History of Racing Pigeons
Today's generation is fortunate enough to experience the wonders of modern communications. Letters are electronically sent in a matter of seconds via the Internet, and real time conversation with colleagues from far away is now possible through Instant Messaging.
Ah, thanks to technology. Did you ever wonder what was it like a thousand years ago, when ancient man was still one with nature and empires were just about to be built? Tribes communicated with each other through pigeons, and the racing pigeons were animals that were revered by many because of their speed and agility.
The great civilizations from East to West made full use of the racing pigeons as messengers that deliver important messages coming from the emperors out to the most remote areas of their lands. As empires expand, more and more racing pigeons were sent out to the sky.
Because of their intelligence and swiftness, racing pigeons were regarded as prized possessions during the ancient times. Just imagine empires having only horses and caravans as their message-carrying tools. It would take weeks before messages can be exchanged from one area to another. Animals that travel by land are also more prone to danger, especially during warfare.
One famous incident in history where racing pigeons proved their worth was when Napoleon was defeated in Waterloo. No other person knew about this event right away, except for Count Rothschild, who got this first-hand information through a racing pigeon. This knowledge enabled Rothschild to make decisions way before other persons had a chance to meddle. He was able to collect a large amount of money to start up a banking dynasty.
Racing pigeons were not only used as an important military weapon. During the Industrial Revolution when people started to revolutionize their way of thinking, racing pigeons were used as news-carriers not to aid a war, but to keep people informed about the society. Julius Reuter, the founder of the world-renowned Reuter News Service, was actually established as a line of pigeon posts. Up to this day, the symbol for many European postal systems is a racing pigeon.
As years go by, a lot more people have taken to raising pigeons. Gone are the days when only the nobles can have them. Most of the time, these birds are seen with racing enthusiasts, with the birds as the main attraction.
The most successful modern racing pigeons were developed in Belgium. They were a result of a cross between the Cumulet and the Smerle. The Cumulet is often described as a pigeon that has the ability to fly high and can be gone out of sight from the sky. The Smerle, on the other hand, doesn't fly as high as the Cumulet, but is much faster and hastier.
It's no surprise that the Belgians were the ones who first enjoyed the hobby of pigeon racing. The first long distance pigeon race was in Belgium in 1818. After 1875, the hobby of pigeon racing gained popularity in England. In the 19th century, the popularity of the hobby reached the United States.
Today, the world continues to be enthralled with the speed, endurance and the intelligence of racing pigeons. Amidst the technology that we have today, these pigeons still surely know how to get our fancy.