Do birds have a sense of smell?

The following is an excerpt from The Secret Perfume of Birds: Uncovering the Science of Avian Scent by Danielle J. Whittaker. Copyright 2022. Published with permission by Johns Hopkins University Press.

“Birds don’t have a sense of smell, so I don’t understand why you’d study that anyway.”

This extraordinary statement, expressed offhandedly by neurobiologist Dr. Jim Goodson while we waited in a cafeteria line at lunchtime, caught me off guard. Every form of life, even plants and bacteria, has the ability to sense chemical compounds in their environments. Chemical senses, which include smell and taste, are critical for avoiding harmful substances, like poisons, and finding beneficial ones, like food. Yet here was a well-respected biologist telling me that…

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