Interesting And Amazing Facts About Pigeons
1. Unless forcibly separated, pigeons in a natural environment generally mate for life.
2. Male pigeons have the rare ability to produce a kind of milk for the babies just like the females do, albeit this is not like dairy milk since it is produced from the crop.
3. Newborn pigeons, weaned on the ‘pigeon milk’ of both parents, double their weight in the first two days.
4. A grown pigeon has nearly 10,000 feathers.
5. Pigeons have been known to live over 30 years.
6. In the 17th century, King George I of England decreed all pigeon droppings to be property of the Crown, and the ‘lofts’ were policed to enforce the law. Pigeon manure was used in making gunpowder.
7. With the ability to beat its wings up to ten times per second, and maintain a heart rate of 600 beats per minute for up to 16-hours without rest, the racing pigeon is the unequalled athlete of the air.
8. A famous WWI homing pigeon named “Cher Ami” finished his distinguished career by delivering a vital message: The location of the famous ‘Lost Battalion’. That mission alone is credited with saving nearly 200 human lives. “Cher Ami” was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for his heroic service. He died of his extensive battle wounds.
9. One WW II homing pigeon named “GI Joe” saved over 1000 allied soldiers’ lives in a single mission. He was awarded the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. His average speed on that flight was 60 mph.
10. Despite enemy fire, pigeons achieved a 98% success rate in missions flown in WW II, often with mortal injuries to themselves.
11. The French, Swiss, Israeli, Iraqi and Chinese armies still use homing pigeons today. Pigeons proved valuable in the Gulf War, as their messaging was not affected by electronic jamming.
12. The pigeon has the rare ability for a large bird to be able to fly nearly straight up.
13. Pigeons have been taught to use ‘tools’ and were found to retain that knowledge.
14. Studies conducted by B.F. Skinner at Harvard showed that pigeons have a visual memory that can store at least 300 objects or images indefinitely.
15. The pharmaceutical industry in Australia ‘employed’ pigeons trained to identify anomalies in pills and capsules on a moving conveyor, and remove them from production. The birds did outstanding work but authorities quickly put an end to the practice.
16. Racing Pigeons routinely maintain flight speeds of 50 to 60 mph.
17. Some pigeons reverse-commute, feeding on grain in the country, while living in the city.
18. Advanced studies at the University of Montana conclude: “Pound for pound, Columba livia (the pigeon) is one of the smartest, most physically adept creatures in the animal kingdom.”