Our Tribute To Birds In The Military

WWII open cockpit pilot dropping carrier pigeon
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It wasn’t until 1942 the Army finally authorized an organic veterinary detachment for all the pigeon units deployed overseas.


Each unit of a veterinary Corps had an officer who was either first Lieut. or Capt. and then one enlisted technician.

A company unit was divided into three combat platoons each with 1500 pigeons.

By organizing the birds in this way the Army was able to determine the necessary medicines and medical instruments to maintain every unit.

Although radios were brought into service at this time pigeons were still used when radio silence was necessary.
Even after the war ended pigeons were used to cross the English Channel between England and France.
The counter moves by both countries created falconry programs.
The problem was the Falcons could never differentiate the nationality of the carrier pigeons.

As a caveat to this article you’ll find it amazing how far pigeons have come into the mainstream as illustrated by the purchase of a racing pigeon named Bolt that sold for $400,000. 
We have added additional content about pigeons on 05/22/18
We hope you find it as much fun and interesting as we did.


BF Skinner was engaged by the U.S. Army to build a “guided by pigeon” bomb system.

Pigeons were placed into the nose cone of a bomb having three windows for anywhere from 1 to 3 pigeons to look through

A metal tab was attached to the pigeons beak that tapped a metal plate.Where the pigeon tapped was the the missile control system causing a change in course.

The pigeons were trained to peck at a target. They were conditioned to keep the target centered in front of the missile

The National Defense Research Committee kicked in $25,000 for research but alas nobody in the Army took BF seriously.



Despite the pigeons having a very high accuracy rate given the fact that they can process visual information three times faster than you and I, the project was canceled in October, 1944.

In 1948 the Navy deployed project Orcon (Organc control) but after five years once again project pigeon was canceled

Skinner held on to all the pigeons just to find out how long they would remember how to guide missiles.

Turns out after six years they didn’t miss a step

Why do people keep pigeons on their backyard in a shed? Why do they even like pigeons?

The bigger question is why don’t the pigeons fly away?

Most likely its because they are homing pigeons.

If the pigeons have various colors they are probably racing pigeons which means they can be taken great distances

They have special bands on their legs.

When they arrive back to their home coop they cross over an electronic sensor which tells a special remote time keeping system, arrival time which then determines how long it took the bird to fly home.



Thus they only fly back they never fly forth

Also published on Medium.

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He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.