Tuesday, January 22, 2008

If you Love Pigeons, You are in Good Company

Charles Darwin - (theorist) Scientist and Author whose writings include " On the Origin of Species (1859) The Descent Of Man (1871), The Voyage Of The Beagle (1909)" and a "A variety of plants and animals under domestication". Together with Wallace, offered the theory of evolution. Darwin kept all kinds of breeds of pigeons and who showed us that all breeds can be traced to Columba livia, the wild rock dove. He had a loft with a variety of fancy breeds which he used to develop his hypothesis of "Theory of Domestication" using selective breeding techniques. He was an active member of some London pigeon clubs, and reference to his pigeons and his scientific results is published and available on-line.

Pablo Picasso - (artist). Picasso loved pigeons so much that he named his daughter Paloma, which means pigeon in Spanish. Picasso's father also kept pigeons and specialized in painting the same.

Nicola Tesla. - American electricity pioneer. See: http://www.mercury.gr/tesla/lifeen.html.
"He used to have a walk every day in the park to feed the pigeons. If for any reason, he could not carry out this duty, he would pay a child to feed the pigeons in his place. There is a strange relation mentioned with a white pigeon which every day visited Tesla through his open window. He was kicked out of a few high brow Hotels for that, he would bring in injured birds and try to rehab them in the room. Tesla said that his life had a meaning as long as this pigeon existed, and indeed when the pigeon died, Tesla's work ended."

Isaac Bashevis Singer -In "PIGEONS" Singer wrote the most beautiful story I know about the Holocaust. Not surprisingly, it does not take on the subject directly but symbolically. The story has to do with one Professor Eibeschutz, a scholar who has taken to feeding the pigeons on the street below his apartment. He tells his Polish maid Tekla that doing so is more important to him than going to synagogue. "God is not hungry for praise," he reasons, "but the pigeons wait each day from sunrise to be fed. There is no better way to serve the Creator than to be kind to his creatures." One recalls here that, when asked why he had turned vegetarian, Singer said that he did it not for his own but for the chicken's sake.

Woody Allen - "I think people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics."

Walt Disney -Walt Disney was awarded the NPA Levi Service Award for the movie "Pigeon Fly Home".

Senator Hilaire La Haye, -Secretary to the Belgium Govt, he named his birds after prominent members of the Belgium Government.

Alexander Alexandrovich Romanova III - The Batiushka-Tsar of Russia kept his pigeons in a house like a small palace at Gatchina until his sad and surprising death in the Crimea in 1894. These pigeons were named "Ostanski Golubi" and "Pokrovski" that he acquired from his brother Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich Romanova after watching them fly as the young Tsarevich at Tsarskoe Selo.

Karl Hagenbeck - Who kept all kinds of breeds at his zoo in Hamburg, Germany. Hagenbeck was the first or among the first to do away with cages at his zoo, using moats instead.

Andy Capp - famous cartoon character.

Dr. Jean Hansell - "People just don't make the connection between the dove of peace and the pigeon in the street."

Jim Jenner - A pigeon enthusiast and filmmaker from Montana who has dedicated much of his life to making educational documentaries about his favorite bird. "For the past fifty years, I've watched the total erosion of respect for the bird," Jim says. "One of the world's most revered creatures and one of nature's most phenomenal athletes has been reduced to the status of vermin in the minds of the general public." Jenner is right, of course: Once a war hero, the feral pigeon is now the underdog of the animal kingdom.

Pigeons were brought to the United States by the first settlers. It is thought that they originated in Southern Asia. They have a typical lifespan of about 15 years, and the oldest known pigeon lived to be 33 years old. Like most humans, pigeons have a strong sense of family and devotion to their children. They mate for life, and both parents care for their young. They flock in large numbers in order to protect themselves against cats, hawks, owls, and rats. During breeding season, when there are many baby birds, both male and female pigeons produce milk in their crops, and all parents will feed all babies, whether or not they are their own.

Pigeons are known to be very intelligent. They quickly commit new images to memory and organize information in the same way that humans do. They can even distinguish between paintings of different styles and by different artists.

Pigeons also have excellent vision. They can see not just color, but also ultraviolet light. They can see far better than humans can and also are able to concentrate on a visual task for many more hours than we can—a discovery that led to a joint Coast Guard and Navy venture called Project Sea Hunt, in which pigeons were used to spot orange life vests at sea.

