12 Amazing facts about pigeons | Characteristics of pigeon

Pigeons are one of the most popular birds on the planet and are sometimes referred to as “rats with wings,” mainly because of the movie Stardust Memories.

However, even though we all know what pigeons are, there are many things about them that you probably have no clue about.

Luckily, today you will get to know X amazing facts about pigeons that you may not have known before. 

Facts about pigeons:

1. Pigeons were one of the heroes of WWI and WWII

Did you know that pigeons saved thousands of people during the 20th century? In both of the World Wars, innumerable pigeons were once used as messengers by countries.

As a matter of fact, the USA alone had 200,000 pigeons for this job during World War II. 

They were used to deliver important updates and information about the wars going on, and through these messages, they were able to save so many human lives; the number at least goes up to thousands.

Because of the efforts of a pigeon called Cher Ami, 194 stranded US soldiers were rescued on the 4th of October, 1918. 

2. Pigeons can reach their nests even if they are 1300 miles away 

Pigeons, even when alone, can find their way back to their homes from 1300 miles away, and that is a really remarkable sense of direction for any bird.

It should also be noted that it is still a mystery as to how exactly they do it because a number of studies proved that they could achieve this feat without any visual, olfactory, or magnetic hints. 

Whatever might be the reason, this innate talent of pigeons has been exploited by humans since at least 300 BC as ancient people used to follow pigeons to reach a nearby land. 

3. Pigeons were companions of great scientists like Charles Darwin and Nicola Tesla

In Victorian England, everyone from wealthy merchants to common masses liked to engage in pigeon-breeding. There were some, however, who were a little more passionate about it than others, and Charles Darwin was one of them.

A diverse flock of pigeons was once owned by Darwin, and he was also a member of London pigeon clubs and socialized with well-known breeders.

His enthusiasm for this activity can be observed in the book that was published in 1868, “The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication”, as it includes two chapters just about pigeons. 

Another great name associated with pigeons is Nicola Tesla, who was actively involved in caring for injured wild pigeons during his stay in a New York hotel room.

A white female pigeon was his favorite one, and he admitted his love saying that- he has loved that pigeon, like a man, loves a woman, and she loved him back.

Related Read: Are White Pigeons Rare? | How rare are they

4. Pigeons are probably the first bird to be domesticated

According to many studies, the first bird ever to be domesticated by humans was Columba livia, which is a common city pigeon and is commonly called ‘the rock pigeon’.

They have been observed in ancient art dating back to 4500 BC in modern Iraq, and they have also served as a food source for humans for millennia. 

Related Read: Types of pigeons | Here are some of the rare fancy varieties

5. Pigeons can be trained to become art lovers

A Japanese psychologist Shigeru Wantable and two of her colleagues trained pigeons to distinguish between the paintings of Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso.

These psychologists were also awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for this groundbreaking discovery. 

Moreover, these trained pigeons also became adept at recognizing paintings of other impressionist and cubist painters by utilizing their understanding of impressionism and cubism.

6. Pigeons are amazing multitaskers

One of the many unique characteristics of pigeons is also that they are great multitaskers. In fact, they are better at multitasking than most humans, according to research by scientists at Ruhr-Universitat Bochum. 

The reason for this was attributed to the close density of nerve cells present in the brains of pigeons that possibly allows them to do faster processing of information than humans in certain situations. 

7. Pigeons With White Rump Feathers Distract Falcons

If your pet pigeon has a white rump feather, it is very much safe from the falcon.

As per a study, thousands of pigeons were used for the research, comprising 20-25% pigeons with white rump feathers. The rest had blue rump feathers.

However, despite their population, the death rate of white rump feathers in a falcon chase was just 2%.

Scientists swapped the rumps by clipping and pasting the different feathers and noticed that falcons did not kill the pigeons with white rump feathers pasted on them. The reason is that the white rumps distract the predators.

8. Pigeon Droppings Are Useful

It may tick you off, as most people have only heard that it causes allergies and infections. But if you mix the pigeon droppings in compost mix, it can act as a great fertilizer.

You will be shocked to know that in the 16th, 17h, and 18th centuries, their droppings were considered very useful, and guards needed to guard the pigeon lofts so no one could steal them.

Also, it was used as a facial cream. In a period movie, you must have noticed the beautiful queen applying the parrot or pigeon droppings on her face.

9. Pigeons Are Considered as Ancestors

Every religion has its myths and superstitions, or you can call them beliefs. Whether Hindu, Muslim, Sikhs, or Christian, you will find a pigeon reference everywhere.

In India, many consider that when a person dies, they become pigeons, and thus feeding pigeons means taking care of deceased loved ones.

Sikh Warrior Guru Gobind Singh also had a rock pigeon. Thus, Sikhs consider that if they feed pigeons, they will never starve in their next life.     

10. Pigeons Produce Fake Milk

Pigeons don’t have organs like mammals to produce and feed milk to their offspring. Thus, they produce fake milk, which is known as “crop milk”.

Both male and female pigeons produce it. They produce it in a part of their esophagus, where they store food. Both parents feed it to their newly born until the baby grows up to 4 weeks or so.

11. Pigeons-Gram Mail Service

In 1896, the need for a safer service was felt when a ship sank with 134 people aboard between Great Barrier Island and New Zealand.

It was a catastrophe that was not notified until three days after the event due to the non-availability of such service.

Thus, pigeon-gram mail service was established, and in January 1896, the first pigeon completed its journey from Great Barrier Island to New Zealand in 1.75 hours. It was huge.

Then pigeons were the official postman who used to carry 5 messages at a time. They used to carry these messages at a speed of 125 kmph on average.

12. Why You Never See A Baby Pigeon?

It is normal to see a little chick playing with hens, but it is rare to see a baby pigeon. That’s not because pigeons are strict parents, but the baby pigeon only leaves the nest at least 2 months old.

The baby grows significantly during this period, and both the parents take great care of it. When the pigeon comes out, you find it hard to believe that it is a baby, but it helps the youngster a lot as it is grown-up than other mature species.

Conclusion

Looking at the various amazing facts about pigeons above, it is safe to say that they are a unique and marvelous species of birds. These lesser-known facts about pigeons are enough to invoke anyone’s curiosity towards them, and you are now one of them too. Keep following us to know more about pigeons.

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