Help for heroes
ARACING pigeon arrived on our doorstep and proceeded to stay for the next couple of days. Wondering what to do, I consulted the Royal Pigeon Racing Association website and, after I put out some crushed cornflakes (never bread) and a bowl of water, the bird stayed for another day and then disappeared, hopefully to its home loft.
I also learned that racing pigeons are descended from rock doves and that their first recorded reference to messenger pigeons comes from the reign of Ramses III (about 1200BC), when they were used to convey news of the state of the Nile flood. The Romans used them to relay sporting results for betting purposes and, by 1870, there was a postal service between London and Paris.
During the Second World War about 250,000 birds were used by the RAF and Army. Once, after the British had taken a town in Italy, but with radio contact broken, one pigeon, GI Joe, saved thousand of British lives by flying back home at a mile a minute, just in time to call off a bombing raid on our troops by the Air Force of the USA.
I’m glad my cornflakes did a little good for a species that has served us so well. MH