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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there!

I am currently in high school and doing a science research project on homing pigeons, and was wondering if you guys could help! Just a bit of an introduction..I made this account a couple of years ago when I was in 8th grade. I was planning on being an active member and posting a lot, but then I received some messages from a supposed admin that said I had to download this program or I would be ISP-banned. Not wanting to download the suspicious program, I decided that my only option would be to abandon my account forever :(

So flash forward a couple of years and here I am, doing a research project. I logged on just today and realized that the messages were in fact a scam/spam, and that I was never going to be banned in the first place! Silly me.

The reason why I chose pigeons for my topic is because I own a pet pigeon myself, who was hatched from racing pigeon parents but is now a pet. He's a red saddle homer and very nice (most of the time).

Now, to get to the point...
I am doing a project on trying to discern pigeons' HOMING ABILITY. There has been lots of research done on this already, but I'm hoping to contribute even a teeny bit to this topic.

If you guys don't mind, I was hoping to ask a couple of questions. I dimly remember another student doing something similar on here, which is why I decided to come to this site to ask for your guyses' help!!

1.) What physical qualities do your best homers have?
2.) Are your pigeons able to home at night?
3.) In what circumstances have your birds had trouble getting home? (inclement weather, flying over places with magnetic field interference)
4.) Have any of your pigeons ever walked home? (navigated by land instead of air)
5.) ...I'll think of more questions to ask!

One more thing:

Do you think getting some more pigeons of my own will help? I am not letting my pigeon out to fly because he's never really practiced homing before and I'm worried he'll get lost or injured. Also, he's very lazy and probably won't go anywhere...If I do buy pigeons though, they will probably not home from further out than 25 miles. Will their flights still give conclusive results?

Thanks so much for your time!! I know I wrote a LOT, sorry for the length. I really appreciate this! :)
 

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Hi there!

I am currently in high school and doing a science research project on homing pigeons, and was wondering if you guys could help! Just a bit of an introduction..I made this account a couple of years ago when I was in 8th grade. I was planning on being an active member and posting a lot, but then I received some messages from a supposed admin that said I had to download this program or I would be ISP-banned. Not wanting to download the suspicious program, I decided that my only option would be to abandon my account forever :(

So flash forward a couple of years and here I am, doing a research project. I logged on just today and realized that the messages were in fact a scam/spam, and that I was never going to be banned in the first place! Silly me.

The reason why I chose pigeons for my topic is because I own a pet pigeon myself, who was hatched from racing pigeon parents but is now a pet. He's a red saddle homer and very nice (most of the time).

Now, to get to the point...
I am doing a project on trying to discern pigeons' HOMING ABILITY. There has been lots of research done on this already, but I'm hoping to contribute even a teeny bit to this topic.

If you guys don't mind, I was hoping to ask a couple of questions. I dimly remember another student doing something similar on here, which is why I decided to come to this site to ask for your guyses' help!!

Hey mate, I will give it my best shot but I am far from experienced.

1.) What physical qualities do your best homers have?
I think a lot of it comes down to whats in their head. All homers have the body to get them home IMO. Its the determination and drive to get home that makes a good homer
2.) Are your pigeons able to home at night?
No, Pigeons that fly at night will be in the air for the full hours of darkness or make a crash landing and usually get injured
3.) In what circumstances have your birds had trouble getting home? (inclement weather, flying over places with magnetic field interference)
There are soo many factors that stop a bird making it home, BOP - hawks etc, weather, bad birds.
4.) Have any of your pigeons ever walked home? (navigated by land instead of air)
My flatmate had a bird make it home from picton to blenheim here in NZ with a clipped wing. you can work out the km's if you want but it is quite a distance.
5.) ...I'll think of more questions to ask!

One more thing:

Do you think getting some more pigeons of my own will help? I am not letting my pigeon out to fly because he's never really practiced homing before and I'm worried he'll get lost or injured. Also, he's very lazy and probably won't go anywhere...If I do buy pigeons though, they will probably not home from further out than 25 miles. Will their flights still give conclusive results?

Thanks so much for your time!! I know I wrote a LOT, sorry for the length. I really appreciate this! :)
I think getting pigeons of your own will help, There is so much you can learn from having pigeons, my pigeons teach me so much every day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Okay guys, thanks so much for your help! :)

I already own a homing pigeon but I'm not planning on letting him out to fly because he's a pet. So that probably wouldn't help, would it?

If I release my racing birds from around ~25 miles away, is that sufficiently unfamiliar enough for them as to be able to clock results? Because I don't think I can bring them out 100+ miles on a regular basis :(
 

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25 miles would be ok for research, It will not tell you much about which birds will be better at which distances but it would give you an idea of the poor quality birds.
 

