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  • We see it in movies and TV shows all the time -- birds delivering messages.

  • Whether it's a historical drama or the ravens in Game of Thrones, one has to wonder, can birds actually deliver messages with accuracy?

  • Not to burst your fantasy bubble, but ravens, while incredibly intelligent, aren't the likeliest of birds to get this job done.

  • Sorry, Jon Snow.

  • But the somewhat surprising fact is that other birds, such as pigeons, are fantastic at it.

  • Hence, the name "Carrier Pigeon."

  • In fact, they were successfully used nearly 3000 years ago to declare the winner of the Olympics abroad.

  • Pigeons have an innate homing ability, meaning they'll return to their nest to mate.

  • Flights as long as 1800 kilometers have been recorded.

  • Because of this, they've been used for centuries to send messages.

  • But, and this is a pretty big but.

  • They generally only send messages in one direction.

  • They'd be taken away from their homes, and when needed, could send messages back home.

  • Because their natural instinct was to fly there.

  • So, the idea of sending a bird wherever you need it to go is a little farfetched.

  • However, by placing their food at one location and their home in another, pigeons have been trained to fly back and forth between two locations reliably.

  • They have great eyesight and use the sun and the stars, landscapes, odors, sound waves and potentially even the earth's magnetic field to locate home.

  • Not to mention, they seem to have an internal compass which orients them.

  • And because of their migratory behavior, they can be trained as flocks, as opposed to other birds which would require one-on-one attention to accomplish the task.

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  • We recommend the book "How We Got to Now" by Stephen Johnson, which covers six innovations that made the modern world.

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We see it in movies and TV shows all the time -- birds delivering messages.

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