Monday, 2 September 2013

Nelson the Pigeon

My students don't know this but every Monday morning from 8:30 - 9:30 am, while they are at computer class, Nelson the pigeon wanders into our upstairs classroom while I work quietly at my desk and wanders around for an hour, pecking crumbs off the floor. Just before the children return I shew him out. It's our regular little Monday date. :o)
Did you know?
  • Pigeons are incredibly complex and intelligent animals. They are one of only a small number of species to pass the ‘mirror test’ – a test of self recognition. They can also recognise each letter of the human alphabet, differentiate between photographs, and even distinguish different humans within a photograph. 
  • Pigeons are renowned for their outstanding navigational abilities. They use a range of skills, such as using the sun as a guide and an internal ‘magnetic compass’. A study at Oxford University found that they will also use landmarks as signposts and will travel along man-made roads and motorways, even changing direction at junctions.
  • Pigeons are highly sociable animals. They will often be seen in flocks of 20-30 birds. 
  • Pigeons mate for life, and tend to raise two chicks at the same time.
  • Both female and male pigeons share responsibility of caring for and raising young. Both sexes take turn incubating the eggs and both feed the chicks ‘pigeon milk’ – a special secretion from the lining of the crop which both sexes produce.
  • Pigeons have excellent hearing abilities. They can detect sounds at far lower frequencies than humans are able to, and can thus hear distant storms and volcanoes. 
  • Despite the social perception as dirty and disease-ridden, pigeons are actually very clean animals and there is very little evidence to suggest that they are significant transmitters of disease.
  • Pigeons and humans have lived in close proximity for thousands of years. The first recordings of this date back to Mesopotamis, modern Iraq, in 3000BCE.
  • Although pigeon droppings are seen by some as a problem in modern society, a few centuries ago pigeon guano was seen as extremely valuable. It was viewed as the best available fertiliser and armed guards would even stand by dovecotes (pigeon houses) to stop others taking the droppings.
  • Pigeons can fly at altitudes up to and beyond 6000 feet, and at an average speed of 77.6 mph. The fastest recorded speed is 92.5 mph.

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