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Homing Pigeon Web Quest 

Created by:
Kent Martin 
Saddleback Valley Unified School District


Purpose:   Do you want to learn about Homing Pigeons?  This exercise will offer you close-up information you need to  raise and enjoy Homing Pigeons as a hobby.  You will get to see photos of pigeons and visit other "cooooo"l  web sites that show other pigeons and how pigeons can be trained and raced.

Materials Needed:  Computer, Internet access

Your Task:  Read the following text about Homing Pigeons and answer the questions at the end of the reading selection.  Feel free to visit the Hyper links throughout your reading. 
(Hyper links are highlighted words) 

     Homing Pigeons are very interesting birds. They are different from pigeons you would 
frequent at parks because they are able to find their way home when released from distances hundreds of miles from home.  Scientists think Homing Pigeons have Magnetite within 
their brain that "draws" or "pulls" them home.  If you were to place a Homing Pigeon next to 
a wild pigeon you would not notice many differences.  They look remarkably alike. 
A Homing Pigeon may look more muscular than a wild pigeon and normally has an 
identification band on its leg. 

Click here for more background information on Homing Pigeons.

     Raising Homing Pigeons is fun.  You need a "loft" or house for your pigeons. 
A loft should have an indoor area as well as an outdoor area. The outdoor area 
must be caged in with wire so the pigeons can't fly away.  A wired enclosure also protects 
the pigeons from predators such as Raccoons, Opossums, Hawks, or even your neighbor's 
cat.  Lofts can range in size depending on how many pigeons you have.  Pigeons are 
birds that "roost" or sleep on something high off the ground so roosts need to be provided 
by their owners inside the loft. Water must be provided at all times for drinking and bathing. 
Small tubs work well for bathing pans and self waterers work great for the pigeons to drink
from. This will keep them "coooo"l during warm weather.  Pigeons should be fed 2 times 
daily a mixture of grains and pellets.  Pigeon pellets are available at most feed stores. 

Click here to find out more about Homing Pigeon lofts.

     Male and female pigeons usually remain mated for life.  Once the pigeons decide to 
breed they work together in building their nest.  Most Homing Pigeon Hobbyists provide 
the pigeons with nesting materials such as hay, straw, or pine needles.  Once the nest is 
built the female pigeon lays 2 white eggs about 1 1/2 inches in length.  The eggs are laid 
2 days apart.  Once the second egg has been laid the male and female pigeons take turns
incubating the eggs.  The male usually during the day- the female at night.   Approximately 
19 days after the second egg was laid  the chicks hatch.  They are covered in golden 
yellow down and are quite a sight to see.  Oversized beaks make it easy for the parents 
to feed the chicks by regurgitating into their mouths.  Within days, the chicks have
 tripled in size.

     It is important that the owner place the identification bands on the chicks
after the 5th day.  (The band fits the leg perfectly at this stage)

Click here for information about Homing Pigeon bands.

     Within 6 weeks the chicks will venture out of the nest and begin practicing flight. Baby 
Homing Pigeons are flying within 2 months and can be trained to return to the loft by 
teaching them to use a trap door entrance and released from short distances from the loft. 
As the pigeons learn to use the door accordingly,  they may be taken further from the loft and released.  Once the pigeons have successfully returned from 40 mile trips,  the pigeons have 
found their bearings and can be taken much greater distances. 

Click here for information on training Homing Pigeons. 

Click here to see a video of a beautiful male Homing Pigeon

     Pigeons are relatively easy to take care of but their owners need to be responsible in
meeting their food and water needs.  Raising Homing Pigeons can be a rewarding experience 
and a lot of fun!

                                                             Pigeon Loft

1.)  How is a Homing Pigeon different from a wild pigeon?  How are they similar?

2.)  What do scientists believe allows Homing Pigeons to find their way home?

3.)  What is  a pigeon loft?

4.)   What does it mean when a bird roosts?

5.)   List 3 predators of Homing Pigeons.

6.)   What do Homing Pigeons eat?

7.)   What do pigeons construct their nests of?

8.)   How many eggs do most pigeons lay?

9.)   How long to the parents incubate the eggs?

10.) Explain how baby pigeons are fed by their parents.

11.) Why do pigeon owners put leg bands on their birds?

12.) How soon after hatching can a baby pigeon fly?

13.) Explain how a pigeon owner trains young Homing Pigeons.

14.)  How do you think Homing Pigeons got their name?

15.) What did you learn about Homing Pigeons that you didn't know before?

Quick Links - Select and click "Go"

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August 15, 2000 
Revised August 25, 2000