The Wonderful World of Pigeons

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I was watching a cartoon called Spies in Disguise this past week and in the cartoon one of the main characters starts listing off the various special qualities of pigeons. I was amazed and I mentioned them to my husband (he was asleep during the movie) later that evening.

His first question was, “Are those ‘facts’ true?”

And my response, “Great question! Let me check!”

I’m pleased to say the answer was yes! Here are some of the most exciting pigeon discoveries I made this past week:

  1. The fastest speed recorded for a pigeon in flight was a whopping 92.5 mph
  2. Male and female pigeons take turns incubating their eggs and both secrete “pigeon milk”  or “crop milk” for their young
  3. Baby pigeons are called squabs or squeakers
  4. They are one of the few species to pass the “mirror test” which is a test of self recognition
  5. Pigeons can recognize each letter of a human alphabet
  6. They have incredible hearing and can detect sounds at far lower frequencies than humans; they can detect distant storms as a result
  7. They mate for life
  8. In the 1970’s researchers discovered that pigeons can see ultraviolet or UV light
  9. The rock pigeon is the world’s oldest domesticated bird
  10. Egyptian hieroglyphics mention the domestication of pigeons
  11. Pigeons save lives and to this day are used to carry medicine and messages in remote areas
  12. Trained domestic pigeons are able to return home from locations they have never visited before and that may be over 600 miles away

And last, but certainly not least, is my favorite pigeon fact… perhaps because I am an Air Force veteran!

  • War pigeons have been decorated for their service. During World War I a pigeon helped save the lives of 194 American soldiers. Her name was Cher Ami and she was awarded the French Croix de Guerre medal for heroic service. Cher Ami is enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution.

In short, pigeons are marvelously complex and intelligent animals. I hope these fun facts helped to deepen your appreciation for this winged wonder!


Image by @burtamus (Pixabay)