Carrier Pigeon: Characteristics, Training and more

La Messenger pigeon It is a very easygoing and expeditious bird, its main purpose being to carry out a mission quickly, which is quite easy due to its optimal location in space. Continue reading this article to learn all about this amazing bird.

Messenger pigeon

History of the homing pigeon

The carrier pigeon as a method of communication is probably as old as the ancient Persians, from whom the art of training birds probably came. The Mughals have also used them as messengers. The Romans used pigeon messengers to aid their military more than 2000 years ago. Frontinus said that Julius Caesar used pigeons as messengers in his conquest of Gaul.

The Greeks reported the victors of the Olympics to the various cities by this means. In the XNUMXth century, they were used colored carrier pigeons in Baghdad. Naval Chaplain Henry Teonge described in his diary a regular pigeon postal service used by merchants between İskenderun and Aleppo. Before the telegraph, this method of communication was very fashionable among stockbrokers and financiers.

The Dutch government established a civil and military system in Java and Sumatra in the early 1851th century, obtaining the birds from Baghdad. In XNUMX, German-born Paul Julius Reuter opened an office in the City of London that transmitted stock prices between London and Paris over the new cable Calais to Dover.

Numerous societies for the breeding of pigeons of this class were established in all major European countries, and in time various governments established systems of communication for military purposes by pigeon mail.

After the dovecote between military fortresses had been thoroughly tested, attention turned to its use for naval purposes, to send messages to ships in nearby waters. It was also used by news agencies and individuals on various occasions. The governments of various countries established their own methods including the use of homing pigeons.

Laws were passed making the destruction of such pigeons a felony, prizes were offered to private societies to encourage efficiency, and bounties were given for the destruction of these birds. Before the advent of radio, newspapers used pigeons to report on yacht racing, and some yachts were equipped with lofts.

During the establishment of formal pigeon mail services, registration of all birds was introduced. At the same time, in order to hamper the efficiency of foreign countries' systems, difficulties were placed in the way of importing their birds for training and in some cases falcons were specially trained to break service in time of war. .

The Germans set the example by using falcons against the Paris pigeons in 1870-71. No satisfactory method seems to have been developed to protect the weaker birds, although the Chinese formerly provided their pigeons with whistles and bells to ward off birds of prey. However, as radiotelegraphy and telephony developed, the use of pigeons was limited to fortress warfare as early as the 1910s.

As an example, the British Admiralty discontinued its pigeon service in the early 250.000th century, even though it had achieved a remarkably high level of efficiency. However, large numbers of birds were still being kept in the great inland fortresses of France, Germany, and Russia when World War I broke out. During World War II, the United Kingdom used around XNUMX carrier pigeons.

What are the characteristics of a carrier pigeon?

Homing pigeons belong to the order Columbiformes. Its scientific name is Ectopistes migratorius. Ectopistes means "to move or wander" and migratorius means "to migrate". The scientific name has the connotation of a bird that not only migrates in the spring and fall, but also moves from season to season to select the most favorable environment for nesting and feeding.

The physical appearance of this bird was consistent with its characteristics of flight, speed and maneuverability. The head and neck were small; the long, wedge-shaped tail and long, pointed wings were powered by large chest muscles that gave it the ability for prolonged flight.

Carrier Pigeon Characteristics

The average length of the male was approximately 42 cm. The female was approximately 3 cm shorter. The head and upper parts of the Paloma male were light bluish gray with black stripes on the scapulars and wing coverts. Patches of pinkish iridescence on the sides of the throat changed color to bright metallic bronze, green, and purple on the back of the neck.

The lower part of the neck and the chest are more rosy, gradually turning white in the lower part of the belly. The irises were deep scarlet; bill small, black and thin; legs and legs a light red. The female's colors were more dissipated and paler. Her head and back were blackish gray, the iridescent spots on her neck and nape were less bright, and her breasts were pale pink.

Its habitat and distribution

These birds naturally thrive in cliff environments, particularly ocean cliffs. Introduced and wild individuals can live in cliffside environments, but have found a perfect niche in urban life. Cities provide them with perfect opportunities to collect garbage, since humans produce a lot of it.

These birds live naturally in southern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. In Europe they are found in both the west and south and in Asia they are found in the west and south. They have also been introduced in a large number of regions. Its non-native range consists of the rest of Europe, other parts of Asia, southeastern Australia, southern Africa, parts of South America, parts of Canada, and all of the United States and Mexico.

