While pigeons are incredibly common, don’t be fooled. They are very special birds. If you get up close to one, you’ll notice their beautiful colors and you might recognize them from some of the various roles that they play in our society.
Here are seven cool pigeon facts…
1. You’ve heard of homing pigeons – and home they can find – even if it’s more than 1000 miles away. Even if they are transported in the dark, they have amazing navigation skills and can find their way home.
2. They make a great substitute for Western Union. In the great World Wars, pigeons were used as messengers – delivering information that saved lives and in one case, helped rescue 194 U.S. soldiers in WWI. On Memorial Day it’s a good time to remember that birds have played a part in our history of war as well as peace.
3. In a 2016 study, scientists showed that pigeons can differentiate between strings of letters and actual words. Four of the birds built up a vocabulary of between 26 and 58 written English words!
4. No one knows why, but some types of pigeons roll backward somersaults in flight, in other words, they do backflips!
5. While they rarely get credit for it, they are one of the fastest birds – capable of spurts that challenge the 100mph mark.
6. The first known news syndication service (Reuters) started off using homing pigeons. The company (founded in 1850) picked pigeons because they could deliver information in half the time the man-made train could.
7. Pigeons are symbolic in several religions. They represent peace in Christianity, and the ceremony of feeding pigeons is a part of Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism (among other religions).
So the next time you see a pigeon, you might be tempted to brush off the encounter because they are a quarter billion of these birds flying around the world – but don’t do it. Stand back and give em a slow clap for being so dang versatile and smart.
Scott Bourne is an Olympus Visionary, a professional bird/wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He is a pioneer in digital photography and was named one of the “30 most influential photographers on the Web” by Huffington Post. His photographic experience spans four decades and his bird/wildlife images have been published in more than 200 magazines and periodicals. He is also a Signed Master at Studio of Masters in China.
Scott has been a founder, co-founder, advisor or early stage investor in several technology companies such as NetRadio, Photofocus, and ViewBug.