Pigeons are birds that possess a firm body, short head and legs with grey feathers. Belonging to the bird’s clad Columbidae, these birds usually eat seeds and fruits. They are found almost all over the world but the most diverse variety of pigeons is known to be in the Indo-Malaya and Australasia eco zones.
Pigeon takes its name from a French word. This word was actually derived from a Latin word “Pipio” which means “peeping chick”. The young ones of Pigeons are called squabs. Although these birds are found commonly all over the world, still 10 species of pigeons have become extinct today. Read on to find out some more about this amazing bird.
Interesting Facts about Pigeons
Some unique and fascinating pigeon facts are discussed below for your perusal and literary enjoyment.
Pigeons have been found in the art of old Mesopotamia (Iraq) which is around 3000 BC old. They have been with humans as long as the history dates back. They were first bred by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia.
Reference in Bible
Pigeons have been mentioned in the first Testament of Bible. These birds can be found in the story of “Noah and the dove of Peace”. They have also been mentioned in the New Testament with the Baptism of the Christ. Their Image is commonly used in the Christian art.
Pigeons in War
There have been many pigeons which have helped their respective armies at the time of war. A famous pigeon which saved the lives of thousands of people in the World War 2 was the famous G.I. Joe. It flew 20 miles in 20 minutes to convey a very important message. The bird was also awarded the “Dickin medal” for its bravery.
In World War I, “Cher Ami” saved lives of many. It achieved this goal by not only simply delivering an important message but also by dodging its way through poisonous gas to bring the message. Unfortunately, it was shot in the leg. However, the brave bird still managed to do the job. As a result, it was honored with the French ‘Croix de Guerre’.
The Pigeon Guano
Not only the pigeon but the pigeon guano is of great importance to us. Today, we consider it to be a nuisance, but in earlier days it was considered to be the best fertilizer among all other types. The guano was so useful that guards were kept at the pigeons houses to save it from being stolen! It was considered to be much more effective than the farmyard manure.
The Importance of Pigeon in Different Religions
Pigeons have been mentioned in different books and religions. They are sacred in almost all the religions including Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism and Christianity. Even the monks feed and look after the pigeons as a good omen. On the other hand, Sikhs feed pigeons to honor their priest who was known to be very close and friendly with this bird. Hindus also believe that when they die, their soul takes the form of a pigeon. Therefore, by feeding pigeons they are taking care of their dead ones. Sikhs also believe that when they reincarnate, they will take the form of pigeon. So, if they feed pigeons, they would never go hungry in their next life.
Pigeons are the oldest known form of long distance communication. They have been used by almost all the famous civilizations to send messages to one another. The largest communication network of pigeons was set up in Syria and Persia in the 5th century BC. They have been used to send messages even in the war time. During peace time, the communications about any trade, games, Olympics or news was sent through pigeons. For this reason pigeons are set free at the beginning of the Olympics to symbolically thank this bird for the services it rendered in the past.
An interesting fact about pigeons lies in the manner how they bob their heads. As their eyes are facing sideways, their vision is monocular. To adjust their view and get an in-depth focus, they have to bob their head. They can better view the things that are static as compared with moving objects. When they move forward, their head remains static while their body moves ahead. Once the body has moved, they bring their head forward. Therefore with every step their heads bob after them. This also contributes to their head bobbing.
The Financial Master
Pigeons or homing pigeons have been used by the famous rich Rothschild family in the 1800s to send and receive messages amongst its various financial houses. This is usually referred to as the network of pigeon lofts. The Wall Street is indebted to pigeons for their valuable service to the giants of Wall Street. There are also some medals commemorating the initiation of the Pigeon Post in Paris 1870.
Pigeons’ Accurate Navigat
There are many theories regarding how pigeons can return home from miles away. How do they know where to go to send messages and then return home accurately? This is a very unique quality of this bird that no other bird has. After a ten year long research work at the Oxford University, it was claimed that pigeons actually get their hints from roads and motorways. They even change routes and paths at junctions to trail the path they need to follow. Other theories believe that they can sense and get hints from the earth’s magnetic field. They get their visual clues from the landmarks, sun, trees and infrasound, etc.
Pigeon’s Bonding with its Young One
The main reason that we never see a squab or a young pigeon easily is because unlike other birds—which leave their kids to fly off on their own in a few days—pigeons don’t let their babies leave the nest for almost two months. For two whole months, the mother and father pigeon feed and protect their young one. They also train them to fly and find food, but don’t let them be on their own until they are mature enough to survive.
Pigeons have been considered sacred in many religions and societies. They have played a great role in early communication. It is our duty to protect the endangered species of pigeons and look after the old companion of mankind.