Avian circadian organization: A chorus of clocks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


In birds, biological clock function pervades all aspects of biology, controlling daily changes in sleep: wake, visual function, song, migratory patterns and orientation, as well as seasonal patterns of reproduction, song and migration. The molecular bases for circadian clocks are highly conserved, and it is likely the avian molecular mechanisms are similar to those expressed in mammals, including humans. The central pacemakers in the avian pineal gland, retinae and SCN dynamically interact to maintain stable phase relationships and then influence downstream rhythms through entrainment of peripheral oscillators in the brain controlling behavior and peripheral tissues. Birds represent an excellent model for the role played by biological clocks in human neurobiology; unlike most rodent models, they are diurnal, they exhibit cognitively complex social interactions, and their circadian clocks are more sensitive to the hormone melatonin than are those of nocturnal rodents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-88
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I would like to thank Clifford Harpole, Jiffin Paulose, and Ye Li for helpful comments. My lab has been supported by NIH P01 NS39546 and the University of Kentucky.


  • Bird song
  • Birds
  • Circadian
  • Circannual
  • Melatonin
  • Migration
  • Navigation
  • Pineal gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Avian circadian organization: A chorus of clocks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this