Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird
, 2006 - Nature
- 239 pages
Pigeons are athletes of the highest caliber. While racehorses receive all the glory with their 35 mph sprints around a one-mile racetrack, homing pigeons--a mere pound of flesh and feathers--routinely fly more than five hundred miles in a single day at speeds exceeding 60 mph, finding their way home from a place they've never been before, without stopping. Pigeon racing is an internationally popular sport that can count the Queen of England among its enthusiasts. Winning birds can bring home millions of dollars in prize money and fetch tens of thousands of dollars at auction. Although we all share a universal bond with this ubiquitous bird, there are some of us whose lives revolve around the bird in more profound--and often humorous--ways. I met trainers who ran around their backyards with whistles in tow, barking orders at their racing pigeons as if conditioning a team of professional soccer players; militant members of a New York City pigeon-underground, who prowl city streets in search of pigeon poachers; and backyard geneticists who toyed with the cellular composition of pigeons in their quest to create a bird more akin to a Dresden figurine than a child of nature.