Catchy title, huh? What kind of communications doesn’t require electricity of some kind? Phones, radios, flashing lights and Morse code? No. What about yelling really loud, or smoke signals? They qualify but leave you either hoarse or coughing! The answer: homing pigeons! Yup, recently we have added to the menagerie of animals we keep here with my son’s homing pigeons.
How we started
Late last summer Eric spotted a pigeon on our roof. This was an unusual sight up here in the mountains miles from any city. It seemed a little tame and had a numbered band around its leg. With a little coaxing and food Eric captured the bird. We headed to the Internet with the band number. It turned out that this bird belonged in Spokane, Washington, about 240 miles away!
We contacted the bird’s owner and found out that it was released for a little 50 mile race and ended up here! He wasn’t interested in getting the bird back and said we could keep or release it. (Pidgey, as I call him isn’t the most skilled homing pigeon.) To no one’s surprise, Eric wanted to keep the bird for a pet.
That would have been the end of the matter if it hadn’t been for our stay at the county fair with the kids and their 4H projects. One day we met a man there promoting the sport of homing pigeons. He had a few for display and told us all about these interesting birds. Then, he let Eric help release 2 birds for a return flight to his home 18 miles away. Guess who was hooked? The promoter, Jeff, gave us his card and said he’d have a couple free pigeons available for Eric at the beginning of the year.
Interesting pigeon facts
- Pigeons are closely related to doves so we hear a lot of cooing from their loft.
- Homing pigeons are from Belgium, and unfortunately many were set lose in big cities, making them pests.
- Eagles and ravens aren’t big pigeon predators, because pigeons are small and fly fast. However, smaller hawks, falcons, etc. are about the size of a pigeon making it the primary predator of the air.
- Pigeons suck water, unlike other poultry, which let water slide down their throat.
- Both parents of a baby pigeon (squab) produce crop milk. Crop milk is a milky liquid produced in the parent pigeon’s crop.
So we’ve had the 4 pigeons for a few months now, and its really cool to let them out for exercise and watch them fly all around and return a few hours later! We may have to take them for some training drive/flights later this summer!
String of Backups
OK, lets review our string of communication backups. First there is the Internet, which we have our cellular phones and booster to back that up. When that fails, we always have our amateur radios for communication, and our final communications backup is the homing pigeons! Trained pigeons can fly 60 MPH and cover over 500 miles.
How are your backups going? Have you tested them recently? Backups for power, for communications, for your computer data? What backup systems are in your life? Tell us about them in the comments below!