Pigeon Appreciation Day
About Pigeon Appreciation Day
When is Pigeon Appreciation Day? This holiday is always celebrated on June 13
Without a doubt, many of you who read about this holiday initially think “What a dirty bird. Why do we have Pigeon Appreciation Day?” After you finish reading this article, you will likely become a fan of pigeons and celebrate this June 13 holiday. For example, we will describe to you how a single pigeon is credited with saving the lives of 194 American servicemen during World War I. That alone is a reason to celebrate pigeons in my book.
Pigeons get a bad rap, largely because there are so many of them on city streets scrounging for a free meal. But they are not dirty birds and do not spread disease as some believe. Pigeons are entertaining to watch. Just sit on a park bench and watch them in action. And while you are watching, feed them. Chances are they will remember you the next time you sit on a park bench. They remember the hand that feeds them.
Perhaps the best example of how people love pigeons is in the movie Mary Poppins (1964). In the movie, she is the nanny for two children who go on to feed the birds as Mary Poppins sings “Feed the Birds, Tuppence a Bag”. Do you know what those birds were? You guessed it, pigeons.
Did You Know? “Tuppence” is another word for two pence. It’s 3-4 U.S. cents.
The Story of Cher Ami, an American Hero
On October 3, 1918, U.S. Army Major Charles W. Whittlesey and 550 men under his command were caught by a hillside behind enemy lines. They had little food and ammunition. The Germans were pummeling them. In addition, allied forces did not know they were there, and the troops were suffering casualties from friendly artillery fire. Many American soldiers were killed or injured.
Desperate for relief, Major Whittlesey attached notes to homing pigeons seeking rescue. The first two homing pigeons sent out were shot down by German forces. Then, Whittlesey released a third homing pigeon named Cher Ami with the message “We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it.”
Despite being shot twice, Cher Ami made it back to the Allied lines. This stopped the friendly fire shelling. Of the 550 men under Whittlesey’s command, only 194 survived thanks to Cher Ami. Cher Ami survived his injuries. He died on June 13, 1919.
Here’s some pigeon trivia to share with your friends:
- At one time, pigeons were the most populous bird in the world.
- There are many pigeon shows and races all over the world.
- It is estimated that at one time, there were over 5 billion in America alone.
- They date back over 3,000 years.
- People keep them as pets.
- In the wild they live 3 – 10 years. Pet pigeons live 9 – 15 years.
- They were popular as a source of food.
- The common city pigeon is a rock pigeon. It was the first bird ever domesticated.
- They are very social, living in groups.
- They mate for life.
- Sunflowers are one of their favorite foods.
- During WWII American forces had 200,000 homing pigeons.
- A pigeon can find its way back to their nest from 1,300 miles away.
How to Celebrate Pigeon Appreciation Day
It is very easy to celebrate and participate in Pigeon Appreciation Day:
- Feed the birds. According to Mary Poppins, it just tuppence a bag.
- Attend a pigeon show or race.
- Learn more about pigeons.
- Take pictures of them.
- Give your support and donations to animal rights and protection groups, and especially those that help birds of all kinds.
- Do your best to protect the habitat of pigeons and other birds.
- Grade schoolteachers can teach their class about pigeons and have the students draw pictures of them in art class.
- Keep a pigeon as a pet.
“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” – – A. A. Milne
History and Origin of Pigeon Appreciation Day
Dan Richardson of Pigeonpedia says his organization sponsors and promotes this holiday. But they are not the creators of the holiday which we celebrate and enjoy around the world. Pigeonpedia is passionate in its defense and support for pigeons. Richardson says “I think it’s good to remember all animals and the difference they make to society. Pigeons are often overlooked but they are wonderfully intelligent birds.”
The date was selected because the famous WWI homing pigeon “Cher Ami” died on June 13, 1919. As previously described, Cher Ami was directly responsible for saving 194 American lives. That’s a good reason to celebrate this holiday. It is not known when this holiday began.
Some internet websites have begun to call this “National Pigeon Day”. Richardson says he prefers the original title of this day as Pigeon Appreciation Day, as they are underappreciated.
More June 13 Holidays
Here are more June 13 holidays we are sure you will enjoy:
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