Homing pigeon
Overview
The homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon
Domestic Pigeon
The Domestic Pigeon was derived from the Rock Pigeon. The Rock Pigeon is the world's oldest domesticated bird. Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets mention the domestication of pigeons more than 5,000 years ago, as do Egyptian hieroglyphics.Research suggests that domestication of pigeons was as early as...

 derived from the Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon
The Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon, is a member of the bird family Columbidae . In common usage, this bird is often simply referred to as the "pigeon"....

 (Columba livia domestica) selectively bred
Selective breeding
Selective breeding is the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Typically, strains that are selectively bred are domesticated, and the breeding is sometimes done by a professional breeder. Bred animals are known as breeds, while bred plants are known as varieties,...

 to find its way home over extremely long distances. The wild rock pigeon has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its own nest and its own mate. This made it relatively easy to breed from the birds that repeatedly found their way home over long distances. Flights as long as 1800 km (1,118.5 mi) have been recorded by birds in competition pigeon racing
Pigeon racing
Pigeon racing is the sport of releasing specially trained racing pigeons, which then return to their homes over a carefully measured distance...

.
Encyclopedia
The homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon
Domestic Pigeon
The Domestic Pigeon was derived from the Rock Pigeon. The Rock Pigeon is the world's oldest domesticated bird. Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets mention the domestication of pigeons more than 5,000 years ago, as do Egyptian hieroglyphics.Research suggests that domestication of pigeons was as early as...

 derived from the Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon
The Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon, is a member of the bird family Columbidae . In common usage, this bird is often simply referred to as the "pigeon"....

 (Columba livia domestica) selectively bred
Selective breeding
Selective breeding is the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Typically, strains that are selectively bred are domesticated, and the breeding is sometimes done by a professional breeder. Bred animals are known as breeds, while bred plants are known as varieties,...

 to find its way home over extremely long distances. The wild rock pigeon has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its own nest and its own mate. This made it relatively easy to breed from the birds that repeatedly found their way home over long distances. Flights as long as 1800 km (1,118.5 mi) have been recorded by birds in competition pigeon racing
Pigeon racing
Pigeon racing is the sport of releasing specially trained racing pigeons, which then return to their homes over a carefully measured distance...

. Their average flying speed over moderate distances (500 miles) is around 80 km/h (50 mph), but speeds of up to 177 km/h (110 mph) have been observed in top racers for short distance (100 miles).

Homing pigeons are referred to as carrier pigeon
Carrier pigeon
A carrier pigeon is a homing pigeon that is used to carry messages. Using pigeons to carry messages is generally called "pigeon post". Most homing or racing type varieties are used to carry messages. There is no specific breed actually called "carrier pigeon"...

s when they are used to carry messages.

History

The Egyptians
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 and the Persians first used carrier pigeons 3,000 years ago. They also were used to proclaim the winner of the Olympics.
Messenger pigeons were used as early as 1150 in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 and also later by Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

. In Damietta
Damietta
Damietta , also known as Damiata, or Domyat, is a port and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile, about north of Cairo.-History:...

, by the mouth of the Nile, the Spanish traveller Pedro Tafur
Pedro Tafur
Pedro Tafur was a Spanish traveler and writer. Born in Córdoba, to a branch of the noble house of Guzmán, Tafur traveled across three continents during the years 1436 to 1439. During the voyage, he participated in various battles, visited shrines, and rendered diplomatic services for Juan II of...

 saw carrier pigeons for the first time, in 1436, though he imagined that the birds made round trips, out and back. The Republic of Genoa
Republic of Genoa
The Most Serene Republic of Genoa |Ligurian]]: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, as well as Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean....

 equipped their system of watch towers in the Mediterranean Sea with pigeon posts. Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan , also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. He was the son of Hyder Ali, at that time an officer in the Mysorean army, and his second wife, Fatima or Fakhr-un-Nissa...

 used carrier pigeons. They returned to the Jamia Masjid mosque in Srirangapatna
Srirangapatna
Srirangapatna is a town in Mandya district of the Indian state of Karnataka...

, which was his headquarters. The pigeon holes may be seen in the mosque's minarets to this day. In 1860, Paul Reuter
Paul Reuter
Paul Julius Freiherr von Reuter was a German entrepreneur and later naturalized British citizen...

, who later founded Reuters
Reuters
Reuters is a news agency headquartered in New York City. Until 2008 the Reuters news agency formed part of a British independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data...

 press agency, used a fleet of over 45 pigeons to deliver news and stock prices between Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 and Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

, the terminals of early telegraph lines. The outcome of the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 was also first delivered by a pigeon to England. During the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 pigeons were used to carry mail between besieged Paris and the French unoccupied territory. Possibly the first regular air mail service in the world was Mr. Howie's Pigeon-Post service from the Auckland
Auckland
The Auckland metropolitan area , in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with residents, percent of the country's population. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world...

