Homing pigeons are an amazing variety of domestic pigeon. They have been bred to find their way home from very long distances travelling at speeds from 50 to 90 miles per hour. They are sometimes referred to as carrier or messenger pigeons and have been used to send important information, even in war time communications.
Researchers say the ability of homing pigeons to find their home is from a strong, natural instinct related to their use of smell, sight, an orientation with the earth’s magnetic fields and the ability to calculate the angle of the sun.
Pure white pigeons are often used in “release dove” ceremonies, which is what we did in honor of my late Father. It was an amazing experience to hold these beautiful, athletic birds and release them into the sky.
We released around 12 together and the first thing they did was congregate into a flock which circled us about 3 times. From there we thought they had disappeared but the handler told us to start clapping. Within a few minutes they were flying back over our release site giving us a final wave goodbye before heading for home.
Home was about 1 hour away by highway travel, and the handler said they would be waiting for her at the homestead when she drove in. Amazing stuff!
If you ever have the opportunity to be involved in a release by all means do it. The birds are truly beautiful and as soft as velvet in your hands. They are gentle as well as extremely strong. It’s also no wonder they are associated with love and romance, as pigeons are monogamous and mate for life.