The homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon (Columba livia domestica) derived from the rock pigeon, selectively bred to find its way home over extremely long distances. The wild rock pigeon has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its nest and mate. This made it relatively easy to breed from the birds that repeatedly found their way home over long distances. Flights as long as 1,800 km (1,100 miles) have been recorded by birds in competitive pigeon racing. Their average flying speed over moderate distances is around 80 km/h (50 miles per hour) but speeds of up to 140 km/h (90 miles per hour) have been observed in top racers for short distances.

Their skills made them used to carry messages as carrier pigeon or messenger pigeons. They have been used in many places around the world. They are usually referred as "pigeon post" or "war pigeon" during wars. Birds were used extensively during World War I. One homing pigeon, Cher Ami, was awarded the French Croix de guerre for her heroic service in delivering 12 important messages, despite having been very badly injured.

Homing pigeon in "Uncle Alf"Edit

Feldgendarmerie Sergeant Adolf Hitler had experience using pigeons as messengers during the Great War in 1914. While hunting for the French agitator Jacques Doriot in Lille, he posed as a pigeon-fancier to gain access to private clubs he thought might contain subversives since pigeons could be used to send secret messages. He succeeded in gaining entry and the confidence of the members of the Lille Society of Pigeon-fanciers, and soon found a lead to a meeting where Doriot was speaking.[1]


  1. See, e.g. Atlantis and Other Places, pgs. 350-352, HC.

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