American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A pigeon trained to return to its home roost.
- n. A variety of domesticated rock pigeon (Columba livia) that has been selectively bred to be able to find its way home over extremely long distances.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. any pigeon trained to return home from a distance. Also called
carrier pigeon. Most are bred from the domestic pigeon Columba livia. Homing pigeons are used for sending back messages or for flying races. By carrying the birds away and releasing them at gradually increasing distances from home, they may be trained to return with more or less certainty and promptness from distances up to four or five hundred miles. The birds typically do not stop on their way home, and may average as much as 60 miles per hour on their return trip. If the distance is increased much beyond 400 miles, the birds are unable to cover it without stopping for a prolonged rest, and their return becomes doubtful. The record for returnig from a distance is close to 1,200 miles. Homing pigeons are not bred for fancy points or special colors, but for strength, speed, endurance, and intelligence or homing instinct. Although used since ancient times, homing pigeonshave been largely displaced for practical purposes by radio and electronic communications, but they are still used in some special situations at the end of the 20th century. They were used in military operations as recently as in World War II.
- n. pigeon trained to return home
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309 species of pigeon according to
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milk.Thirty-two pigeons have been decorated with the Dickin Medal.
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