During the Franco Prussian war, Parisians used hot air balloons to deploy flocks of homing pigeons out of their city to countryside and vice versa.
With the advent of micro photography in the 19th century pigeons could carry as many as 30,000 messages by a single bird.
It wasn’t until 1942 the Army finally authorized an organic veterinary detachment for all the pigeon units deployed overseas.
Each unit of a veterinary Corps had an officer who was either first Lieut. or Capt. and then one enlisted technician.
A company unit was divided into three combat platoons each with 1500 pigeons.
By organizing the birds in this way the Army was able to determine the necessary medicines and medical instruments to maintain every unit.
BF Skinner was engaged by the U.S. Army to build a “guided by pigeon” bomb system.
Pigeons were placed into the nose cone of a bomb having three windows for anywhere from 1 to 3 pigeons to look through
A metal tab was attached to the pigeons beak that tapped a metal plate.Where the pigeon tapped was the the missile control system causing a change in course.
The pigeons were trained to peck at a target. They were conditioned to keep the target centered in front of the missile
The National Defense Research Committee kicked in $25,000 for research but alas nobody in the Army took BF seriously.
Despite the pigeons having a very high accuracy rate given the fact that they can process visual information three times faster than you and I, the project was canceled in October, 1944.
In 1948 the Navy deployed project Orcon (Organc control) but after five years once again project pigeon was canceled
Skinner held on to all the pigeons just to find out how long they would remember how to guide missiles.
Turns out after six years they didn’t miss a step
Why do people keep pigeons on their backyard in a shed? Why do they even like pigeons?
The bigger question is why don’t the pigeons fly away?
Most likely its because they are homing pigeons.
If the pigeons have various colors they are probably racing pigeons which means they can be taken great distances
They have special bands on their legs.
When they arrive back to their home coop they cross over an electronic sensor which tells a special remote time keeping system, arrival time which then determines how long it took the bird to fly home.
Thus they only fly back they never fly forth
If the birds are all white or there are coops with all white birds they are probably being rented out in place of doves.
When you have a ceremony and would like to have a “dove” release, it would be inhumane to use doves as the birds would be frightened and crash into trees and light poles and houses.
It would not be pretty.
Conversely there are companies that rent “white pigeons” who are trained flyers.
Once the birds are released at the event, the birds methodically fly straight home.
It’s a win-win for everybody.
I’ve written extensively about the fact that if it wasn’t for homing pigeons we might be all speaking German.
Although homing pigeons were used during World War I they were also used during World War II.
In the great war, the pigeon population in the military climb to more than half 1 million birds.
It’s really a helluva story and I tell it here
By the way pigeons are doves and vice versa – kinda – actually there are more than 300 species of pigeons and doves
what do you call a 4 door pigeon coop?
a pigeon sedan
Pigeons are still used to carry blood samples from remote regions of Britain and France,
Pigeons are still used to carry blood samples from remote regions of Britain and France, and in the United States they are able to spot shipwrecks from helicopters because of their 360-degree vision.
They are raced (500,000 pigeons cross France each weekend when the weather is good), collected (King Faisal of Saudi Arabia is said to have 150,000) and are subjected to all the vicissitudes of modern life.
In eastern India, for example, officials stopped using about 400 carrier pigeons that had served as a link between remote police stations since 1946 because of competition from the Internet and e-mail.
And drug traffickers continue to escape technological advances and surveillance by sending flocks of pigeons, each carrying ten grams of heroin, between Afghanistan and Pakistan.