 New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 suburb of Newton
Newton, New Zealand
Newton is a small suburb of Auckland City, New Zealand, under the local governance of the Auckland City Council. It had a population of 837 in the 2001 census....

 to Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island is a large island of New Zealand, situated to the north-east of central Auckland in the outer Hauraki Gulf. With an area of it is the fourth-largest island of New Zealand's main chain of islands, with its highest point, Mount Hobson, rising...

, starting in 1896. Certainly the world’s first 'airmail' stamps were issued for the Great Barrier Pigeon-Gram Service from 1898 to 1908. Homing pigeons were still employed in the 21st century by certain remote police departments in Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 state in eastern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 to provide emergency communication services following natural disaster
Natural disaster
A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard . It leads to financial, environmental or human losses...

s. In March 2002, it was announced that India's Police Pigeon Service messenger system in Orissa was to be retired, due to the expanded use of the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

. The Taliban banned the keeping and/or use of homing pigeons in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

.

Navigation

Research has been performed with the intention of discovering how pigeons, after being transported, can find their way back from distant places they have never visited before. Most researchers believe that homing ability is based on a "map and compass" model, with the compass feature allowing birds to orient and the map feature allowing birds to determine their location relative to a goal site (home loft). While the compass mechanism appears to rely on the sun, the map mechanism has been highly debated. Some researchers believe that the map mechanism relies on the ability of birds to detect the Earth's magnetic field
Earth's magnetic field
Earth's magnetic field is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth's inner core to where it meets the solar wind, a stream of energetic particles emanating from the Sun...

. It is true that birds can detect a magnetic field, to help them find their way home. A light-mediated mechanism that involves the eyes and is lateralized has been examined somewhat, but recent developments have implicated the trigeminal nerve in magnetoception
Magnetoception
Magnetoception is the ability to detect a magnetic field to perceive direction, altitude or location. This sense plays a role in the navigational abilities of several animal species and has been postulated as a method for animals to develop regional maps.Magnetoception is most commonly observed in...

. Research by Floriano Papi (Italy, early 1970s) and more recent work, largely by Hans Wallraff, suggests that instead pigeons orient themselves using the spatial distribution of atmospheric odors, known as olfactory navigation
Olfactory navigation
Olfactory navigation is a hypothesis put forward to explain navigation and homing of pigeons, in particular the homing pigeon.There are two principal versions. Papi’s mosaic model proposes that pigeons construct a map from the distribution of environmental odours, within a radius of 70-100 kilometres...

. Near their home lofts, in areas they have previously visited, pigeons probably are guided by visual landmarks.

Various experiments suggest that different breeds of homing pigeons rely on different cues to different extents. Charles Walcott at Cornell was able to demonstrate that while pigeons from one loft were confused by a magnetic anomaly in the Earth it had no effect on birds from another loft a mile away. Other experiments have shown that altering the perceived time of day with artificial lighting or using air conditioning to eliminate odors in the pigeons' home roost affected the pigeons' ability to return home.

Some research also indicates that homing pigeons navigate by following roads and other man-made features, making 90 degree turns and following habitual routes, much the same way that humans navigate.

As carrier pigeons

When used as carrier pigeons in pigeon post
Pigeon post
Pigeon post is the use of homing pigeons to carry messages. Pigeons were effective as messengers due to their natural homing abilities. The pigeons were transported to a destination in cages, where they would be attached with messages, then naturally the pigeon would fly back to its home where the...

 a message is written on thin light paper and rolled into a small tube attached to the bird's leg. Pigeons can only go back to one "mentally marked" point that they have identified as their home. So "pigeon mail" can only work when the sender is actually holding the receiver's pigeons. White homing pigeons are used in Release Dove
Release Dove
A release dove refers to any breed of domestic pigeon used for ceremonial release. Release doves are often used to commemorate important milestones of life and offerings of hope at weddings and birthdays and as representing the soul's final journey at funerals...

 ceremonies at weddings, funerals, and some sporting events.

In war

Birds were used extensively during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. One homing pigeon, Cher Ami
Cher Ami
Cher Ami was a registered Black Check Cock homing pigeon which had been donated by the pigeon fanciers of Britain for use by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France during World War I and had been trained by American pigeoneers...

, was awarded the French Croix de guerre
Croix de guerre
The Croix de guerre is a military decoration of France. It was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. The decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, and in other conflicts...

 for his heroic service in delivering 12 important messages, despite having been very badly injured.
During World War II, the Irish Paddy
Paddy (pigeon)
Paddy was an Irish carrier pigeon awarded the Dickin Medal after being the fastest pigeon to arrive back in England with news of the success of the D-Day invasion, out of hundreds dispatched...

, the American G.I. Joe
G.I. Joe (pigeon)
G.I. Joe was a pigeon noted for his service in the United States Army Pigeon Service.During World War II, G.I. Joe saved the lives of the inhabitants of the village of Calvi Vecchia, Italy, and of the British troops occupying it...

 and the English Mary of Exeter
Mary of Exeter
Mary of Exeter was a carrier pigeon who served with the National Pigeon Service during World War II. She was awarded the Dickin Medal in November 1945 for showing endurance on war service despite injury. She was owned by Charlie Brewer, a cobbler from Exeter. She served with the National Pigeon...

 all received the Dickin Medal
Dickin Medal
The Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 in the United Kingdom by Maria Dickin to honour the work of animals in war. It is a bronze medallion, bearing the words "For Gallantry" and "We Also Serve" within a laurel wreath, carried on a ribbon of striped green, dark brown and pale blue...

