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Scuiry Scuiry is offline
Posted 24th January 2008, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Oakland, CA USA
Posts: 562

Tesla's Pigeon

Can anyone identify the pigeon shown in this search?


The pigeon shown here is allegedly the one kept by Nikola Tesla, the famous early 20th century engineer who invented A/C electrical technology. At the end of his life he is said to have kept a pet pigeon that would visit his apartment in NY city. It reminds me a little of the "Dove of Archbishop John" story I've posted here and elsewhere.

Tesla had become a recluse at the end of his life after years of paranoia over Soviet "death rays". The term "mad scientist probably first became associated with him. He died shortly after his pigeon friend died. A friend of mine shared this story from a biography about him:

From PRODIGAL GENIUS: The Life of Nikola Tesla by John J. O'Neill:

"I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them, for years; thousands of them, for who can tell --

"But there was one pigeon, a beautiful bird, pure white with light gray tips on its wings; that one was different. It was a female. I would know that pigeon anywhere.

"No matter where I was that pigeon would find me; when I wanted her I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me. She understood me and I understood her.

"I loved that pigeon."

"Yes," he replied to an unasked question. "Yes, I loved that pigeon, I loved her as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. When she was ill I knew, and understood; she came to my room and I stayed beside her for days. I nursed her back to health. That pigeon was the joy of my life. If she needed me, nothing else mattered. As long as I had her, there was a purpose in my life.

"Then one night as I was lying in my bed in the dark, solving problems, as usual, she flew in through the open window and stood on my desk. I knew she wanted me; she wanted to tell me something important so I got up and went to her.

"As I looked at her I knew she wanted to tell me -- she was dying. And then, as I got her message, there came a light from her eyes -- powerful beams of light.

"Yes," he continued, again answering an unasked question, "it was a real light, a powerful, dazzling, blinding light, a light more intense than I had ever produced by the most powerful lamps in my laboratory.

"When that pigeon died, something went out of my life. Up to that time I knew with a certainty that I would complete my work, no matter how ambitious my program, but when that something went out of my life I knew my life's work was finished."

Stories like this are both touching and scary. For me, the thought of my life possibly ending all alone with only a pet or animal as my friend is sobering. But when life brings us to our knees we sometimes are comforted by these special graces and are better able to experience beauty and love. Knowing and loving pigeons has helped me see the whole world in a much deeper way.

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Pidgey Pidgey is offline
Posted 24th January 2008, 09:38 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Tulsa, OK
Posts: 12,522

You will find this post of this thread to be interesting, then:


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ryannon ryannon is offline
Posted 24th January 2008, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Country: No Country For Old Men
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 278
I'd vaguely heard of Tesla's 'affair' with a pigeon, but never bothered to follow the story up.

Thanks for a really interesting post; when a guy like Tesla gets interested in pigeons you can be sure that there's more than meets the eye, so to speak.

As for finishing life old and abandoned with only a pigeon for company - hey, it could be worse: old and abandoned with no pigeon for company!

feeding pigeons, pet pigeon

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