The motivating effect of Tempo 60!
Too many people answer the question: "What does the Lighting tell you" with "fluorescent, halogen, LED"?
Current geopolitical tensions are about important issues as far as the "West" is concerned, including the hard-won "Enlightenment". The "East" did not live through it. We mean the period when individual freedoms were enforced by the establishment, which -if we are honest- has held us up for more than 1,000 years...
"The earth was flat, full stop."
"The planets and the sun revolve around the earth, full stop."
"Man was created according to an intelligent concept, full stop."
You weren't allowed to question that!
The urge for individual freedom arising from consciousness made it through, and democracy was born.
Heroic explorers advocated free research and the expression of free opinion, often at the risk of their lives.
- In the 16th century, Copernicus stated, much to the dismay of the church, that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, as was always assumed.
- Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory showed that man descended from the ape.
- Isaac Newton proved that the universe works according to three fixed laws of nature (the most famous being gravity).
• Then Einstein came up with the theory of relativity and spacetime e= mc2.
- Out of this emerged Max Planck's quantum (particle) physics and, more recently, Brian Greene's string theory, the black holes at the centre of each nebula (galaxy).
- Jesuit and palaeontologist Teilhard de Chardin examined the origin of our consciousness or the answer to the following question: when did an ape first look into the water and think to himself, "that is me"? Pope Pius XII beat him into the church ban for this study. Pope Johannes XXIII, however, reversed this punishment decades later.
- Stephen Hawkins proved that before the Big Bang and the universe's origin, time did not exist, with all its theological implications...
In the Pantheon of Paris, one can learn about the works of famous French illuminated thinkers. Above the entrance is a large caption: "For great men, the grateful fatherland".
They advocated free, critical and systematic research. As a result, human ingenuity led to unprecedented Western flourishing as a result of the insights of these scientists.
A published scientific study is described so thoroughly that anyone can repeat it and check it...
Henceforth, this "contradictory" character is essential in searching for truth. Indeed, thanks to such a study on the influence of social parameters between homing pigeons when returning to the loft, we now have objective decisions at our disposal: what is true and what is fiction...
This study investigated the influence of social parameters, such as sex, mating status or breeding status, when travelling a familiar route in homing pigeons.
After training the pigeons from a release point about 10 km from their loft, they were discharged in different duo and group formations to assess the aforementioned social parameters. Due to repeated releases and the distance between the release point and the loft was not too great, the pigeons became increasingly familiar with this route. They very likely knew the most efficient way quickly (thus acquiring a better efficiency index).
Initial solo flights showed an increase in efficiency for the first few days and then stagnation. It is assumed that training or learning would have had no further impact on subsequent flights and that differences in efficiency were due to differences in motivation. Group size can also improve efficiency, but generally, it is challenging to distinguish between the ability to fly home and the motivation to take advantage of it. Still, it looks likely that stimulation boosts the efficiency index of a known route.
Usually, pigeons reach a high level of route efficiency after about eight to ten flights. The learning process showed that pigeons then took the most efficient route home, which means an increasing approach to the straight line. Generally, the average efficiency index of solo flights varied between 0.66 and 0.91 (1 = straight line), most often around 0.83. Theoretically, a particular rise in efficiency appeared with increasing distance.
The shortness of the distance (10 km in a straight line, as shown in the study, is, in fact, short) could pose no real challenge to the pigeons, so they may not have felt the need for further improvement. The span between efficiencies in this study indicates that the type of social relationships with flight companions can influence the efficiency index over a (relatively short) known route. Only a handful of studies have directly addressed the possible influences of pigeon motivation on return performance. Nowadays, the way flown can easily be tracked. (https://www.refly.nl/).
After years of evaluation and communication with fanciers, Tempo 60 visibly boosts motivation and appetite for flying. The exact influence on return performance (how quickly) still needs to be measured.
Interestingly, unpaired hens showed a better efficiency index in solo flights (one bird) and duo flights (two unpaired birds) than the paired hens or cocks. Celibacy is a motivating factor for a return performance, even a pretty strong one.
