Animal Article
Pigeons: The ‘Coo’lest Bird
Justine Padayao

The Pigeons already existed, even before the humans. This is based from the fossils discovered by the scientists. Since then, the humans started to capture and raise pigeons for food some for racing and others for carrying messages.

Pigeons were used to deliver messages, like the results of the First Olympic Games in 1896 held in Greece. They were also used as messengers during the World War. News photographers also used the pigeons to deliver the films to developers just in time for the next issue of a newspaper or magazine. The message was written in a small piece of paper and was then inserted in a small sealed metal canister attached to the leg of a pigeon that was labeled to return to a specific location.

For some people, pigeon racing is a sport. They specially breed and train pigeons; such that they release pigeons from specific locations then they train them to race back to their home lofts. The time it takes for pigeons to cover the specified distance are measured and the bird’s travel rate is calculated then compared to other birds in the race and determines which animal returned at the highest speeds.

Pigeon in Action

Pigeons have outstanding navigational abilities. Scientists believed that the reason for this is that the pigeons can detect earth’s magnetic fields. It’s like their brains work like a compass to figure out the directions. Others believed that the pigeons can tell direction just by looking at the sun in the sky. A study at Oxford University found out that these birds use landmarks such as roads and rivers as signposts.

They are complex and intelligent animals. There was a study in New Zealand that suggests pigeons can distinguish between groups of different numbered objects. They can also learn abstract mathematical rules. There was also a study in France where they discovered that pigeons can recognize individual people, most likely by their facial characteristics. Pigeons can also recognize themselves in the mirror and can recognize each letter of the English alphabet.

These animals also have exceptional eyesight and can identify objects on a distance of 26 miles. Pigeons unlike humans can see ultraviolet light, a spectrum that humans cannot. They have a very sensitive hearing, were they can able to detect distant storms, volcanic eruption and earthquakes.

Pigeons are very social animal that lived in small flocks of around 20 - 30 birds. They are monogamous creature meaning they have one couple mate for a lifetime. When it comes to reproduction, couple pigeon can produce 8 broods per year given that food is abundant and they share the responsibility.

Pigeons have incredible speed and endurance. They have strong muscles that are used in flying. They can fly at a speed of 50 to 60 miles per hour that is why they are used in racing.

Man may no longer need the pigeons because of the advancement in technology like delivering of a message can be done with just a click on the computer or cellphone. But still, these lovely creatures played a vital role in the history and other than that they also have religious significance in different religions. They lived before us and survived with close association with man for over 10,000 years and I believe that they will still do well in the near future.