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The fine nose of storks: Birds are drawn to scent of grass, leafy greens

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The sharp eyes of an eagle, the extraordinary hearing of an owl—to successfully find food, the eyes and ears of birds have adapted optimally to their living conditions. Until now, the sense of smell has played a rather subordinate role. When meadows are freshly mowed, storks often appear there to search for snails and frogs. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Radolfzell and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz have now studied the birds' behavior and discovered that the storks are attracted by the smell of the mown grass. Only storks that were downwind and could thus perceive the smell reacted to the mowing. The scientists also sprayed a meadow with a spray of green leaf scents released during mowing. Storks appeared here as well. This shows that white storks use their sense of smell to forage and suggests that the sense of smell may also play a greater role in other birds than previously thought.

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