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Do homing pigeons find their way home more quickly at different times of the day?Featured science projectScience project video

Abstract

This experiment was conducted to examine if the time of the day will affect the speed at which a homing pigeon will find its way back home Testing was done by measuring and comparing the flight time of a homing pigeon in the morning and afternoon.

Hypothesis

The flight time of the homing pigeon is not affected by the time of the day.

Scientific Terms

Selective breeding, Columba livia domestica

Background

Homing pigeons

Homing pigeons are a type of domesticated pigeons that are selectively bred from Rock pigeons. These pigeons have an innate ability to find their way home to their nest over long distances. They have been recorded to travel as far as 1800km in pigeon racing competitions. The pigeons are also able to fly at speeds between 48km/hour and 95km/hour.

The ability of homing pigeons to always find their way home makes homing pigeons good message carriers; this is why homing pigeons are also known as carrier pigeons. 3000 years ago, Persians and Egyptians used carrier pigeons to send messages. The first pigeon postal service took off in 1896, with pigeons journeying from New Zealand to the Great Barrier Island.

It is important to train homing pigeons when they are young in order for them be comfortable around humans. Homing pigeons are usually housed in pigeon holes or lofts. A pigeon trainer would normally take them on short trips when they are about 6 months old. Then, the trainer would release them; to allow them to find their way back home. On average, a pigeon remain in service for between 2 to 3 years.
 

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Complexity level:
7
Project cost ($):
30
Time required:
It will take an hour to prepare for this science project, and 2 days for observation.
Material availability:
Contact a pigeon breeder. You will need one who can supply the pigeons for the experiment.
Safety concerns:

Keep your hands clean before and after handling the pigeons. Pigeon waste is highly toxic.