Town Center residents recently visited the National Pigeon Museum in eastern Oklahoma City. The museum was established in 1920. It promotes and educates the public in the breeding, nurturing, and improvement of all recognized varieties of the domestic rock dove. Along with all the breed specific specialty clubs, the NPA approves, maintains, and publishes the “National Pigeon Association Book of Standards”. They also provide individually identifiable seamless leg bands or rings for all varieties of doves. These one of a kind rings allows them to positively identify each bird raised by their members and facilitates the birds safe return in case it becomes lost. Breeders today drive down to San Antonio or Houston and release their birds to race back home to Oklahoma City, flying approximately 65 mph. The winning pigeon’s breeder receives a monetary prize! These races continue throughout the breeder clubs all year long.
Residents browsed through the three-room museum which houses memorabilia back to WWI. Pigeons are responsible for saving thousands upon thousands of lives by carrying important messages in the military. Pigeons have received the medal of honor several times for serving our soldiers in WWI and WWII. Pigeons were also used to carry a piece of the winning ribbon back to a country’s homeland to show one of their citizens had won an event in the early Olympics. That’s why the release of the pigeons is still part of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics even today.
Celebrities owning pigeons are or were: Walt Disney, Queen Elizabeth, Mike Tyson, Terry Bradshaw, Tony Curtis, Charles Darwin, Gypsy Rose Lee, Pablo Picasso, Willie Mays, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, & More.
We watched a 30 minute video on the history and the many stories involving pigeons. Known to mate for life and be one of the most nurturing and loving species, they are very gentle and cuddly. They had several species there for us to view and hold. They each have to be held a different way, depending on their tails or legs. They love to cuddle up against your chest and purr almost like a kitten. The birds they house there were all named by grade school children. The most popular ones are Elvis who is black with iridescent turquoise and purple feathers (and he is the only one who is not monogamous, having four girlfriends), Charlie Brown who is a light brown sleek bird, Curly who is a gray bird with curly feathers almost like he has had a perm, and the fourth is named after a villain in a Disney movie. He has a big mane of fluffy dark brown feathers around his head and the rest of his body is white. All have their own unique personalities. This was a fun and different outing for everyone…no one knew it existed and it was so interesting to learn all about these magnificent birds!