did birds actually deliver messages

The idea of pigeons carrying messages from one place to another started about 5000 years ago. While initially delivering letters was done through human messengers and horses, they had quite a few drawbacks. For starters, there was trust required in handing your message to someone for delivering. On top of that, there’s always a chance of interferences in the…

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Canada edit

Pigeons transported mail from Avalon across the Santa Barbara Channel to Los Angeles between 1894 and 1898. Two pigeon fanciers, brothers Otto J. and O. F. Zahn and Western Union came to an agreement whereby the latter would not construct a telegraph line to the remote island provided that pigeons did not pose a threat to it on the mainland. Because of the threat posed by hunters and predators, fifty birds were trained to carry three copies of each message. They traveled the 48 miles in about an hour, bringing letters, Los Angeles Times news clippings, and doctor emergency summonses. Only two letters failed to arrive in three seasons of operation, but at $ 50 to $1. Because the service was unprofitable at $00 per message, the Zahn brothers discontinued it in 1898. [8][9].

Paris edit Siege of Paris 1870–1871, pigeon post

Probably the most well-known was the pigeon post that was in use during the siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871. On September 2, 1870, at Sedan, barely six weeks after hostilities began, Emperor Napoleon III and the French Army of Châlons submitted. The fall of the Second Empire and the rapid Prussian advance on Paris were the two immediate effects. The regular routes of communication into and out of Paris were disrupted for the four and a half months of the siege, as was predicted. In fact, the Prussians did not relinquish control over the postal and telegraph services until the middle of February 1871. Following the city’s encirclement on September 18, the final overhead telegraph wires were severed early on September 19, and on September 27 the covert telegraph cable beneath the Seine was found and severed. Even though some postmen were able to breach the Prussian lines in the early stages of the siege, others were apprehended and executed, and there is no evidence that any mail—aside from personal messages transported by unauthorized persons—arrived in Paris from the outside after October. The only reliable way to communicate into Paris was by the time-tested carrier pigeon, which allowed thousands of messages—both official and private—to be delivered to the besieged city.

Pigeons were regularly transported out of Paris by balloon during the siege. At first, a pigeon carried by a balloon was released as soon as it touched down, allowing Paris to be informed that it had safely crossed the Prussian lines. Before long, a regular service was running out of Tours and then Poitiers. After arriving from Paris, the pigeons were brought to their base where they were fed, watered, and rested before being prepared for the return flight. About 200 km (100 miles) separate Tours from Paris, and about 300 km (200 miles) separate Poitiers. In order to shorten the flight distance, the pigeons were transported by train as close to Paris as possible without risk of Prussian intervention. Before release, they were loaded with their despatches. The first shipment was dated September 27 and arrived in Paris on October 1. However, a comprehensive record was not kept until October 16, when an official control was instituted.

Two types of dispatch were carried by the pigeons: official and private, which are both explained in more detail later. Early in November, the service—which was set up to transfer information from the Delegation to Paris—opened to the general public. Private dispatches were only sent in conjunction with official dispatches, as the latter would always take precedence. But because the Dagron microfilms had such low volumetric requirements, any issues with transportation claims were resolved with their introduction. As an illustration, a tube sent in January contained 21 microfilms, of which 6 were official and 15 were private dispatches; a subsequent tube contained 16 private and 2 official dispatches. The same despatch was sent by multiple pigeons in order to increase the likelihood that it would reach Paris; an official despatch was repeated 35 times, and subsequent private despatches were repeated an average of 22 times. According to the records, 61 tubes were sent out between January 7 and the end, with 246 official and 671 private dispatches inside. It was customary to send out despatches using pigeons for both the same release and subsequent releases until Paris announced the arrival of those despatches. A bell in the loft’s trap signaled the pigeon’s arrival when it arrived at its designated loft in Paris. A watchman removed its tube right away, and it was brought to the Central Telegraph Office, where the contents were carefully unpacked and sandwiched between two thin glass sheets. It is claimed that the images were displayed on a screen using a magic lantern so that a group of clerks could easily read and record the enlargement. This is undoubtedly the case for the microfilms, but microscopes were used to read the earlier despatches on photographic paper. The messages that were transcribed were written down and delivered using telegraph forms meant for private communications, either with or without the unique annotation “pigeon.” The time it took to register a private message, pass it to the printers where it was assembled with its 3000 companions into a single page, and then assemble the pages into nines, twelves, or sixteens was one of the many factors that determined how long it took the addressee to receive a private message after it was sent. This method was used to deliver 150,000 official and 1 million private communications into Paris over the four months of the siege. [2].

