21 AMAZING FACTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT PIGEONS
Editor`s note: This is the third in the series which I started earlier in the year. The information comes from a website published by Jones and Son Pet Control Supplies Ltd.
9. WHY DO PIGEONS BOB THEIR HEADS. The pigeon has side mounted eyes unlike humans and owls which have forward facing eyes. As pigeons have monocular vision rather than binocular vision, they bob their heads for depth and perception. The pigeon`s eyes work much better with stationary images and therefore, as the pigeon takes a step forward the head is temporarily left behind. The next step jerks the head forward again and so on. The allows the bird to correctly orient itself.
10. PIGEON-GRAM AIR MAIL SERVICE. The first organized pigeon air-mail service was started in 1896 between New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef. The sinking of the SS Wairarapa off the Great Barrier Reef, with the loss of 134 lives, was a catalyst for the service. News of the disaster did not reach New Zealand for three days and as a direct result, a pigeon-gram service was set up between the two islands. The first message was carried in January of 1896 and it took less than 1.75 hours to reach Aukland. Up to five messages were carried by each pigeon with the record time for the journey being held by a pigeon called Velocity, taking only 50 minutes and averaging 125 kmh (only 40% slower than a modern aircraft). Special pigeon-gram stamps were issued at a cost equal to 20 cents with the fee being paid in cash before the pigeon was released.
11. PIGEONS IN WALL STREET. One of the richest and most famous families in the world amassed its wealth, certainly in part, as a result of exploiting the pigeon. In the early 1800s, the Rothschild family set up a network of pigeon lofts throughout Europe and used homing pigeons to carry information between its financial houses. This method proved to be quicker and more efficient than any other means of communication available at the time. The speed of the service combined with the ability to send and receive information ahead of the competition helped the Rothschild family amass a fortune that still exists today.
12. MATING HABITS OF THE PIGEON. The feral pigeon mates for life and can breed up to eight times a year in optimum conditions, bringing two young into the world each time. The frequency of breeding is dictated by the abundance of food. The eggs take 18 to 19 days to hatch with both parents incubating the eggs. Young dependant pigeons are commonly known as squabs. Both parents feed the young with special `pigeon milk` that is regurgitated and fed to the squabs. Each squab can double its birth weight in one day but it takes four days for the eyes to open. When squabs are hungry, the `squeak` while flapping their wings and as a result are also commonly known as `squeakers`. At approximately two months of age the young are ready to fledge and leave the nest. This much longer than average time spent in the nest ensures that life expectancy of a juvenile pigeon is far greater than that of other fledglings.