Here’s a weird bit of animal news for you: around 5000 of 9000 carrier pigeons engaged in pigeon racing disappeared. The pigeons were part of an obscure sport that races homing pigeons, and it’s unclear why over half of the birds never returned home.
Carrier and homing pigeons aren’t as necessary today as they were even one hundred years ago, what with improvements in communication technology. When everyone is carrying around a Star Trek communicator with more computing power than the Apollo spacecrafts, the need to maintain a rookery of sky-rats is quite diminished.
That said, the birds are quite remarkable. Carrier pigeons have saved thousands of lives in various conflicts around the world. The piece in The Western Journal about the missing pigeons discusses the heroics of Cher Ami, a pigeon that saved the 77th Infantry Division’s “lost battalion” in the First World War “by delivering 12 messages and returning to his roost despite being shot in the leg” The brave bird died from his injuries in 1919, but “was awarded the Croix de Guerre by France.”
Survivalists and homesteaders might take a particular interest in homing pigeons: while they’re not particularly useful now, they could be quite useful in the event of a major failure of the power grid, or should the Internet and various cellular services go down.
But what of the missing birds?