. They were among 32 pigeons to receive this award, for their gallantry and bravery in saving human lives with their actions. Eighty-two homing pigeons were dropped into Holland with the First Airborne Division Signals as part of Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time....

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The pigeons' loft was located in London which would have required them to fly 240 miles to deliver their messages. Also in World War II, hundreds of homing pigeons with the Confidential Pigeon Service
Source Columba
According to a 2007 newspaper report, Source Columba was the code name for the Confidential Pigeon Service, an unconventional British intelligence gathering operation in World War II....

 were airdropped into northwest Europe to serve as intelligence vectors for local resistance agents. Birds played a vital part in the Invasion of Normandy as radios could not be used for fear of vital information being intercepted by the enemy.

In computing

The humorous IP over Avian Carriers
IP over Avian Carriers
In computer networking, IP over Avian Carriers is a humorously intended proposal to carry Internet Protocol traffic by birds such as homing pigeons. IP over Avian Carriers was initially described in RFC 1149, a Request for Comments issued by the Internet Engineering Task Force written by D....

 (RFC 1149) is an Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 protocol for the transmission of messages via homing pigeon. Originally intended as an April Fools' Day RFC
April Fools' Day RFC
Almost every April Fools' Day since 1989, the Internet Engineering Task Force has published one or more humorous RFC documents, following in the path blazed by the June 1973 RFC 527 entitled ARPAWOCKY, which parodied Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem Jabberwocky...

 entry, this protocol was implemented and used, once, to transmit a message in Bergen
Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 on April 28, 2001.

In September 2009, a South African IT company, based in Durban
Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

, pitted an 11-month-old bird armed with a data packed 4GB memory stick against the ADSL service from the country's biggest internet service provider, Telkom. The pigeon named Winston took an hour and eight minutes to carry the data 80 km (49.7 mi). Including downloading, it took two hours, six minutes, and 57 seconds for the data to arrive, the same amount of time it took to transfer 4% of the data over the ADSL

See also

  • List of pigeon breeds
  • American Show Racer
    American Show Racer
    The American Show Racer pigeon is known as the "Bird of Dignity".The breed began in the early 1950s with the finest Racing Homers selected for their breed type. Levi mentions Show Pen Racers in his book The Pigeon. He describes the early development of the breed in the U.S.A. and early breeders of...

  • Domestic pigeon
    Domestic Pigeon
    The Domestic Pigeon was derived from the Rock Pigeon. The Rock Pigeon is the world's oldest domesticated bird. Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets mention the domestication of pigeons more than 5,000 years ago, as do Egyptian hieroglyphics.Research suggests that domestication of pigeons was as early as...

  • Dovecote
    Dovecote
    A dovecote or dovecot is a structure intended to house pigeons or doves. Dovecotes may be square or circular free-standing structures or built into the end of a house or barn. They generally contain pigeonholes for the birds to nest. Pigeons and doves were an important food source historically in...

  • Olfactory navigation
    Olfactory navigation
    Olfactory navigation is a hypothesis put forward to explain navigation and homing of pigeons, in particular the homing pigeon.There are two principal versions. Papi’s mosaic model proposes that pigeons construct a map from the distribution of environmental odours, within a radius of 70-100 kilometres...

  • Pigeon intelligence
    Pigeon intelligence
    Pigeons have featured in numerous experiments in comparative psychology, including experiments concerned with animal cognition, and as a result we have considerable knowledge of pigeon intelligence.Available data show, for example, that:...

  • Pigeon post
    Pigeon post
    Pigeon post is the use of homing pigeons to carry messages. Pigeons were effective as messengers due to their natural homing abilities. The pigeons were transported to a destination in cages, where they would be attached with messages, then naturally the pigeon would fly back to its home where the...

  • Pigeon photography
  • Tippler
    Tippler
    A Tippler is a breed of domestic pigeon bred to participate in endurance competitions. Flying results of up to 22 hours have been reported .-Origin:...

  • War pigeon
    War pigeon
    Pigeons have long played an important role in war. Due to their homing ability, speed, and altitude, they were often used as military messengers. After World War II, they ceased being used.- Nineteenth century :...

  • Otto J. Zahn, who established a pigeon messenger service from Santa Catalina Island to the mainland of California

Books

  • Chico, The story of a Homing Pigeon in the Great War Lucy M Blanchard, Diggory Press, ISBN 978-1846850394

  • Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
    Jerry Spinelli
    Jerry Spinelli is an author of children's novels on adolescence and early adulthood. He is best known for the novels Maniac Magee and Wringer....

    .


The definitive publication listed below as it appeared in "The Thoroughbred"

1 * Nine Champions part 1

2 * Nine Champions part 2

3 * Nine Champions part 3

4 * Nine Champions part 4

5 * Nine Champions part 5

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK