Have you ever had a pigeon nest on your balcony? Then you’re familiar with their endurance and nuisance. Pigeons from a distance are adorable and delightful to watch but once they start interfering with our daily life, that’s a different matter.
Pigeons have been known for various good traits and it’s only fair to try and learn a thing or two about these amazing birds. In that context, we’ve prepared 36 interesting facts about pigeons that’ll make you see them in a different light…
Pigeons have been around humans for many thousands of years. 5,000 years old Mesopotamian tablets have been found illustrating the domestication of rock doves, a breed of pigeon.
They have a worthy mention on Egyptian Hieroglyphs tablets as well, which were used until 400 AD by the Ancient Egyptians.
History has suggested that they have been a companion of humans for more than 10,000 years and in all probability even go beyond that.
Pigeons have played a very important role in saving a countless number of lives throughout history because of their homing skills as well as their pace.
They have conveyed messages evading enemy fires and poisoned gases during both World War 1 and World War 2 to rescue the army and the navy stuck in deadlock situations.
The Pigeons on their laurels have been bestowed with several awards, one of them being the Dickin Medal, which was given to honour the bravery of animals in World War II.
During the World War era, Pigeons were known to be faster than telegraph messages. Pigeons are still used by the French, Iraqi, and Chinese armies.
There are over 300 different species of pigeons that can be found throughout the world (except in the Sahara desert, on the Antarctica and Arctic).
Besides a large number of pigeons in the wild, hundreds of thousand pigeons live in captivity.
The size of the pigeon depends on the species. Large pigeons can reach 19 inches in length and 8.8 pounds of weight. Small pigeons can reach 5 inches in length and up to 0.8 ounces of weight.
Pigeons can have dull or colorful plumage, depending on the habitat and type of diet. The most common type of pigeon (that lives in the cities) has greyish plumage.
On average, a pigeon has 10,000 feathers on the body.
Pigeons are our most common urban bird.
They are amazingly resourceful creatures, able to survive in the midst of predatory humanity.
Even so, up to 35% of a local population may perish annually from natural causes and predators.
Pigeons flock together in large numbers to protect themselves against, cats, rats, and foxes.
Even when times are tough and the weather is freezing and stormy, they co-operate with each other and readily accept outsiders into their flock.
They have easy temperaments and are adaptable and hardy, which no doubt accounts for their ability to maintain numbers.
The most widespread misconception about urban pigeons is that they are carriers of diseases.
The truth is that the vast majority of people are at little or no health risk and probably have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than contracting a disease from a pigeon.
Although pigeon droppings are seen by some as a problem in modern society, a few centuries ago pigeon guano was seen as an extremely valuable fertilizer.
Both parents take an equal role in caring for their young.
The chicks are helpless when first hatched and are fed for the first few days on ‘pigeon milk’ regurgitated from both parents’ throats.
Pigeons can survive more than 30 years in the wild.
The phenomenal navigational abilities of pigeons largely depend on their keen vision and memory for landmarks. Over the centuries these qualities have become legendary.
Pigeons have excellent hearing abilities. They can detect sounds at far lower frequencies than humans are able to, and can thus hear distant storms and volcanoes.
Pigeons have exceptional eyesight and the ability to identify objects on a distance of 26 miles.
Research has proved that pigeons use the earth’s magnetic field and the position of the Sun to find their way to the destination and that could easily be over a distance of 100 km.
The Champions breed use landmarks as well as roads to determine their location. Some studies have suggested that they also use their sense of smell while flying to reach their destination.
Pigeons are incredibly complex and intelligent animals. They are one of only a small number of species to pass the ‘mirror test’ – a test of self-recognition.
They can also recognise each letter of the human alphabet, differentiate between photographs, and even distinguish different humans within a photograph.
Did you know there is a specific breed of Pigeons called Racing Homer that were and are still used in the sport of racing? It is a sport where the trained pigeons are raced and the distance covered and the time taken is measured to evaluate the speed of all participant birds.
In the 19th century, this sport became so popular that the 1900 Olympics held in Paris contested a Pigeon racing event.
Pigeons can fly at altitudes up to and beyond 6,000 feet, and at an average speed of 77.6 mph. The fastest recorded speed is 92.5 mph.
Pigeons are fed by many members of different religions including Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs for spiritual reasons. Some older Sikhs will ceremoniously feed them in honour of Guru Gobind Singh, a high priest who was renowned as a friend to pigeons.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about pigeons that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!