Pigeon fanciers from around the world race specially bred homing pigeons over distances up to 600 miles. These stalwart and intelligent birds course the skies at speeds greater than 60 miles an hour. In 2005, a homing pigeon flying home to a loft in Norfolk, Virginia earned the record for that year. It covered more than 250 miles at an average speed of 2,040 yards per minute, at times exceeding 70 miles an hour.
Written by Todd Peterson
This is BirdNote!
[Sounds of Rock Pigeon]
Remember the World War I movies with the rumble and crash of artillery [Sounds of artillery], the doughboys in their trenches, anxiously awaiting word of the attack? And then the messenger pigeon, fluttering to the lieutenant’s hand with vital news? [Sound of Rock Pigeon taking flight]
Today messenger pigeons are called homing or racing pigeons [flapping of caged Rock Pigeon]. Pigeon fanciers, who also call themselves “flyers,” race specially bred homing pigeons over distances up to 600 miles. These stalwart and intelligent birds course the skies at speeds greater than 60 miles an hour. A young bird flying home to a loft in Norfolk, Virginia, earned a record, by covering more than 250 miles at an average speed of more than a mile a minute, at times exceeding 70 miles an hour. [Sound of Rock Pigeon taking flight]
How do they find their way? They draw their position from landmarks and the sun, as well as from their keen sense of smell and hearing. They’re also capable of navigating using the earth’s magnetic field. However they do it, there is something deeply appealing—for birds and people—of finally finding your way home.
To learn more about the amazing abilities of birds, find your way to BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein.
Audio of Rock Pigeons provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by A.L. Priori. Sound of Rock Pigeon taking flight by Martyn Stewart, Naturesound Productions.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org March 2018 / 2021 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID#032106pigeons homing-01c (new master)