First a little about their anatomy. Unlike other waterfowl like ducks, Cormorant’s feathers contain no preening oil making them less buoyant. This allows them to dive rapidly which is handy if you chase fish for a living. Now here’s where it gets interesting in a weird sort of way.
The fishermen ties a line around the birds throat so it can’t swallow the fish it captures.
Once the fish is captured the bird is pulled back to the boat with a tether (we are currently out of Cormorant tethers :-). The fisherman pulls the fish from the bird and returns the bird back to the water. Mind you Cormorant fishermen do this with several birds and how they keeps the lines from getting tangled is beyond me.
Cormorants are also known to be able to count. During the course of a night’s work they are rewarded with a fish or two – the tether is loosened to allow them to swallow at this point.
Because of their counting abilities, they have literally been known to strike until they get their fair share of “fish pay” for a days work
Video – Cormerant – Fishing with birds! – Wild China – BBC
No discussion about working birds is complete without talking about pigeons. Homing pigeons are renowned for their ability to return to their home as quick as possible even a thousand miles away!
In World War II a pigeon named G.I. Joe was the only bird or animal in the United States to be awarded the Dicken Medal for bravery for saving more than 100 British soldiers.
Today racing pigeons are a worldwide hobby. Pigeon racing is accomplished by taking a flock of pigeons to a point that has been precisely measured from their home.
Distances can be from 100 to 1000 miles. Traditionally, the birds wear rubber rings with unique serial numbers on their legs which are installed prior to a race.
When the pigeon arrives home the trainer removes the ring and places it in a slot in a special pigeon racing clock. Today pigeon’s speeds are clocked electronically with no need to install or remove any apparatus.
Although their speeds are tracked in yards per minute it’s remarkable to note that they can average speeds upwards of 100 mph. And if they don’t get attacked by a bird of prey they had a great day racing.
Years ago I had a friend that raced pigeons. It was an incredible site, his backyard in Gurnee, Illinois had a coop with about 100 pigeons.
On that balmy summer day the pigeons were let loose and spent the day just circling his backyard.
By the way what do you call a four-door pigeon coop (answer below)?
In case you were wondering, racing pigeons can cost from less than $30 to more than $400,000.
Adorn White Dove Release – training release on 10-08-2014, 3.75 miles.
So how you turn an ability to find your way home at 100 miles an hour flying through the clouds into a paying gig?