The Springett Lecture on Bird Migration VIEW ON MAP

Bird Navigation: How do swifts find their way back to Hampstead, and how do pigeons home?

Delivered by Dr Rupert Sheldrake

At Rosslyn Hill Chapel on Thursday 17 October 2019

7:30 refreshments, 8:00pm talk. Admission is free to members of the Society and Marylebone Birdwatching Society and non-members can purchase tickets via Eventbright.

Every spring swifts fly from equatorial Africa across the Sahara desert and over Spain and France before crossing the sea to England. They often return to the same place they nested the previous year, where they meet their life-long mates. Racing pigeons can fly home from 600 miles away in a single day, even when released far from anywhere they have ever been before. How do they do it?

Despite decades of research, bird navigation remains unexplained. A magnetic sense may play a part and so may the sun’s position. Landmarks help when birds are near their destination and in familiar terrain. But something more mysterious is going on.

Dr Sheldrake will discuss possible explanations, and describe some of his own experiments carried out in conjunction with the Royal Dutch Navy, in which the pigeons’ home was on a ship that traversed the Atlantic.

Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D. is a biologist and author of more than 85 scientific papers and nine books, including The Science Delusion. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge and a Research Fellow of the Royal Society, and is now a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, in Petaluma, California, and of Schumacher College, in Dartington, Devon. He lives in Hampstead and has been a member of the HHS Heath Sub-Committee for more than 25 years. His web site is