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Penny for your thoughts...

Pigeons at War

Like many, I never really knew anything about pigeons.​

Despite there being 18 million in the UK, outnumbering dogs and cats, I never really paid any attention to them. But did you know that pigeons gave the biggest contribution to Britain’s plight during WW2? Winning more medals than any other serving animal.

And it doesn't stop there.  

They have been a vital part of human society for thousands of years, and have even been spotted on Mesopotamian tablets, with some research putting their domestication to 10,000 years ago! Originally farmed as a food source in the Middle East and Europe, it was their incredible ability to find their way home that really changed the game.


Carrier pigeons were the cutting-edge of communication technology, and 3,000 years ago, people were sending messages via pigeon-mail. From announcing the winners of the Olympics in ancient Rome, to the results of chariot race bets.  

And during WW2, the United Kingdom used 250,000 homing pigeons to carry messages behind enemy lines and through battle zones. And they were only discontinued in 1948.

Pigeons were also bred for their beauty- that’s right, people found them beautiful, and they were also bred for sport due to their speed, agility, acrobatics, and their ability to perform impressive rolls, twists, and dives (for some breeds).  


Girl and Dove, stock image

Pigeons were once our companions, a useful member of society, and we admired them. Humans loved that pigeons were monogamous, that they mated for life, that both parents care for their off-spring, that they are intelligent, loyal, and affectionate, and they were also symbolic in many religions. But when we didn’t need them anymore, we cast them aside.


The sad truth, is that pigeons wouldn’t have even been in this country if humans hadn’t bought them here in the first place. And because they were so skilled at living alongside us, they made their own way, they formed flocks, laid eggs, fed themselves, and became a feral bird. Feral. Not wild. And now, they’re ‘vermin’, ‘sky rats’, and ‘pests’.  

But why?


“Kindness and compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilized society.”

Cesar Chavez

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