Pigeons Are Bred with Camouflage for War Service (Jan, 1941)
Pigeons Are Bred with Camouflage for War Service
Camouflaged pigeons, with a mottled plumage to make them almost invisible to an enemy’s waiting gunners, have been developed for emergency Army communication by Capt. Ray R. Delhauer, a retired United States Army pigeon expert, at Ontario, Calif. Most of his flock of several hundred birds are descendants of the hardier strains of pigeons used by the Allies and Germans in the last war.
Believing that the World War pigeons were too vulnerable because bright patches of white or colored feathers made them an easy target, Captain Delhauer bred and crossbred his birds until he achieved a strain with mottled gray and dusty white feathers on their .under-bodies as well as on their wings and backs.
The Army has today only 1,100 pigeons of its own for emergency communication, but Captain Delhauer believes there is just as much need for them as there was in the past. So that birds can be launched from war-planes without being thrust suddenly into a 300-mile-an-hour slipstream, he has built small metal cages with parachutes. Timing mechanisms open the cages and release the pigeons before the cages reach the ground. He has devised also a small metal message capsule, extremely light in weight, which can be inserted into a bird’s crop and subsequently removed by gentle massage after the pigeon has reached its destination.