More interesting stuff about pigeons and people

After my post on dovecotes ran a few days ago, my friend, colleague, and fellow blogger Sally Cissna published a really fascinating blog post about the relationship between humans and pigeons a century ago. Her post contains several old newspaper articles about how to raise pigeons for food and as a commercial “product,” how pigeons were used by fishermen in New England, how pigeons were used by the military, especially in late-1800s Germany, and how they were used almost as a form of texting back in the day. Read on for some really intriguing insights, especially if you’re a history buff.

via Pigeons and People 1880-1910

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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7 Responses to More interesting stuff about pigeons and people

  1. Keith F says:

    I’ve enjoyed this article very much .

    I grew up in a Welsh coal mining village in the 1960’s and have fond memories of my neighbour’s pigeon kit (shed /aviary) in his garden where he raised racing birds – a lot of men had them. The birds would be driven out in a large lorry about once a fortnight, quite a distance , 30 miles or more, with a compartment for each bird. A spring handle released all the birds at the same time, then they would be timed against the owner’s regulation clock ( not sure how it worked ) on return to the kit. It was quite a big event; leagues; regions cups; for the winners etc. Quite often the birds would land on a nearby chimney and would loose quite a bit of time as the owner teased the birds down by rattling a cup of seed and shouting come on Bluey . To me, as a young child, it seemed all pigeons were called Bluey. It was largely a working class hobby and something else that has almost disappeared. Later on, as a young photographer, I covered their presentation nights.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Keith F says:

    Sadly I don’t – at the time I would have seen it as just one more job ! I worked for a press agency in Chester for ten years early on in my career (Mel Grundy which is gone now) covering for local papers on a daily basis, lots of jobs per day and later all the usual stuff that made up British National papers of the time – court cases, stake outs, glamour, naughty vicars. I left 32 years ago so we’re talking 40 years plus . I’m still in contact with one of the racers I photographed ( he’s much younger than me ) not sure if he still keeps birds as i haven’t seen him in a long time but I’ll check if he has kept any photos . I know the village pub where the presentation nights were held has long gone like so many ( 11 down to 2). On a brighter note I did some research and found out racing does still seem to be popular and has moved with the times . Here’s a digital racing clock guide. I remember the walls of the pub being covered in strange, almost nautical brass and mahogany racing clocks.
    All the members ( most seemed old to me ) wore flat caps and drank dark ale and the whole room was full of cigarette smoke thankfully illegal now!

    Here’s a few links that might be of interest

    Click to access ETS-clocksetters-guide.pdf Racing Pigeons Released from Lorry ( hope this works in the US )


    • Wow, thank you! This is wonderful! The Royal Pigeon Racing Association site has so much a variety of information, and the YouTube video works just fine here in America. That deluge of birds shooting out of the truck is amazing. Once in the air, the flock looks to me remarkably like the starling flocks we sometimes see in Milwaukee. Thank you for sharing such detailed information. Your descriptions from memory along with the web links really make this subject come alive!


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