The concept of pigeon racing is used to refer to the activity that consists of raising and preparing racing pigeons. The notion refers to the knowledge and techniques that make it possible to turn these birds into animals capable of carrying messages and then return to their place of origin.
In addition to its meaning, it is important to know the etymological origin of this word. Thus, we can say that it is the result of the sum of two parts:
-From the Latin word “colombus”, which can be translated as “dove”.
-From the Greek term “philia”, which is synonymous with “love”.
Homing pigeons are trained to return to their loft after having traveled a long distance. On these trips, these birds carry messages in a tube that is placed on one of their legs.
In ancient times, pigeon racing was very important. Homing pigeons allowed information to travel hundreds of kilometers quickly, at a time when there were no technological means to facilitate the transmission of data. Starting in the 19th century, the advancement of technology caused pigeon racing to lose popularity, although it remained a sport and tradition.
Pigeon racing was key in World War I and World War II, complementing the use of the telegraph and the postal service. The pigeons often managed to cross enemy lines and communicate to the troops, although they were also attacked to prevent them from fulfilling their mission. One of the most famous homing pigeons in history was Cher Ami, who despite losing an eye and a leg managed to carry a message that helped save members of an American battalion.
Since the Second World War, pigeon racing has practically disappeared as a way of sending messages from one place to another. However, it continues to play a leading role through contests that are organized in different corners of the world. China is, without a doubt, the state with the most competitions in this regard, although they can also be found in Germany, the United Kingdom or Belgium, for example.
In Spain it is necessary to underline the existence of the Royal Spanish Pigeon Federation, which was founded in the 19th century, specifically in 1894. That comes to bet on the sport of pigeon racing.
In general, pigeon racing uses crosses of different subspecies of pigeons that are characterized by their speed when flying, their resistance to fatigue and their sense of orientation.
Other information of interest about pigeon racing are the following:
-About 5,000 years ago, the pharaohs of Egypt were the pioneers in making use of pigeons to send and receive messages.
-In the 19th and 20th centuries, until World War II, this “technique” was used with great force. However, we cannot forget that, in 1979, the Soviets used pigeon racing to proceed to order what was the invasion of Afghanistan.
-In addition to sending messages, pigeons were also used to capture photographs, by means of tiny cameras, of enemy positions during war conflicts.