Throughout human history, these birds retained their usefulness among leaders, travellers and even merchants. The use of pigeons for sending messages was popular among military leaders, especially during the Franco-Prussian War. When the Prussians covered the perimeter of the French capital and all traditional modes of communications were cut off, the pigeons took the task of sending and receiving messages for the officers.
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In the absence of the post office and mails with stamps, pigeons managed to keep the information and details flowing. Thanks to this development, training schools for birds were put up.
Experts believed that this was the inspiration for air mail stamps. In the history of the service, one well-known homing pigeon was named Cher Ami. This pigeon was the recipient of the French Croix de Guerre when it managed to deliver 12 messages even though it was suffering from injuries. Pigeons-The fascinating saga of the world's most revered and reviled bird. University of Queensland Press.
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Archived from the original on Levi Publishing Co, Inc. Observations, Experiments and Confusions" Pdf article. Journal of Experimental Biology.
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Retrieved 11 December Pigeons — The fascinating saga of the world's most revered and reviled bird. Retrieved 24 November They carry them from the place where they are bred to other places, and when the letters are detached they are set free and return to their homes. By this means the inhabitants have speedy news of all who come and go by sea or land.
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Retrieved 24 February The New York Times. Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Spatial representations and homing pigeon navigation. Spatial representation in animals. The Journal of Experimental Biology.
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Disappearing homing pigeon mystery solved. The Company of Biologists. BBC News 5 Feb, Guskov; Virginia Meskenaite; Valerii A. Kanevskyi; Hans-Peter Lipp October 23, Kanevskyi; Hans-Peter Lipp Retrieved 23 April Retrieved 17 January Reuters September 9, BBC September 10, Retrieved October 26, This article lacks ISBNs for the books listed in it. Please make it easier to conduct research by listing ISBNs.
This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. Please improve this article by removing excessive or inappropriate external links, and converting useful links where appropriate into footnote references. Retrieved from " https: Airmail Animal-powered transport Animals in sport Domestic pigeons Pigeon breeds History of telecommunications Pigeon racing. CS1 French-language sources fr CS1 maint: With the encirclement of the city on 18 September, the last overhead telegraph wires were cut on the morning of 19 September, and the secret telegraph cable in the bed of the Seine was located and cut on 27 September.
Although a number of postmen succeeded in passing through the Prussian lines in the earliest days of the siege, others were captured and shot, and there is no proof of any post, certainly after October, reaching Paris from the outside, apart from private letters carried by unofficial individuals.
For an assured communication into Paris, the only successful method was by the time-honoured carrier-pigeon , and thousands of messages, official and private, were thus taken into the besieged city. During the course of the siege, pigeons were regularly taken out of Paris by balloon. Initially, one of the pigeons carried by a balloon was released as soon as the balloon landed so that Paris could be apprised of its safe passage over the Prussian lines.
Soon a regular service was in operation, based first at Tours and later at Poitiers. The pigeons were taken to their base after their arrival from Paris and when they had preened themselves, been fed and rested, they were ready for the return journey. Before release, they were loaded with their despatches. The first despatch was dated 27 September and reached Paris on 1 October, but it was only from 16 October, when an official control was introduced, that a complete record was kept.
The pigeons carried two kinds of despatch: The service was put into operation for the transmission of information from the Delegation to Paris and was opened to the public in early November. The private despatches were sent only when an official despatch was being sent, since the latter would have absolute priority. However, the introduction of the Dagron microfilms eased any problems there might have been in claims for transport since their volumetric requirements were very small. In order to improve the chances of the despatches successfully reaching Paris, the same despatch was sent by several pigeons, one official despatch being repeated 35 times and the later private despatches were repeated on average 22 times.
The records show that from 7 January to the end, 61 tubes were sent off, containing official and private despatches.
The practice was to send off the despatches not only by pigeons of the same release but also of successive releases until Paris signaled the arrival of those despatches. When the pigeon reached its particular loft in Paris, its arrival was announced by a bell in the trap in the loft. Immediately, a watchman relieved it of its tube which was taken to the Central Telegraph Office where the content was carefully unpacked and placed between two thin sheets of glass.
The photographs are said to have been projected by magic lantern on to a screen where the enlargement could be easily read and written down by a team of clerks. This would certainly be true for the microfilms, but the earlier despatches on photographic paper were read through microscopes. The transcribed messages were written out on forms telegraph forms for private messages, with or without the special annotation "pigeon" and so delivered. The interval between sending a private message and its receipt by the addressee depended on many factors: During the four months of the siege, , official and 1 million private communications were carried into Paris by this method.
The service was formally terminated on 1 February In fact, the last pigeons were released on 1 and 3 February. The pigeons that were still alive were now official property and were sold at the Depot du Mobilier de l'Etat. Their value as racing pigeons was reflected by the average price of only 1 franc 50 centimes , but two pigeons, reported to have made three journeys, were purchased by an enthusiast for 26 francs.
The success of the pigeon post, both for official and for private messages, did not pass unnoticed by the military forces of the European powers and in the years that followed the Franco-Prussian War pigeon sections were established in their armies. The advent of wireless communication led to rising pigeon unemployment, although in certain particular applications pigeons provided the only method of communication. But never again were pigeons called upon to perform such a tremendous public service as that which they had maintained during the siege of Paris and Italy. Major-General Donald Roderick Cameron, then Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario recommended an international pigeon service for marine search and rescue and military service in a paper entitled "Messenger Pigeons, a National Question".
The pigeon post between look-out stations at lighthouses on islands and the mainland at the citadel in Halifax, Nova Scotia provided a messenger service from until it was discontinued in The pigeon post faced a heavy mortality among the pigeons as many were lost on the operations.