Why are pigeons in every city that I have ever been to? Did they develop with modernity and the process of urbanization? Or are they, as an old friend of mine once believed, just well disguised robotic spying mechanisms?
Well, after a bit of research, I discovered a couple interesting insights into the rise of this truly urban dweller. Pigeons, also known as rock doves, were domesticated and then returned to the wild. The natural rock dove was native to Europe, North Africa, and Southern Asia, residing along natural cliffs by the coast.
Originally, rock doves were domesticated to provide a source of food, entertainment, and relay messages. Mentioned in Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets and Egyptian hieroglyphics, Rock doves were the “fastest way to send a message” back in the day.
Introduced to America in the early 1600s, pigeons have come to define the urban experience. It has been estimated that there are 400 million pigeons around the world, and as cities increasingly become larger and more populated, the pigeon population will follow suit.
Some interesting fun facts:
- Pigeons were used to transport messages during WWII by the RAF.
- Charles Darwin extensively studied the domestic rock pigeon, to demonstrate his theory of ‘artificial selection’, critical in developing his theory of evolution.
- Pigeons are smarter than your average bird, they have a ‘homing instinct‘, that helps them find their way home from hundreds of miles away.