Back in the 1940's many people had racing
or homing pigeons. On my street alone three people had pigeons not
counting myself. When these birds were raced they were placed in
crates and driven 50 to 100 miles and then released to fly home.
There was money bet on who would be the first to return to the coop.
Not unlike a horserace.
While most of us back then never saw them race; however, seeing
them fly was a common site. Remember them flying overhead in huge
circular paths. This was done daily to exercise them.
The homing ability of a pigeon is still not understood; however,
he still finds his way home. Because of this homing ability they
have been used to carry messages for eons. In 1943 my mother worked
Down Neck for Celanese to make celluloid capsules. These capsules
were attached to the leg of the pigeon in warfare. They would carry
combat information from the field back to the military headquarters.
Today with cell phones that is incomprehensible.
The pigeons like Newark have changed over the past 60 years. Pigeons
are Rock Doves and many came from the White Cliffs of Dover. They
were a bird with feet suitable only for walking on rocks or flat
surfaces. That's why they adapted so readily to living on buildings.
Their feet did not evolve for them to perch in trees or on wires.
But guess what they changed, now you see them in trees and on overhead
Their diet was a little strange by most standards it consisted
of 25% safflower, 25% corn, 20% raw peanuts, 15% wheat and 15% hemp.
That last ingredient was what made it strange. This hemp seed along
with the corn and safflower would spill onto the ground around the
pigeon coops. As you would expect in the summer some of these seeds
that fell into the dirt would germinate. My father as a policeman
said that was a concern of law enforcement.
So one might say what's the big deal? Guess what? Hemp seed germinates
into the marijuana plants.