Pigeons Revisited

I have pre­vi­ously blogged about pigeons and dis­cussed some great resources that can be found out there. Today, I will explore there his­tory a lit­tle further.

Since we are com­ing off of Veteran’s Day (thank you all of our ser­vice men and women) I think it is appro­pri­ate to men­tion some of the pigeons that have served our coun­try. This is no joke. Cher Ami was a WWI mes­sen­ger pigeon that helped save lives–specifically mem­bers of New York’s 77th Divi­sion of US Army. Dur­ing a bat­tle in France, the bat­tal­ion was sep­a­rated from allied forces and sur­rounded by the enemy. The allies started fir­ing and did not know that their own troops were in the fray. The bat­tal­ion sent out mes­sen­ger pigeons to get word to the allies to stop shoot­ing. After two pigeons were shot down, the third and last pigeon (Cher Ami) was sent out. Despite being shot in the breast and hav­ing a leg shot off, he was able to fly the mes­sage to the Allies and the shoot­ing stopped. See the full story http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pigeonwatch/resources/pigeons-in-history
or learn more and see Cher Ami’s pre­served body at the Smith­son­ian Insti­tute National Museum of Amer­i­can History.

Pigeons were domesi­cated over 5000 years ago and was intro­duced from Europe to North Amer­ica in the 1600’s.  Pigeons have been used for food, as pets, bred for show­ing and rac­ing, and used to send messeges such as Cher Ami.

 Bokhara trum­peter pigeon

Pigeons can be kept in coops and allowed to fly freely and expected to return home. They are able to nav­i­gate their way back home by sens­ing the earth’s mag­netic field.

So what is the dif­fer­ence between pigeons and doves? not much. Pigeons and doves belong to the fam­ily Columbidae and the order columb­i­forme. What we con­sider pigeons seen in most urban set­tings are also called rock doves and are a species of doves (Columba livia).

 Vic­to­ria crowned pigeon! Isn’t it beautiful?

So now you know why I love pigeons. If you are look­ing for more pic­tures, books and resources of these amaz­ing birds, please refer back to my blog from July 2011.

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