Research has been performed with the intention of discovering how pigeons can find their way back from distant places they have never visited before. Most researchers believe that homing ability is based on a map and compass model, with the compass feature allowing birds to orient and the map feature allowing birds to determine their location relative to a goal site (home loft). Some researchers believe that the map mechanism relies on the ability of birds to detect the Earth’s magnetic field. The theory that pigeons’ famous skill at navigation is down to iron-rich nerve cells in their beaks has been disproved by a new study published in Nature. The study shows that iron-rich cells in the pigeon beak are in fact specialized white blood cells, called macrophages. This finding, which shatters the established dogma, puts the field back on course as the search for magnetic cells continues.