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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I have always wondered this, but back during the war there were pigeon buses that worked, I think, like mobile lofts.

I have always wondered this but how do the pigeons just stay on the bus and not fly away to where ever they need to go? In the pictures the pigeons seem to perch outside on top of the bus loft and also in other pictures they are seen flying in the background. Is it that the bus is their home loft and this is where they return when released? But since the bus is mobile and moved around how do they find it again?

Makes me wonder if a high walled open top box truck would be a perfect candidate for a mobile pigeon loft home or maybe one of those fancy wing open box trucks.

Side and rear walls? Open Top?


1,287 Posts
Hi, that's a really interesting topic the one of war pigeons
. They really helped us a lot and saved many lifes. Real heroes!

I'm going to tell you what I know about the use of mobile lofts by the Italian army in the period of the Great War.

Pigeons were used to fly messages between the front lines and the command centres. In add to stationary lofts (like barns, attics, towers or removable shacks) there were also two kinds of mobile lofts:

- loft "buses": special buses fitted as lofts which could contain from 90 to 100 pigeons;

- loft "trailers": two wheels wagons with pneumatic tires fitted as lofts which could contain from 100 to 120 pigeons. They were carried by trucks having a coupling device.

The mobile loft was preferably located in a calm and sunny area, protected from wind and humidity, far away from wooded areas, telephone and telegraph lines.

The loft exit door was oriented to south-east; the ground all around the mobile loft was levelled to allow an easy rotation of it.

The pigeons were kept closed inside the loft for about 3/4 days; in this period they could observe outside from the grilles

At regular intervals the mobile loft was rotated, a quarter turn, on itself, on right or left direction: this way the pigeons could observe all the area all around them and memorize it.

About 10 days after the placement of the mobile loft, when pigeons had adapted to the new location, the training started: it could last also a month and a half. As pigeons had to be able to identify the mobile loft, flights were operated, every two days, from an increasing distance: 1 - 5 - 10 - 15 - 20 km far away from the loft.

When the mobile loft was populated by youngsters who had never flown outside the training was easier. Vice versa, if the pigeons had already flown outside or carried messages in a different area, they needed more time to adapt themselves to the new place.

At the end of the training, baskets of pigeons (wicker baskets) were transported to the trenches. They were kept in wall wooden cages divided in 4 compartments.
During this period (usually some days) training flights were operated : as pigeons missed their loft (which was their house) and the other birds living there, they quickly returned to the loft.

This is the website of the french museum of homing pigeon:


You can find there some interesting photos (especially in the section "Espace photos anciennes")
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