Carrier pigeons: how to treat them

Carrier pigeons: how to treat them

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It sounds a bit like a dream animal, the protagonist of fairy tales or history, but in truth the carrier pigeon it is a real being, it is one of the many varieties of domestic pigeon (Columba livia domestica) which originates from the eastern wild pigeon but has been carefully genetically selected so that it could count on the great and precious ability to find its way home from very long distances.

What are carrier pigeons and what are they for

The carrier pigeon is a special animal, even if it looks a lot like the pigeon that we are all used to finding on the street or crowding the squares, especially if we live in big cities. It is a faithful and reliable volatile messenger that not only knows how to orient itself in an incredible way but it is very resistant to fatigue and also to bad weather.When he is traveling, he never gives up, rain or wind does not stop him, he always arrives at his destination with the message he has been entrusted with.

Nowadays there are certainly equally reliable but faster means of communication, this homing pigeon therefore remains a pleasant hobby. Its use goes back further 3,000 years ago because the first populations to notice the animal's ability to orient were the Egyptians and the Persians making it a valuable tool even in the centuries and millennia to follow. The pigeon managed to establish itself as the primary means of communication whenever priority was high and the very valuable message. In fact, he was entrusted with important and official matters such as the names of the winners of the Olympic games.

This way of communicating depopulated for quite some time, until the telegraph was invented and all the technologies we know well today arrived, but it was not immediately sent into retirement. For a not short period it was used in a preferential way to send private and secret messages that by other means could have easily been tampered with or intercepted. The pigeon, from this point of view, was a great certainty. Our army also chose during the WWI to rely on these birds to allow the front-line operational troops to communicate with the commanders who were in more sheltered areas.

Let's imagine the means created on purpose to host the pigeons and always have them available car-colombaie, or special wagons, equipped as if they were dovecotes capable of accommodating up to 100 doves, or dovecotes towed with pneumatic tires equipped to hold up to 120 doves.

The pigeons did such an excellent service that it was decided to use them again in the Second World War even if the technologies were in the meantime advanced. There was also a heroine, "Paddy" who on June 6, 1944 flew over 230 miles to bring news to the allies relating to landing in Normandy, managing not to be intercepted or misled by the Germans. The company was rewarded but also told in 2005 with an animated film.

How carrier pigeons get back

So far we have talked about a gift, a special ability to orient themselves in space even if they are hundreds of miles away, but let's try to better observe how these birds understand which direction to take. This magic of nature is scientifically explained by the phenomenon called magnetoreception. These animals in fact have a kind of "internal compass" that perceives the Earth's magnetic field.

There are other mechanisms that help him find his way though, certainly an orientation based system position of the Sun but also one strong olfactory capacity which makes them able to recognize the smells of their nest of origin, and a memorization of some features of the landscape. There is nothing magical, therefore, nature is designed in an excellent way and even in this case we can see the results.

How to train a carrier pigeon

The best time to devote yourself to training the carrier pigeon it's spring, let's choose some days of good weather and let's get busy. We can choose at least between two training modes, what is important is to operate very gradually so that the animal gradually acquires the correct muscles for flight and the breath necessary to cover long distances.

There mixed throw technique it is considered by many to be one of the most effective and educational. They take specimens of different dovecotes and combine them to make a launch that will be very competitive and the most talented will emerge. This collective launch has a positive impact on the character of the carrier pigeon, more than the single launch where even average quality flyers can make a good impression because they follow the group leader without making a mistake. In this case 2 launches are made, the first over a distance of about 40 km and the second around 60 and the birds must be let loose one at a time at regular intervals so that they get used to not thinking as a group but as individuals.

When they train pigeons for them to become skilled travelers it is very important to take some precautions so that the results are satisfactory. First of all, we do not carry out breeding launches in the vicinity of rivers, gorges or mountain cliffs, for obvious reasons as well as the reasons why it is better to stay away from "human" dangers such as power plants, airports and military posts that add degrees of complexity to the flight of a pigeon that is still gaining its safety, they can make him lose his bearings and make him feel in danger. The good thing is that we have no limitations on the direction in which to launch the pigeon, the important thing is that it acquires launch after launch the musculature and the breath to cover ever longer distances.

Speed ​​racing pigeons

Earlier we talked about a truly talented carrier pigeon, who made a phenomenal time during the war to deliver an urgent message, but how fast do carrier pigeons normally travel, records excluded? They can fly 1,600-1,800 kilometers and the average speed in flight over distances of about 500 km is approximately 80 kilometers per hour.

How to recognize a carrier pigeon

To distinguish the traveler from the "normal" pigeon, it is necessary to pay close attention to the physical appearance, slightly different from that of the traditional pigeon. The simplest and most obvious way to recognize it is to observe the plumage which must be particularly soft and thick, bright and rich in nuances colors that a classic pigeon cannot boast. There are even more difficult differences to notice, perhaps only experienced eyes can recognize them, and then some peculiarities on a character level. Traveling pigeons are notoriously more vital and agile than others, as expected.

You may also be interested in the article on another interesting bird, the Kingfisher

Video: Baby Pigeons learning the basket. (June 2022).