By sensing the Earth’s magnetic field through the use of a magnetic “map” inside their beaks, pigeons are able to return to their home roosts even when released in a new location several thousand miles away. The ancient Egyptians and Romans used pigeons as reliable messengers, Reuters News Service was originally created with a network of message-carrying pigeons, and pigeons have been used to carry messages in times of war.

In World War I, a pigeon named Cher Ami delivered a vital message to the famous “Lost Battalion.” Cher Ami saved nearly 200 human lives but was shot on his way and was blinded and lost a leg on his final flight. In World War II, a pigeon named GI Joe saved at least 1,000 allied soldiers’ lives by making it back to camp in the nick of time carrying a message that allied troops had just occupied a city about to be bombed. He was awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry by the Lord Mayor of London.

"Cher Ami" was a registered Black Check Cock carrier pigeon, one of 600 birds owned and flown by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France during World War I.

He delivered 12 important messages within the American sector at Verdun, France. On his last mission, "Cher Ami," shot through the breast by enemy fire, managed to return to his loft. A message capsule was found dangling from the ligaments of one of his legs that also had been shattered by enemy fire. The message he carried was from Major Whittlesey's "Lost Battalion" of the 77th Infantry Division that had been isolated from other American forces.

Just a few hours after the message was received, 194 survivors of the battalion were safe behind American lines .

"Cher Ami" was awarded the French "Croix de Guerre" with Palm for his heroic service between the forts of Verdun. He died in 1919 as a result of his battle wounds. "Cher Ami" was later inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931 and received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Racing Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of his extraordinary service during World War I.

"Cher Ami" is on display at the National Museum of American History, Behring Center, in the exhibition "The Price of Freedom: Americans At War."

Prepared by the Armed Forces History Collectionsin cooperation with the Public Inquiry Mail Service 12/01

Pigeons are beloved in books and film and have been featured in many movies, including the Michael Landon film Where Pigeons Go to Die and the Charlton Heston film The Pigeon That Took Rome. The 2005 Valiant tells the story of a pigeon hero in the Royal Air Force.

Humans have long recognized the likable qualities of pigeons and have made pigeons a large part of their lives. Such “pigeon fanciers” include Queen Elizabeth II, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Yul Brynner, Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Elvis Presley, Charles Darwin, Walt Disney, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso.



11 comments:

margo said...

I too love pigeons! A Lot! Andf nobody around me understands my affection for these adaptable, intelligent, socuable creatures. I feed them in my back garden and have had my same pigeon friends returning year after year! So glad to have found good company!

Adriana said...

I LOVE pigeons!!!!!!! nobody understands me ether about it! They always say there "rats of the sky" BUT thier sooo cute! and they do the funniest things! I don't know how they can't see it. They're missin' out!

Anonymous said...

I also love pigeons and cannot understand why there is so much hatred towards such beautiful animals. We are so lucky to have them share our cities with us. I can watch them for hours. Log live the pigeons!

Anonymous said...

I have always loved pigeons ever since I was a child. Back in my home country my family had over 100pigeons. They would leave home and wander around all day but at the end of the day they would still return home.I have always been amazed by how intelligent and magnificent they were. Now

Adriana said...

That is super cool.

Anonymous said...

Pigeons are very lovely creatures, i have one in here in my loft chilling with me right now.

Anonymous said...

My Pigeon "Toro" is so cute! I raised his, since he was a baby. Pigeons are so smart, and curious. I let my pigeon free, and he dosent ever leave, so I builded him a pigeon coop, and now theres about 10 of them there! check my pet pigeon toro out on youtube!= "My pet pigeon toro" there is 3 funny videos of him, He is a very dominating pigeon, an alpha male..

Anonymous said...

Pigeons are the best! They eat most of my bread and I am happy to see the usual gang around each day. Dirty? I reckon some people are more dirty than they are, Pigeons are always cleaning themselves.
I love the sounds they make, especially in the morning when they wake me up and want food.

Anonymous said...

I cannot accept that Woody Allen is in this list!
He is responsable of making popular the horrible slur "rats with wings" in one of his movies.

Pigeon from Argentina

Anonymous said...

I love pigeons too. There is a pigeon couple that visits my balcony every day to eat the birdseed I leave for them. When they first started coming, one of them would stand guard on the railing while the other one would eat. Now they must feel safe because they both eat at the same time. I'm still trying to figure out which is the male and which is the female.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I love pigeons. They are so chill. They don't fly away from you unless you are on a collision course with them, they never attack anything, they kiss and get consent before sex, and they don't poop as much as people say, given their numbers.

I fell in love with pigeons ever since I started heading into the city.