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Abstract

To investigate the relative importance of stellar and magnetic cues for the compass orientation of night migrating birds, 45 European robins (Erithacus rubecula) were tested in automatically registering cages with view of the clear natural night sky. One group was tested in the natural local geomagnetic field, the other group in a field pointing to 120° ESE; birds from both groups were additionally tested in a magnetic field the horizontal component of which was compensated. The observed orientation behavior leads to the conclusion that star compass and magnetic compass are not independent, but that they are interlinked in the way that the star compass is established by information from the magnetic compass.