Pigeon-Talk banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,852 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got done watching a History Channel show about ancient spys and military methods.

One section of the show was about how they could send messages across spans of land, and keep it secret.

The History Channel reported that there were three basic often used methods.

1. Rider on a horse delivering a message.
2. What they referred to as a "Carrier Pigeon".
3. Various stations that used a series of torches to send something akin to "morse code"

The History Channel conducted an experiment with all three, that was a "race" to send a message four miles.

At first it seemed that the torches should win because nothing is faster than the speed of light. However, due to having to do one letter at a time, at a station approximately every eight miles, this actually came in last. It took two sets of five torches at each station. An example would be that if they raised 4 torches on the left and five torches on the right, it would indicate a "Y". Five on the left and five on the right would indicate a "Z". The torches would be raised and lowered by humans.

The horse appeared to be winning and covered the four miles at an average speed of 9 miles an hour.

The homing pigeon arrived four miles away at an average speed of 32 miles an hour. Making it the speed winner. But the homing pigeon actually did what it was supposed to do and went home. It did NOT live at the finish line. However, it carried a GPS tracking device and they just used the time it actually covered a distance of four miles for this "test".

Each method has its drawbacks. The horse and rider could be attacked. The torches could be seen by anyone (but they would have to break the code). The pigeon, as they said on the show. Could only go one way, whereas the torches and horse could go both ways or any direction.

I would argue the pigeons could also carry messages both ways though, but I won't go into that.

So, the homing pigeon was clearly the winner for ancient message delivery. The mind could conceive that EASILY the homing pigeon would win over greater distances.

They say that the world goes round in circles. So, when Al Gore invents the Super Galactic Solar Powered Electronic Pigeon, we may be back in business for spy use. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,138 Posts
The pigeon, as they said on the show. Could only go one way, whereas the torches and horse could go both ways or any direction.

I would argue the pigeons could also carry messages both ways though, but I won't go into that.

:D

If you had them trained on the boomerang system and made them trap at the feed station then you could make them go both ways and read messages at both ends.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,852 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I wonder what would happen if a bird had a mate and nest at one location and was only fed at another location. They would probably have to be relatively close though.

Is this the boomerang system you refer to?

I read where the Army Pigeon Corps had two way pigeons, or at least experimented with it. They also experimented with pigeons that flew at night (now that would be handy for the long races).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,138 Posts
IN the bomerang system you have the loft and the feed spot. I would suspect that if the feed spot was anouther loft they would learn to trap there and eat pretty easily. You basically take the birds to 10-20 miles and put food in the basket and on the ground and release the birds without making them flush. No food at home and after a week or so when you release them they will fly to the release spot and find food then come back to the loft.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,138 Posts
Here is an article.


Boglin Marsh: The Boomerang System of Pigeon Racing
As related to me by Capt. W. (Bill) Mather.
CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
It is a well known fact that pigeons were used on the Boomerang Two Way System to carry messages during the last war. So while I obviously did not invent the system, I do claim that I helped to perfect it, while serving as a Signal man and later as an officer in the Indian Pigeon Service, from 1942 until 1945.

The Indian Pigeon Service was formed in 1941, when a small draft of Signals personnel, under the very capable leadership of Major Swarbrick, was allotted the immense task of organising a pigeon service in a gigantic country like India. The hazards of climate, distances, disease, hawks, killer ants, white ants and scores of other obstacles were tremendous. To a large extent all were overcome and at any rate they were exciting, interesting and eventful years that we spent together.

I had been in India some time when the Indian Pigeon Service was formed and any fancier will realise how pleased I was when I heard that I was to receive my transfer to the new pigeon section. Right at the start I was very keen to listen tom the stories of other fellows who had been on experimental Boomerang work back home. At first we did no Boomerang training at all, it was considered to be a long drawn out affair and difficult to lay on quite a two way short service. I had other ideas and asked to be allowed to try my hand at putting on a four mile service; to the great amusement of all concerned, my request was granted. I was given a few very doubtful looking specimens of pigeons and three weeks in which to complete the task!

I had no previous experience of the system whatever and all of the chaps wanted to bet that I just wouldn't be able to do it in three weeks; but I did have one advantage and that was that I should be allowed to do it in my own sweet way! I knew that the official method of laying on a Boomerang system of service was, broadly speaking, to first train the birds to feed from a crate or a box, complete with bob wires, outside the loft and then release them, whereupon they entered the loft for water. After this, the feeding crate had to be moved in very easy stages, until the required distance was reached. This of course took endless time and even when the crate was moved in very easy stages of only a few hundred yards the birds would take days to get used to it and would repeatedly visit the previous site in an effort to find food.

This to my mind was completely unnecessary and the wrong approach; I was of the firm opinion that the crate could be moved or jumped any required distance up to twenty five miles. To cut a long story short, I did not require the three weeks, nor anything like it, that had been allowed to me for my very first Boomerang effort. The service was working perfectly in exactly five days! Later on, with experienced Boomerang pigeons and a further improvement by very good friend Sergeant S. A .Hardy (of Hardy Bros. Forrest Hill F.C.) we were able to lay on a sixteen mile service within three days through thick jungle country, where one spot was indistinguishable from any other. The speed with which the birds completed their two-way trips always fascinated me; even poor specimens of birds were able to put up good times under very trying conditions and we had a few really good birds relaying messages through tropical monsoon storms!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,138 Posts
anouther piece of article

The Indian Pigeon Service used the Boomerang System, where pigeons were trained to fly both ways between two lofts - one to feed, the other to nest and were able to do this and navigate through dense jungle over 25-30 miles and behind enemy lines in Burma and Malaya. Some of these lofts recorded over 1,000 successful flights with message carrying pigeons and the true value was in the number of lives that were not placed into positions of further risk, due to the valuable information obtained.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
131 Posts
That's really neat. I wonder if the show you saw is NetFlixable. Google doesn't like the word "NetFlixable" LOL. Maybe I'll "add it to the dictionary." Pigeons are amazing!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,852 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That Indian method is exactly what I came up with in a matter of seconds. Nest in one place and feed in another, for maybe 40 miles maximum.

I must be Indian! :)
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top