce large quantities of electromagnetic radiation, including radio waves, that might jam the bird's sen- sitive feather sensors. Dr. Romero-Sierra says that one of the properties of feathers that changes just prior to molting is their capacity to detect certain frequencies of elec- tromagnetic radiation. HAWAIIAN DAYS SPECIALS "Shetland Charm" PURE WOOL YARN Reg. 1.10 per oz. Special MRS. EDITH LEPPARD CLASSIQUE CRYLOR and sports crylor Reg. 1.25 per ball SPECIAL ONLY .00 CAROUSEL KNITTING SHOP CENTRE VILLAGE MALL PHONE 328-4143 We are exclusive Agents in Lethbridge and area for COAST-TO-COAST Real Estate Transferee Service Centre Village Mall Phone 328-8184 Plan your Hawaiian Holiday tfow FUNSEEKERS TOUR 17 FABULOUS NIGHTS in HAWAII Depart Dec. 31st. PRICE ONLY DOUBLE OCCUPANCY Centre Village Phone 328-3201 ART WILLIAMS REAL ESTATE AND INSURANCE TRAVEL ;