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Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)

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Carrier Pigeons Go to War

In World War I, carrier pigeons were crucial in relaying messages from the front to positions behind the lines. The most renowned was Cher Ami - or Dear Friend - flown by the US Army Signal Corps during the Battle of Verdun in France. The message Cher Ami carried on October 4, 1918, was vital in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Pigeon Flocks Follow the Leader

The flocking movements of homing pigeons are governed by a pecking order. Higher-ranked birds have more influence over how the flock moves. Leading birds change directions first, and followers swiftly copy the leader's movements. And birds at the front of the flock tend to make the navigational... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Homing Pigeons

Pigeon fanciers from around the world race specially bred homing pigeons over distances up to 600 miles. These stalwart and intelligent birds course the skies at speeds greater than 60 miles an hour. In 2005, a homing pigeon flying home to a loft in Norfolk, Virginia earned the record for that... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Bad Bird Jokes

A pigeon pacing up and down anxiously in Central Park sees his friend hop up on the curb. "Where have you been? I've been waiting for hours!" The new arrival says, "It was such a nice day, I decided to walk!" This laugh track also includes gulls, ducks, and chickens. Email us your own bird jokes,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

Peregrines and Pigeon Plumages

Urban Peregrine Falcons rely on Rock Pigeons for much of their diet. But some pigeons appear harder to catch than others. Pigeons with white rumps evade pursuing falcons more often than those with dark rumps. When scientists took dark-rumped pigeons and colored their rumps white, their survival... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Rock Pigeon, Urban Bird

The Rock Pigeon is the quintessential urban bird. Early European settlers at Jamestown and Plymouth introduced it to North America in the 1600s, and it is now found across the entire country. Flocks roam parks and city streets and sit on wires and billboards.Be part of our flock of supporters,... read more »

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Pigeon Babies Do Exist

Rock Pigeons are one of the most common urban birds. But why do we never see baby pigeons? Some baby birds - like down-covered ducks, geese, and chickens - leave their nest shortly after hatching and do a lot of growing up while following their parents around. Others, like pigeons, depend on... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Rock Pigeons: Bobbleheads

A Rock Pigeon bobs its head as it walks, making it appear that its head and feet are linked. Pigeons' eyes are on the sides of their heads, permitting them to watch for predators from all directions, but limiting their ability to distinguish distances. To compensate, these birds move their heads... read more »

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Parking Lot Birds

You can find birds nearly everywhere. Even parking lots. Next time you're at a mall, grab a coffee, take a seat outside, and look around you. How many different species of birds can you see? Crows and gulls command the rooftops. Rock Pigeons abound. A European Starling-like this one-picks up the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Asleep on a Perch

When birds like these Rock Pigeons retire for the night, they seek a place to roost. And while the world of birds includes a variety of sleeping arrangements, many songbirds, such as cardinals or finches, sleep perched in the safety of dense trees or shrubs. When they fall asleep, they stand on... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

From Egg-laying to Hatching and Beyond

Waterfowl like this Muscovy duckling spend up to 30 days in the egg, so they’re able to walk, swim, and feed themselves as soon as they hatch. We call these chicks precocial. By contrast, the chicks of most songbirds spend less time maturing in the egg. They must continue to develop in the nest... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting, ornithology

Wing-clapping

For most birds, wings are for flying. But for Rock Pigeons, they’re also for clapping. When the pigeons erupt into flight, some may slap their wings together above their bodies in a “wing clap.” A male Rock Pigeon will also do this when courting. Short-eared Owls have evolved wing-clapping, too.... read more »

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