Carrier Pigeon

The use of carrier pigeon for sending messages in far off distances is an old practice. Carrier pigeons are not a specific breed of pigeons, but it is a trained homing pigeon. Read on to know more.
The system of exchanging messages with the help of pigeon is called pigeon post. During World War I, carrier pigeons were nothing less than couriers adopted by both sides. Though other means of communication had developed in the World War II, pigeons were still preferred for passing information. With this brief history, let's try to learn more about carrier pigeon, its application and raising tips.

By carrier pigeon, we mean homing pigeons in general, which were used for passing messages in previous times (before the invention of communication devices). The typical messenger pigeons used several years ago carried lightweight things on their way back home, i.e., in only one way. Thus, carrier pigeons were first transported to another location, from where the message had to be delivered. There are also citations that mention the usage of homing pigeons for sending urgent drugs.

Homing pigeons are created as hybrids from the rock pigeon (scientific name Columba livia domestica) that exhibits peculiar homing ability. This bird tends to come back to its own nest (and own mate). What differentiates a messenger type pigeon from the remaining pigeon species is, it find its way back to its mentally marked home as its nest, even after flying to far off distances. To be more precise, a homing pigeon specifically trained as messenger is called a carrier pigeon.

Usually, a message written on a lightweight paper is rolled first, and then attached to the pigeon's leg with a thread. A carrier pigeon handler raises and trains homing pigeons of various breeds for carrying messages from another location. After being trained properly, these kinds of bird can carry up to 75 g weight. At times, you will come across bird centers and online sites that put carrier pigeons for sale.

How to Raise a Carrier Pigeon?

Indeed, pigeon post is by far an interesting way for long distance communication. For many bird lovers, 'is the carrier pigeon extinct' has been a common query. Well, it is not an extinct bird. While carrier pigeons are not an absolute necessity for carrying messages in today's date, many hobbyists are fascinated with these lovely birds and prefer keeping them for fun. Raising this homing pigeon is no different from the usual way of keeping pigeons as pets. The challenges lie in the training part.

If you have a passion for bird keeping, you can even rear and train a homing pigeon to serve as a carrier pigeon. Believe me, it will be fun to own a bird that can carry your message (in a small paper) from another destination. Of course, you need to take out time and spend some effort for training your pet bird. In the first year, your pet pigeon needs to be maintained in a comfortable crate with lots of food and water. Also, you are expected to spend enough time with your pet bird.

After the bird gets acclimatized to its cozy bird house or loft, you can start with the actual training process. Take your pigeon away from home (about one mile in the first try) and release it. As it feels hungry after some time, it will surely return to its nest. You can wait near its loft and feed your pigeon with good food, that it loves the most. Likewise, increase the flight distance gradually, and it will surely make its way back home. Allow your carrier pigeon to fly back a distance of about 70 miles.

As you see, raising a homing pigeon is not as difficult as it sounds. For using as a carrier pigeon, you can give your pet bird to the other person with whom you want to exchange messages. Besides this, using canaries and carrier pigeons in mines is still followed today. They help in predicting the presence of harmful gas in mining sites. If canaries return after visiting mines, methane gas is absent in the mines, and vice versa.
By Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Published: 2/5/2011
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