How is the behavior of the homing pigeon?

Because these birds are relatively defenseless and at risk of predation, they remain in masses of birds with great regularity. In denser assemblages, a single bird is much less likely to be targeted, and the movement of many animals can confuse predators. Some of the birds in a flock are producers and locate food sources. The others are freeloaders and join the feeding after the producers have located the food.

Carrier Pigeon Behavior

What does the homing pigeon eat?

Opportunistic feeding is one of the keys to the success of this bird. Some common foods include grains and seeds, vegetables, fruits, berries, insects, snails, earthworms, and more. In the cities they will consume practically anything edible. Human waste provides a wide variety of food and they take advantage of what they find.

How is your reproduction process?

Pigeons are monogamous birds and mate for life. Both the female and the male hatch the eggs and care for the chicks. Males build nests along coastal cliffs, as well as artificial cliffs created by tall urban buildings with accessible ledges and roofs.

Breeding can occur at any time of year, especially in areas where food is plentiful. However, it is much more common in spring and summer. The female lays about three eggs, and both parents brood those eggs for 15 to 20 days. The chicks are fed with crop milk produced by their parents. After about 30 days, the chicks will learn to fly and become self-sufficient.

Racing pigeon training

These interesting birds have a rich history of transporting messages and supplies between two locations. These birds were a common messaging tool before the digital revolution. Today, his skills remain relevant in situations that limit digital and physical communication. Training pigeons is simple, but it requires time, dedication and proper care.

Set the base location

Carrier pigeons carry messages between two places. You must first establish the base location, the living room of the house, as the center point. This room is where the pigeons spend most of their time and serves as a food and water station. It should have a hatch that allows pigeons to enter, but restricts their ability to exit at will.

Carrier Pigeon Training

Practice in intervals

It is ideal to acclimate pigeons by practicing at variable distances. For example, taking the pigeons out of the house and using a cage to carry them a mile away. Release them and they will return home. Do this several times to practice. Then increase the range to 8 kilometers and repeat the process. The gradual increase in range allows you to test these birds as the group builds stamina and gains confidence.

Food and water incentives

This bird is trained in one or two locations using food and water incentives. You can use your home base location as a single return route for messages, or create a route between two established locations. For a two-way flight path, remove the food from the base. Manually carry the pigeon to the second location and provide the food.

The pigeon feeds and will eventually return to base. This process should be repeated until the pigeon migrates between the two locations independently.

Attach the message

The messages are carried with small backpacks. Backpacks use fabric shoulder straps and fabric or plastic attachment slots. Fabric is lightweight and easy to style, but many materials are susceptible to damage from water and the elements. Small tubes provide secure enclosures for notes and supplies.

The various types of carrier pigeons

There are a variety of carrier pigeon breed, which are detailed below in more detail:

  • Very fast: they are not very charming, they do not have much attitude, they have more sectioned wings, this bird shows to be more rigid, it has a hasty temperament, they eat in an exaggerated way, even so, their sense of direction is extraordinary and their elevated tail is one of their diagnostic characteristics.
  • Great background: This bird is much calmer than the previous one, with a greater dimension in length than the previous one, its tail points towards the bottom and its head is small, always straight, its wings are long and thick, its legs are also straighter, its personality is noble and more social, they tend to feed more slowly.
  • Mid-bottom: It is a combination of the previous copies. It is short because its limbs are unequal, the neck is extensive, its tail is shorter, the nature of this pigeon is impatient and it feeds quickly and abundantly.

All about a Palomar 

A dovecote is a structure designed to house pigeons and even other small birds. These structures provide a safe environment for pigeons to nest in, as well as creating a clear home base for the birds, this encourages them to settle down and make a dovecote their ideal home.

Modern lofts purchased today are often used to house racing pigeons, including ornamental pigeons. Keeping pigeons in garden settings began to become popular during the 1920s and this trend has continued to the present day.

Several basic design features are common to all lofts. They usually have a large number of compartments or cubbyholes to serve as individual nests, they are also raised to deter predators. The shape of a dovecote varies greatly. Circular, square, and octagonal lofts are all relatively common.

Typically, the structure of older, more traditional lofts is large enough for someone to enter and was hollowed out, with the cubicles lining the interior walls. These dovecots are very few and far between as over the years they have been demolished or neglected. In addition to the large traditional brick dovecots, it is also possible to find much smaller structures, which are designed for estates, public and private gardens of any size.

cleaning and care

From time to time it is important to ensure that the nest compartments are cleaned. This can be a tedious and complicated job, but it is essential, as with any other animal, that its habitat is clean to avoid infection, damage or bugs. It is important to do this when the pigeons have flown from the nest for the day.

