Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s….

Never mind, it’s just a bird.

Well, not really. It’s a special kind of bird that’s known as a carrier pigeon and they’ve been serving mankind on and off for thousands of years.

The basic premise behind the whole carrier pigeon deal is that they will always find their way home. We’ll get to exactly how they do that in just a little while but in the end, nobody really knows for sure.

To make it simple, let’s assume that you have to send a message from point A to point B and you have to do it quick. Let’s also assume that these are the days before modern communications were born and there were no such things as radios, telephones, cell phone or e-mail and the thought of sending a human being across miles and miles of rough terrain would take too much time for your message to be of any worth. What’s a person to do?

Well, apparently some civilizations took notice of the pigeon and their uncanny ability to find their way home from thousands of miles away. How they discovered this remains a mystery but it is known that as far back as ancient Rome, carrier pigeons were used to tell owners of entries in chariots races how their horses had placed. It’s also well known that Genghis Khan took advantage of the birds navigational skills and set up pigeon relay posts across much of Asia and Europe. When it came to the legendary Charlemagne, he was so enamored of the bird’s abilities that he made pigeon raising an entitlement afforded only to the rich.

As a matter of fact, there is some speculation that the House of Rothschild might have been built on the wings of a bird. In the world of investments, it’s usually good to get in on the ground floor and to have some information that others don’t. A rumor abounds that the Rothschild’s might have been one of the first to receive the news about Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo and re-arranged their finances accordingly.

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In modern times, carrier pigeons are somewhat of a novelty but are still used in regions of Britian and France to transport blood samples. Mostly, they’ve been reduced to a sport and upwards of a half million pigeons are raced across the French countryside on a weekly basis.

Nobody really knows for sure how the carrier pigeon can do what they do and do it so well. One theory is that they are somehow able to get their bearings by honing in on the Earth’s magnetic field because they have tiny little magnetic tissues embedded in their tiny little bird brains that are somehow tied to their original nesting place. Other theories also exist that claim that the carrier pigeon can somehow relate their position based on where the sun is in the sky and what time of day it is. Still others claim that the pigeon is a super smelling machine and actually sniff out there final destination from miles away. The most outlandish one is that the lowly pigeon is endowed with psychic powers that call out to them from home by either their owners or nest mates.

Regardless of how they do it, over the years carrier pigeons have saved some people their lives, made some other people their fortunes and probably helped decide many a battle that shaped history and the events that followed.

Not bad for something that has the brain the size of peanut.

Source(s)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Dove
http://faculty.millikin.edu/~mdwiggins/carrier_pigeons.htm

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