Pigeons The Messengers
Ever wondered why pigeons were trusted and relied on to deliver important messages in the old days? And how did they manage to do so with no such direction or guide?
Ever since these pigeons’ (Columba livia) highly useful abilities were discovered in Syria and Persia in about 5th Century BC, they have been extensively used. From delivering messages to troops and spies throughout the World Wars to hospitals delivering vials of fluids and blood.
After years of baffling many with their ridiculously good sense of direction, the rationale and mystery behind these homing pigeon’s amazing ability has been revealed. Such a remarkable talent is attributed to the pigeon’s ability to “ hear at far lower frequencies than humans can, down to about 0.1 Hertz. Research has shown that they can “navigate to their nests with astounding accuracy” utilizing the sound waves that emanate from the Earth as a guide, it is as though mother nature is whispering directions to them. Using these low-frequency infrasound waves, they would then “generate acoustic maps of their surroundings” and thus find their way around.
However, like most electronic devices around today, various experiments conducted concluded that the pigeon’s inherent navigation tool is not always reliable. It was found that they could be misleading when the “wind currents channeled the infrasound waves” away from the right direction. Another possible cause of a glitch is a jet airliner’s sonic boom that could interfere with the frequency and thus the orientation of the pigeons.
One of the most pressing concerns though is that the pigeon’s poop is highly dangerous if not treated. Perhaps this is also why pigeons are hardly used for messaging these days.
Dillow, C. (2013, January 2). How homing pigeons find their way home. Retrieved from http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/geologist-has-probably-figured-out-how-homing-pigeons-find-their-way-home
Ghose , T. (2013, January 30). Mystery of how homing pigeons find home solved. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/50645987/ns/technology_and_science-science/
Morelle, R. (2013, January 31). Homing pigeon ‘bermuda triangle’ explained. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21262170
Moustaki, N. (2012, March 23). All you ever wanted to know about bird poop. Retrieved from http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-diet-and-health/bird-care/bird-poop.aspx
“British troops release carrier pigeon during WWII” by Imperial War Museum: Lt EG Malindine, 02 NOV 2012 .
URL : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-02/british-troops-release-carrier-pigeon-during-wwii/4349228 (accessed on 7 April 2013)
“Homing pigeon” by Andreas Trepte, 17 MAY 2006.
(accessed on 7 April 2013)