Some experts recommend lining loft compartments with strips of felt that can be easily replaced from time to time. Optionally, it is recommended to use a scraper tool to clean up most of the mess and then apply a cloth with warm soapy water to make sure all of the mess is removed, but avoiding the Humidity. Avoid using strong-smelling cleaning products.

It is recommended to paint the loft annually, preferably in the spring months when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. Before you begin, make sure the areas where you are applying paint are clean. Some areas may need sanding, do it with soft sandpaper and brush off any dust.

How does a homing pigeon's sense of direction work?

Despite many scientific studies over the years, no one fully understands how homing pigeons navigate home over long distances. There are several theories that experts believe explain at least part of the processes at work. Scientists now believe that carrier pigeons have compass and map mechanisms that help them navigate home.

The compass mechanism helps them fly in the right direction, while the map mechanism allows them to compare where they are and where they want to be (home). The compass mechanism of a homing pigeon is probably based on sunlight. Like many other birds, they can use the position and angle of the Sun to determine the proper direction for flight.

However, the mechanism of the map remains a mystery. Some researchers believe that carrier pigeons use magneto-reception, which involves relying on the Earth's magnetic fields for guidance. Researchers have found that carrier pigeons have concentrations of iron particles in their beaks that would allow them to easily detect magnetic fields.

Possible predators and dangers

Pigeons do not have natural defense mechanisms to protect themselves from predators. Their ability to fly is the only thing between them and predators on land, which includes opossums and raccoons. However, pigeons are often taken by predatory birds such as peregrine falcons, red-tailed falcons, Owl shrill.

Chicks and their eggs are also at risk from the domestic cat population. Despite being on the list of almost all predators, groups of pigeons are not in danger of becoming extinct. Most humans see these birds as dirty pests, but in reality their ability to spread ailments is quite low.

There is a small chance of getting some fungal or bacterial infections from contact with pigeon faeces, but these are very rare. These birds can contract a number of illnesses, including West Nile virus and avian influenza, but do not appear to be able to transmit it to other animals. Humans retaliate by killing these birds, but they will not really be threatened by human activity.

beliefs and superstitions

There are many references to pigeons in modern society. People can have pigeonholes or pigeonholes, or even act like fecal pigeons. These birds are everywhere. Because pigeons thrive in artificial environments, they have become extremely common wherever there are people. In fact, pigeons are abundant in Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as throughout North America. As well as being the stuff of legend and lore, these creatures are also the focus of many misconceptions.

  • It is good luck for a pigeon to defecate on someone: It is difficult to prove, but it is very likely that pigeon droppings do not bring good luck. Okay, this one is hard to prove or disprove with any kind of scientific accuracy, but the consensus is that being defecated by someone or something is a bad thing. For one thing, pigeon feces smell bad. And second, although it is not toxic in small amounts, it can cause serious and life-threatening fungal infections if inhaled in significant amounts.

In addition, it must be considered that pigeons are also carriers of parasites, which can be passed to humans through contact with their waste. When you counter this with the paucity of evidence to support claims of good fortune after this event, it becomes clear that standing under a flock of these birds at feeding time should be avoided.

  • Doves are divine beings: Doves have been important symbols in religious writings, but does this make them divine? Again, this myth is difficult to argue with rationally, but it had to be included in the list since doves appear so frequently in the scriptures and writings of the ancient world. Whether serving as a sacrifice in Jewish tradition or as Noah's messenger on the ark, doves play a central role in the tradition of world religions.

Doves also represent peace, purity, faith, and fidelity in many cultures around the world. It is difficult to discern why these birds occupy such a consecrated ground in human societies.

  • Pigeons can fly thousands of kilometers per day: Pigeons can fly far, but not that far. Still, 900 kilometers in one day is pretty impressive. Based on the incredible flight abilities of pigeons, stories about their winged performance have been greatly inflated over the years. For example, pigeons have a remarkable ability to find their way home, but not from the other side of the world, as legend would have it.

decorated pigeons

The Dickin Decoration is the most recognized award for the value granted to a non-human being. She was licensed to an extensive number of pigeons, including the North American Regimental Pigeon Service. joe and the Messenger pigeon irlandesa was one of those included in this memorable honor.


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