How to Train Carrier Pigeons

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The pigeons associated with carrying messages are popularly called "carrier pigeons" but are actually homing pigeons or racing homers. There is a type of exhibition pigeon known as the carrier, but these birds are bred for their unusual confirmation and are bred and trained to show off their physical characteristics.

Things You'll Need

  • Young racing homers that have not been released or flown in races
  • Pigeon loft equipped for racing pigeons
  • carrying cages or boxes
  • Vehicle
  • Pigeon food and water
  • Pen and lightweight paper
  • "Dropper" pigeons

Acquire young racing homer pigeons, or any type of pigeons capable of flying long distances. Flying pigeons include homers, rollers and tumblers. Do not buy pigeons that have been released from and know how to return to another loft. These birds will always attempt to return to their loft of origin and cannot be used for carrying messages back to your loft. Introduce your pigeons to your loft and supply them with food, water and grit.

A pigeon's homing instinct is strengthened by mating and nesting.
A pigeon's homing instinct is strengthened by mating and nesting. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Allow your young pigeons to form pairs and begin nesting. Pigeons mate for life and are strongly motivated to return to their mates. Purchase pigeon message containers from a pigeon supply catalog or website. Select a few pigeons for training before feeding your birds.Split up pairs; if you release both birds of a pair, they have less motivation for returning to your loft. Place the birds in a crate or cage for transporting them and transport the birds a short distance from home. Release the pigeons and return to your home and loft. Encourage your pigeons to enter the loft using food and a tame dropper pigeon that stays close to the loft. Repeat the training process with the remaining birds.

Continue training until your pigeons consistently return to your loft. Select the birds you want to use for carrying messages. Affix an empty message container to each pigeon's leg. Ensure that the message containers are not attached too tightly and do not inhibit the birds' movements. Leave the message containers on the birds until each bird has flown home with a message container. Write short messages, roll them up, and place them into message containers carried by your pigeons. Transport and release the pigeons carrying messages from a distance determined by their homing ability. Verify that each bird returns to your loft with the message intact and remove the message containers.

Exchange birds carrying messages with other pigeon keepers. Release each other's birds with messages. This can provide kids with a novel way to communicate with friends who also keep pigeons.

Although using pigeons for sending messages is impractical in most cases, it adds to the enjoyment of keeping homing pigeons as pets.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't fly pigeons that are incubating eggs or caring for their young.
  • Keep messages short and write them on light-weight paper.
  • Hawks, cats and humans with guns are hazardous to flying pigeons. Expect to lose a few birds.
  • Don't write anything on messages that you don't want strangers to read. Pigeons do stray from home and may be rescued by others.

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