Birds Can Smell

Danielle Whittaker, BEACON researcher, used dark-eyed juncos to demonstrate how songbirds use scent to attract mates. Credit: Photo courtesy of BEACON
Dark-eyed juncos in scent study (photo courtesy of BEACON)

True or False?

Birds have little or no sense of smell.  … False!

Turkey vultures, seabirds, kiwis and parrots are known for their sense of smell.  And every time I turn around a new study finds more species with olfactory prowess.  As Audubon Magazine says, “In fact, every bird tested has passed the sniff test.”

Back in 2011 Danielle Whittaker showed that the scent in preen oil varies among dark-eyed juncos. Those who smell the best, from a junco’s point of view, attract more mates.  Yes, dark-eyed juncos can smell.

Read more in this vintage article: They Use Cologne


(Photo: courtesy of BEACON via Science Daily)

2 thoughts on “Birds Can Smell

  1. Yes, but Earl Shriver would still argue that vultures can’t smell!

    Says the experiments that say they can didn’t rule out the use of visual cues – i.e. blowflies over buried carrion!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *