Did you know that...: pigeon trivia

The pigeon is still an unsolved mystery and scientists have not yet been able to explain the amazing sense of orientation of the pigeon. Did you know that...
  • the pigeon sport (pigeon fancying) is based on the pigeon’s love of its youngsters or the faithfulness between cock and hen, who are sometimes celibate until they are together in the nest.
  • the pigeon has made a great career since Noah took them on his ark.
  • pigeons have been involved in many wars and hundreds of pigeons died an honourable death, some of which were even decorated or given a statue?
  • pigeon racing is no longer the sport of the man in the street only. Today, princes, industrialists, clergymen etc. are enjoying pigeon fancying just as much.
  • the pigeon was in fact the first journalist ever. They completed the same tasks as the telephone, the fax machine and the internet can do today.
  • the pigeon was used for political and economical news coverage more than 5000 years ago. The Egyptians used the pigeon to supervise every corner of the empire of the Pharaoh.
  • they did the same task in the vast Roman Empire, where they had to bring daily news reports to the Roman Emperor about the political and economical life in the Roman provinces.
  • the pigeon was used as a financial assistant for the Sidonians, to make sure that their distant affiliates in Tyrus, Sidon and Aleppo were immediately informed if and when a trade ship had arrived in Alexandria. According to historians, nobody had a clue of how they managed to correspond supply and demand in the distant inland affiliates with the conditions in Alexandria.
  • pigeons were used as sports journalists for the Hellenes. They spread detailed news reports about the Olympic Games to all parts of Greece, so that the Greeks could follow the games on a daily basis.
  • the pigeon has earned statues and earned military decorations as military operators and as war correspondents.​

Laying wreaths at the War Memorial of the Pigeon Soldier in Brussels. From left to right:
Jules Lenoir from Lessines of the KBDB and the Entente Belge, Felix Ons, chairman of the KBDB,
Georges Goosens from Evere, Piet de Weerd from Breda, Leon Petit from Gouy-lez-Pieton
(former Belgian champion long & grand distance), Maarten de Roode from Vlaardingen (responsible for the rings at the NPO),
Raoul Danhaive from Basecles and Mr Wilfried Staes from Izegem, chairman of the KBDB and the FCI.

Remembering Armistice Day 2011; with Van Bael and Van Bockstaele

  • pigeons are still very useful for Japanese newspapers these days. Most newspapers are still using about a hundred pigeons to send messages and copies in case of a traffic jam in the city. When telephones were still rare in the provinces of the Japanese Empire, pigeons provided news coverage as well, especially for the regional editions of the newspapers.
  • pigeons provided a regular connection between the front and the hinterland in the French-German war of 1870. The French pigeons were brought to the frontline by hot air balloon, from where they had to carry messages back to the troops at home.
  • allied soldiers, who were surrounded by enemy forces in the autumn of 1916, were rescued by a pigeon. They were able to send a pigeon to the French headquarters, where it arrived exhausted and wounded. The French army received the message and they were able to rescue the soldiers. The pigeon that carried the message became the symbol of the French army, it was awarded a Croix de Guerre and it was buried near Verdun with military honours.
  • the English pigeon 615 was able to save the lives of the surrounded troops of the first American battalion, which was under heavy fire. The battalion commander released his seven last remaining pigeons. Six of them were killed by the enemy but pigeon number 615 called Chère Amie managed to reach the headquarters. It was heavily wounded: she had a smashed breastbone and she had lost one of its legs. After the war the pigeon made a trip through the United States and was cheered on by millions of Americans. After her death she was added to the National Museum of Boston.
  • 20,000 pigeons of the Allied forces died in the First World War. A statue was erected in honour of the unknown pigeon in Rijsel in 1936. The Germans built a statue as well, to honour the 120,000 pigeons that helped them during the war.

A military pigeon loft

Transporting the pigeons to dangerous areas

A small tube that carried a message was attached to the back of the pigeon