The higher efficiency index (finding the shortest path) of group flights of unpaired pigeons is consistent with previous findings showing that group flights generally offer better return performance (fastest return) than solo flights, even when the solo performance of individual pigeons was worse.
Several research groups have described and explained this phenomenon with the "many-wrongs" principle and other models of group navigation that propose the elimination of individual navigation errors (see the previous blog). On the contrary, the circling time increases with group size due to the appointment of a leader. This was not observed in the duo and group flights. One should distinguish between the initial circling and the final route chosen, representing the efficiency index. The Group flight efficiency index of paired pigeons was higher than solo or duo flights. Thus, group size affects efficiency depending on motivational products. The velocity values showed similar trends, but their interpretation is more complicated because estimating the influence of physical fitness in deviations is difficult.
It is presumed that solo-released pigeons show a longer circling time at the release point because they look for other pigeons, while duos and a small number of pairs usually leave the release point much faster. As such, duo or group flights are expected to exhibit a higher efficiency index than solo flights due to socially motivated behaviour at the unloading point. This is in line with our findings for the unpaired hens but not for the paired pigeons. Interestingly, the motivation to fly home via the most direct route is lowest when coupled pairs fly together. Flying with a partner reduces the motivation to go home, thus the efficiency index, because staying with the partner is the motivating factor and acts as a reward.
This matches the usual strategies of pigeon fanciers who know that the paired partner combined with the nest (breeding place) leads to very high motivation in pigeons and can be used to improve return performance. In this, of course, one pigeon of the pair takes part in a race while the other waits in the loft (widowhood). It would be interesting to test whether the phenomenon of poorer performance in (coupled) pair flights disappears when flying long distances or in flights from unknown release sites, as this kind of flight would be more challenging for their navigational ability (non-navigational parameters more redundant). As mentioned above, the efficiency index increased significantly in group flights where three coupled pairs were discharged together.
There is always a tendency to travel in groups (even when flying a known route), and it has been shown that the nature of social relationships within the group can influence route choice. In our study, good return performance in all groups indicates that group flights are generally more efficient and are not strongly influenced by sex, mating or breeding.
Recent publications showed that breeding or hatching status is a motivating factor. Still, these differences are significant only in hens, which suggests that they attach more importance to hatching, perhaps because of their more substantial investment (they lay the eggs and have longer incubations). Return performance was also demonstrated to show an apparent annual periodicity (in pigeons released at unknown locations). Still, no correlation was found between the breeding cycle and return performance, perhaps because pigeons breed year-round if, e.g. food availability is guaranteed.
The results show a correlation between breeding status and efficiency index. An existing clutch or an upcoming eclipse increases the motivation to return home, at least in hens and, at any rate, a short distance from a known release point. It was found that the breeding cycle affects return (speed). In this study, pigeons showed an increase in return speed during breeding time with a peak at the creep-out time and in the first days when the youngsters are present due to psychological aspects (motivation) and hormonal changes. There were indeed the releases at 8 am and 2 pm, just before the expected hatching time. The pair and group flights were conducted a few days earlier and, thus, not during peak time. It was also shown that when returning at night (dusk), breeding pigeons and pigeons with a high degree of oestrus activity appeared much more motivated to produce than other pigeons.
The difficulty of reproducibility (contradictory) of the results makes the return power generally tricky to analyse. Periodic fluctuations have been found across hours, days and years.
Of course, there is also a heavy reliance on
a) the current weather and
b) the discharge site, or the terrain between the discharge site and home, with its characteristic landmarks, geomagnetic field, etc.?
Nevertheless, analysing return trajectories and the home search process can provide exciting insights. This study provides insight into a particular case (known route, short distance, non-stop flights) for which the efficiency index positively correlates with return speed.
Our limited knowledge of motivation to fly home was obtained with ordinary untreated pigeons. This problem becomes relevant for studies using pigeons that have been experimentally manipulated in some way. If their performance is reduced, it is necessary to ask whether the experimental manipulation reduced their ability to return home.
So Comed has a lot of (exciting) work to do ahead! However, we can already state that Tempo 60 has a noticeable motivational effect. We should also point out that with the motivational effect of Tempo 60, a more dominant character must also be considered.