There’s nothing very mysterious about this—it’s just what it feels like to be home, to experience a sense of light or of smell that is inexplicably “right.” I sometimes imagine that it is also the experience that inspires the homing pigeon to its incredible accomplishments. The scientist, of course, is only permitted to ask the bird how he does it, not why, and certainly not what it feels like. But the salient feature of the phenomenon is not whether the subconscious act of navigation is dependent on stars or magnetism or polarized light, but that the bird must move to correct the tension it feels when it finds itself “out of context.” It moves to correct its feeling of placeless-ness, a defect that will only be corrected when it reaches its roost. The bird is carried by a swirling mental vortex toward the center of the vacuum left by its displacement from its place in the environmental collage, to that small slice of environment in which it fits and by which it is defined.
-Neil Evernden, “Beyond Ecology: Self, Place, and the Pathetic Fallacy (found here)