Stop Coloring, Pigeons!

Messenger/Homing Pigeons: 

The homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon with an ability to find its way home over extremely long distances.Because of this skill, homing pigeons were used to carry messages as messenger pigeons. They are usually referred to as “pigeon post” or “war pigeon”. Pigeons would be taken to different places and they would fly back home with the messages tied to their legs.

  • Pigeon as War Hero:
    • In both the First and Second World Wars the pigeons saved human lives by carrying messages across enemy lines.
    • Pigeons were carried on ships in convoys and in the event of a U-boat attack a messenger pigeon was released with details of the location of the sinking ship. In many cases this led to survivors being rescued and lives saved.
    • One homing pigeon, Cher Ami, was awarded the French Croix de guerre for her heroic service in delivering 12 important messages, despite having been very badly injured.
  • Pigeon as Messenger:
    • The earliest large-scale communication network using pigeons as messengers was established in Syria and Persia around the 5th century BC. 
    • In Roman times the pigeon was used to carry results of sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, and this is why white doves are released at the start of the Olympic Games even today.
    • One of the world’s most famous news agencies, Reuters, started its European business by using trained homing pigeons. 

Respect and salute to these homing pigeons for doing an excellent job for so many years.  

In this blog, I have used pigeons merely as a symbolic representation. Representation of …………………………..

Read on to find out ! 🙂


Pigeons used to be trustworthy loyal messengers carrying important messages from one place to another. The messages they carried, helped :

Kings to protect their kingdom.
Common man by carrying warning messages about danger.
Travelers in communicating with their fellow men.
People in distress by informing others about their whereabouts.
People in love by keeping them connected through messages.

These pigeons were carried to different places and they flew back home using their inbuilt compass mechanism. They were duly rewarded with food when they accomplished their task. It was a wonderful network and everyone benefited from it.

An accident that happened to one of the pigeons during a regular flight from a “romeo” in one kingdom to a “juliet” in another faraway kingdom changed history and the future!

“Romeo” did not tie the message tight enough and during the flight it fell into a large pot of scented oil. The pigeon managed to pick the message before it drowned in that pot. The strong smell of the oil left the pigeon a little lost. But since it was near home, he managed to deliver the message to “juliet”. “Juliet” was very impressed by “romeo” for sending the scented message. She thought that gesture proclaimed his love loud and clear. The messenger pigeon got an extra share of feed that evening. “Juliet” reciprocated by sending an approval for an immediate wedding ceremony. And the pigeon got a special reward during the wedding ceremony. 

Henceforth, the pigeon would dip the message in the oil whenever it flew that way. He enjoyed the extra love and attention he got in return.

The word soon spread and pigeons across the country started tactically sending aromatic messages across. It did lead to some pigeons getting lost whenever the scent was too strong. Those messages never got delivered. But whoever managed to deliver got good rewards. There were instances when wars between states were called off, thanks to the scented messages.

When the pigeons met, they congratulated each other. The pigeon which stopped the war was rewarded. Since pigeons can also differentiate between colors they decided to add a little color to the messages that they carried. Different dyeing units were identified by the pigeons along their line of operation for this purpose. They had to be careful about not getting into the ultraviolet spectrum.(pigeons can see the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum)

From that day, the simple messages that were sent by kings, travelers, doctors, romeos etc started getting delivered with a little extra scent and color. The irony being that the sender had no control on the color or scent because the pigeon would decide the stop points on-the-go, depending on the water and food available near the dipping units.

The odored, colored messages would sometimes even be flavored.

There were instances when instead of dipping the message in red dye, pigeons by mistake would dip it in chili sauce. This lead to wars and heartbreaks.

Some pigeons realized their mistake and got back to delivering plain messages. But people had got used to getting colorful scented flavored messages. They slowly stopped using those pigeons which delivered plain messages.

This further encouraged the other pigeons to add multiple colors to the messages. Some artistic ones would have rainbow designs on the messages. Some started sticking leaves and twigs.

Some stuck small conches to the message so that people could hear the waves over which the pigeon had to fly, to carry the message.

Some pigeons stuck to colors they liked the most( Red, Blue, Green ,Yellow and Orange being the most sort after colors). Pigeons who liked similar colors formed their own hubs and shared special friendship. 

Some even tried to change the texture of the paper that carried the messages. Softer and thinner papers were appreciated by the receivers. People started framing some of the messages in their houses. Such pigeons got lot of acclaim and rewards. 

In the process the pigeons themselves started getting colored. The colors that they dipped the message in, splashed on them and became their characteristic color. The very few pigeons who were left uncolored were the odd ones out. They were not regarded of much value during the regular pigeons meets.

In the euphoria created by all this, people did not notice the tweaks that were happening to the original message. Some letters got erased in the process. Some i’s and l’s got interchanged, e became c and m became n. There were no full stops or comas. Sometimes the colors were so bright that messages could not be read. Sometimes people could not even open the message because of the strong unpleasant odor. Sometimes the paper would become so soft that it would tear off. The sanctity of the message was taken over by the added condiments.

People who owned the dyeing units started “feed the pigeon” initiatives so that their colors would get popularized. The pigeons would get lured by the feed and ended up dipping the messages in those colors.

This continued for a very long time. 

There are a lot of people today yearning for plain ,unaltered messages delivered by uncolored ,old style pigeons. Luckily they have not become extinct. They can be saved by a massive ” save the real pigeon” campaign. They have to be fed, appreciated and bred.

Each of us can do our bit by not feeding the colored pigeons. 

I end this blog hoping that we will one day have our skies filled with real pigeons, carrying messages and not colors and scents.

I am hoping that we will have many more true successors of Cher Ami.