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#294332 - 12/08/19 11:51 PM Homing Pigeons as survival equipment
rafowell Offline

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 230
Loc: Southern California
In WW2, Royal Air Force bombers carried homing pigeons as emergency survival equipment in watertight containers (photo of one in this article)

This article says: "The British Royal Air Force determined that one in every seven of its crewmen who were rescued after being forced down at sea owed his life to a message sent by pigeon."

Here are two articles on the most famous case:

The pigeon that saved a World War II bomber crew

Winkie the RAF Pigeon who Saved the Life of a Bomber Crew

Here's a wartime report citing this and two other cases as "a few examples", from 15 Feb 1944
The use of Pigeons by the RAF

Reading the citations, it seems that 7 of the 32 homing pigeons awarded the Dickin Medal in WW2 were released from crashed RAF aircraft:

Pigeons at War the RAF and the National Pigeon Service

However, these days, personal locator beacons (PLBs) are less bulky and require less feeding than pigeons.

Edited by rafowell (12/09/19 01:00 AM)
Edit Reason: Better target for hyperlink
A signal mirror should backup a radio distress signal, like a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB) (Ocean Signal PLB)

#294333 - 12/09/19 12:13 AM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2761
Loc: Big Sky Country
I was going to go with a pigeon over a PLB til I read the last line! grin
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

#294340 - 12/10/19 02:58 PM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
adam2 Offline

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 450
Loc: Somerset UK
Whilst BAU continues, I have more faith in PLBs, emergency radios, satellite telephones and the like than in homing pigeons.

Pigeons are perhaps worth considering in a post apocalyptic scenario. They are fairly easy to keep and can be bred for best homing instinct. Eat the failures !

O/T trivia, a major London hospital used homing pigeons until recently, to carry blood samples from the ward to a lab in another building.
The distance was modest, but pigeons were quicker and cheaper than a human messenger.

#294345 - 12/11/19 12:10 AM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
DaveL Offline

Registered: 10/03/18
Posts: 60
Loc: Colorado Springs,CO
The carrier pigeons were also used in Vietnam, for solders whom did not exist in countries that did not exist either.
So I have been told

Edited by DaveL (12/11/19 03:37 AM)

#294346 - 12/11/19 01:28 AM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2919
Loc: Alberta, Canada
It's fascinating that such a system could be so successful! The modern brain boggles ... but then it wasn't floating in the icy Channel, hoping beyond hope for rescue.

(BTW, I really think you should have posted this on March 32. It would have messed with us completely. grin )

#294390 - 12/15/19 11:42 PM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
nursemike Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 870
Loc: wellington, fl
My kid had an apartment in Albany, NY, in a 19th century building. It had a dedicated carrier pigeon window with shelving and desk built around it. The local historians reported that the building was home to a local industrialist who communicated from home with staff at his factory across the river in Rensselaer. It must have been a pretty reliable system if it was worthwhile to create architecture to support it.
Dance like you have never been hurt, work like no one is watching,love like you don't need the money.

#294408 - 12/18/19 01:10 AM Re: Homing Pigeons as survival equipment [Re: rafowell]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1163
Loc: Channeled Scablands
Tochuina tetraquetra

Homing Seal Slug


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