Falcons as dipatchers
In view of the large losses
in pigeon sport caused by birds of prey, unconfirmed reports
indicate that the pigeon fanciers fall back on an idea that was
successfully tried out by the Russian officer Smoiloff in 1893. It
was reported about it in the magazines at the time, but so far there
has been no need to implement it.
Fig. 1: Falcons as
dispatchers, source: Information leaflet of the Ornithological
Association in Vienna June 1893, p. 95.
Pigeons as messengers can
already be found on wall paintings in the burial chamber of Ramses
III (1198-1166 BC) and in the Book of Animals by Al Djahiz
(776-868-9), who was born in Iraq.
Fig. 2: Pigeons as
messengers on wall painting in the burial chamber of Rames III and
pigeon flying in the Book of Animals by Al Djahiz. Sources: Sell,
Taubenrassen 2009 and Taubenzucht 2019
The advantages of the falcon
are the higher speed and the greater resilience. Finally, the falcon
can defend itself against other birds of prey while the pigeon
becomes an easy victim.
Fig. 3: Jehrfalcon und
Peregrinfalcon. Source: Woods, The Illustrated Natural History,
London about 1861
According to a rule of
thumb, a pigeon can easily carry about 3% of its own body weight,
that is 15-20 g for a carrier pigeon, a hawk that hunted a pigeon
easily carries 500-600 g. Falcons reach 300 km/h in a dive, the
normal flight speed is about half of that, while pigeons rarely
exceed 80-100 km/h during races.