10 AMAZING FACTS ABOUT PIGEONS
- Pigeons mate for life. They live on average 3-5 years but can live up to 15.
- All pigeons, not just homing or racing pigeons, can find their way home, even when they’re released hundreds of miles away. They may use roads (e.g. motorways), landmarks, the sun or the earth’s magnetic field for direction. Pigeons can fly at average speeds of up to 77.6 mph but have been recorded flying at 92.5 mph. They can fly between 600 and 700 miles in a single day.
- Pigeons are war heroes. In both the First and Second World Wars they saved hundreds of thousands human lives by carrying messages across enemy lines. They often had to fly through enemy fire and poison gas to deliver the messages. They have been awarded more medals for bravery in war than any other animal, including dogs and horses.
- In Roman times pigeons were used to carry results of sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, and this is why white doves are released at the start of the Olympic Games today. At the first Olympic Games held in 776 BC, every athlete taking part brought a homing pigeon from his village. If he won his event, his pigeon would carry the news home.
- In England before the days of telegraphs pigeons were often taken to football matches and released to carry home the result of the game.
- Pigeons are lifesavers. Like humans, they can see in colour, but unlike humans they can also see ultraviolet light. This is why pigeons have been used in search and rescue missions at sea as they’re excellent at spotting red and yellow life jackets floating in the water. Read the amazing story of a search and rescue pigeon.
- Pigeons are one of the most intelligent birds on the planet and are able to do tasks that only humans and primates can do. For example, they can learn to use a touchscreen, they can recognise their own reflection in a mirror, all 26 letters of the English alphabet and the difference between photographs.
- Why do you never see a baby pigeon? Because unlike most other birds they remain in their nest until they’re two months old and almost adult-size.
- Elvis Presley had a soft spot for pigeons.
Some people who have rescued injured pigeons keep them as pets. See their website at pigeonsaspets.co.uk.
Do pigeons spread diseases?
The answer is no. The likelihood of a pigeon passing on a disease to a human being is so infinitesimally small that it is not even worth considering. The commonly held view that pigeons pose a threat to human health and as a result their numbers should be controlled is a myth promoted by the pest control industry.