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Carrier pigeons are common domestic pigeons, or rock doves (Columba livia), that have been trained to fly back to human-tended lofts on being released with messages attached to their tail feathers or legs. For hundreds of years, carrier pigeons have been used extensively to send long-distance messages, and in the 19th and 20th centuries, they became an essential backup communication tool in situations where more modern technologies failed or were impractical, particularly in wartime. Pigeons were also one of the first unmanned aerial surveillance technologies; they were successfully used for airborne photography more than 100 years ago. Even in recent times, information transfer has been carried out covertly through this secure, low-technology means. This entry first reviews the capabilities and early uses of carrier pigeons, ...

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