The service was formally terminated on 1 February 1871. The last pigeons were actually released on February 1st and 3rd. The remaining pigeons were sold at the Depot du Mobilier de lEtat and became official property. The average price of just 1 franc 50 centimes indicated their value as racing pigeons, but an enthusiast paid 26 francs for two pigeons that were rumored to have traveled three times.

The military forces of the European powers took note of the pigeon post’s effectiveness for both official and private messages, and in the years that followed the Franco-Prussian War, pigeon sections were established in their armies. Although pigeons were the only means of communication in some specific applications, the introduction of wireless communication resulted in an increase in pigeon unemployment. However, pigeons were never again asked to carry out such a magnificent public service as they had done throughout the siege of Paris and Italy.

Early history edit

It is probably as old as the ancient Persians, who are thought to have originated the practice of teaching birds to communicate. More than 2000 years ago, the Romans employed pigeon messengers to support their military. [citation needed] Frontinus claimed that during his conquest of Gaul, Julius Caesar employed pigeons as messengers. [2] The Greeks used this method to deliver the names of the Olympic Games winners to their different cities. [3].

Naval chaplain Henry Teonge (c. 1620–1690) writes in his journal about merchants in the Levant using pigeons to mail goods between İskenderun and Aleppo on a regular basis. [4] The Mughals also used messenger pigeons.

Stockbrokers and financiers used this form of communication extensively prior to the invention of the telegraph. Early in the 19th century, the Dutch government established a military and civil system in Java and Sumatra, using birds that they had taken from Baghdad. Paul Julius Reuter, a German-born businessman, established an office in the City of London in 1851 and used the newly constructed Calais to Dover cable to send stock market quotes between London and Paris. Prior to the closure of a telegraph link gap, Reuter had employed pigeons to fly stock prices between Aachen and Brussels for a year. [5].

Information about the use of pigeons during the 1870–1871 siege of Paris sparked a resurgence of pigeon training for military use. All of the major European countries had numerous societies set up for the keeping of pigeons of this class; over time, pigeon post systems of communication were established by different governments for military purposes. Following extensive testing, the use of pigeon posts between military fortresses to communicate with nearby ships for naval purposes was considered. News organizations and private users also occasionally used it. Governments in several countries established lofts of their own. Laws were passed designating the killing of these pigeons as a serious crime; private societies were offered premiums to incentivize efficiency, and the killing of prey birds was rewarded. Newspapers used pigeons to cover yacht races prior to the invention of radio, and some boats even had lofts installed.

All birds were required to be registered when official pigeon post services were established. Simultaneously, obstacles were erected to prevent foreign nations’ birds from being imported for training, and in certain instances, falcons were specially trained to disrupt military operations during times of conflict. The Germans, for example, set the precedent by using hawks to hunt Paris pigeons in 1870–1871. Despite the fact that the Chinese used to frighten off predatory birds with their pigeons’ bells and whistles, no effective means of safeguarding the weaker birds appears to have been discovered.

By the 1910s, the use of pigeons for pigeon fortress warfare had been reduced as radio telegraphy and telephony advanced[clarification needed]. The British Admiralty ended its pigeon service in the early 20th century, despite having reached an extremely high level of efficiency. On the other hand, when the First World War started, Russia, Germany, and France continued to keep enormous numbers of birds.

Pigeons are still used today by rafting photographers as a sneakernet to transfer digital images stored on flash media from the camera to the tour guide. [6].


Did people really send messages through birds?

Pigeons are effective as messengers due to their natural homing abilities. The pigeons are transported to a destination in cages, where they are attached with messages, then the pigeon naturally flies back to its home where the recipient could read the message. They have been used in many places around the world.

Did Messenger birds actually work?

They were used to transmit messages during wars, as they could pass through enemy lines much faster than a person riding on horseback. This is why they were referred to as “war pigeons,” and they continued to be used in some form until World War II. Throughout history, birds have been recognized as reliable messengers.

Did they really use Ravens to send messages?

Ravens have never been used for delivering messages in the real world. Pigeons are used for delivering messages, not ravens. To make a pigeon deliver a message, you raise it at the location where you want the message to go to. It gets to know that location as home.

Were delivery birds real?

Until the introduction of telephones, homing pigeons were used commercially to deliver communication. Messenger pigeons are often incorrectly categorized as English Carrier pigeons, an ancient breed of fancy pigeons. They were used historically to send messages but lost the homing instinct long ago.