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I don't have time to chime in at this very moment but I wanted to say that you should have ignored that message a long time ago as it was spam - you don't have to download anything to be a member here.
And I wanted to say that homers can home perfectly fine at night and they can home blinded as well. When they were used in the war(s) night flights were not uncommon and scientists have flown homers with contacts to blindfold them and they landed within feet of the loft and some on the roof.
 

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I don't have time to chime in at this very moment but I wanted to say that you should have ignored that message a long time ago as it was spam - you don't have to download anything to be a member here.
And I wanted to say that homers can home perfectly fine at night and they can home blinded as well. When they were used in the war(s) night flights were not uncommon and scientists have flown homers with contacts to blindfold them and they landed within feet of the loft and some on the roof.
WOW, thats amazing, you learn something everyday.
 

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Yes they do, along with many other things. It's like people who are blind, they rely on their other senses to guide them. Hearing and smell is hightened in people who can't see. For the most part, we believe they use sight (using memory and landmarks, and sun position), sound, smell, and most importantly the Earth's magnetic field. If you haven't already, you should look around on youtube and watch Pigeon Genuis. It was a Nat. Geo. documentary I believe. They did several experiments with the different homing theories and when it came down to it, they basically figured that the best birds will draw on all their senses if they have to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow, that's really cool. I never knew that either! So most likely the homing ability of pigeons comes from a combination of all those factors, huh? I kept thinking it was only one. And definitely, I'll be sure to watch that! I bet it'll help a bunch with this research as well. :D

I was hoping to somehow hone down on one certain aspect of their homing skills. Exactly how I haven't figured out yet though :p I was hoping get a loft for the future pigeons as well as create a small...bonus room of sorts. And their nesting boxes would be at one end, and I'd place them at the other end, and turn off the lights and test how they navigate the 15-odd feet back? Like maybe play a certain frequency sound (that doesn't irritate the pigeons of course) or somehow change the scent of the interior? Would that work, testing pigeons' homing ability from such a ridiculously short distance? And whatever distracts them the most would be indicative of what helps them the most in homing? It would basically be a modified loft- I'd let them out to fly around most days and maybe once a week I'd test their homing abilities in the lab loft thing?

Sorry, it's getting really late here and I'm rambling. I'll probably log back on tomorrow and see that this post made no sense whatsoever! I guess another question of mine is: What's the minimum distance for measuring a pigeon's homing ability? Or being able to observe what affects it?

Thanks for all your responses, guys! :D I really appreciate it!
 

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I would say 80 miles is a good gaige of their true ability.

I agree 100% that once they know a way home they use all sorts of senses to home, What is the main sense they use on that initial flight/toss to find home is another squestion, I think a good test which would involve a lot of losses would be to actually see how far you can consistently toss pigeons on their first toss ever and get a good number back to the loft. A lot of people start at 1 mile and then slowly teach them how to home but that is not a true test of the birds " homing ability " IMO. Talk about rambling lol
 

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My dad used to fly his pigeons at night, some times if its a clear night we could hear pigeons fly over, they fly just as good as in day time.

they can also home to a moved or moving loft.
smart critters:D

moving combat lofts and night flying
http://pigeonsincombat.com/

facts
http://www.deterapigeon.com/21-amazing-facts-about-pigeons.htm
http://ehrweb.aaas.org/ehr/parents/Pigeons!.html

moving loft
http://www.sheldrake.org/Onlineexp/offline/pigeons/index.html

returns after 10 years
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...on-returns-owner-gave-away-TEN-years-ago.html

longest homing pigeon flight
http://www.unz.org/Pub/Colliers-1943dec25-00006
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
80 miles? Hmm, all right. I think I can at least make that trip a couple times! And I really like your suggestion about figuring out how they orient themselves from the initial toss; my uncle used to own homing pigeons and he always mentioned how interesting it was to watch the birds circle in the sky once they had been let out and always know in what direction home was.

Another idea I've been mulling over is seeing how pigeons respond to visual, olfactory, magnetic, etc stimuli. I would then try to tie that into their homing ability. Does anyone here know if it's plausible to measure the brain waves of these pigeons during flight with EEG? I know that MIT conducted a study like that, but I was hoping to do a much smaller scale version, and maybe focus on their brain activity during the initial toss.

And yes, I was very surprised to learn that pigeons can fly at night too! Usually I observe them nesting somewhere during that time, but that certainly doesn't mean that they don't fly :) You learn something new about pigeons everyday!

I also thought that pigeons' ability to home to new lofts was amazing too. No other animal that I know of can do so, or at least not to such an accurate degree. I will be sure to read up on all those links! Hopefully I can incorporate all your guyses' suggestions into my research- they all are great! Thanks so much again for your time!

I usually post at nighttime, so if you still have suggestions, keep them coming! :D I will continue checking on here (and maybe post a picture of my own saddle homer when I get the time)
 
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