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.

www.taubensell April 2020