Do birds have a sense of smell?
Some birds, such as falcons and hawks, are known for their keen eyesight. Owls have excellent hearing, used for locating prey at night. But do any birds have a well-developed sense of smell?
Research has revealed that Turkey Vultures have an excellent sense of smell, but what about other species? Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Starnberg, Germany have been studying smell-related genes in nine bird species representing seven major branches of the avian family tree. Their results indicate that many birds may have an excellent sense of smell. One of the best 'smellers' may be a large New Zealand parrot called a kakapo. The kakapo has 667 functional olfactory receptor genes, compared to about 400 in humans and 1000 in mice.