Bird Brained

by Stephanie McDorman, Creation Museum Registrar

Bird-brained?  Why, thank you!

Birds generally do not garner much respect when it comes to intelligence.  In fact, most of us would not appreciate being called bird-brained, and those pigeons we see at the park certainly don’t seem capable of any brilliant feats.  If this is your attitude toward birds, you should definitely check out the new Birds of a Feather workshop at the museum.  You may be surprised!

I brought my family to the program on its first day to see what it was all about.  Greg West, a pigeon fancier, brought several live pigeons of many shapes and sizes and had them (in cages) all lined up on a table in the front of the room.  He kept us in suspense a while because many of them were covered with a blanket at first, but by the end of the presentation, we had seen it all—pigeons with “punk hair do’s,” “hairy feet,” one that looked like it had been working out, and several others.  Of course they don’t have hair, but certain “styles” of feathers make me think of hair.  So we learned one thing about pigeons easily—there are many different types of pigeons!  Selective breeding over the centuries has resulted in some very interesting varieties.

Greg shared the impressive history of the pigeon.  Pigeons have been used by mankind for thousands of years.  In fact, pigeons were used to announce the winners of the first Olympic games in Greece.  Pigeons were the fastest way to send messages until the telegraph was invented, and even after that, they were used for locations beyond the reach of the telegraph.

We learned about heroic pigeons who played important roles in wars and rescue pigeons who help find people lost at sea.  If you wonder how a pigeon can save lives, come to the workshop and find out!

My kids’ favorite part of the program was when they got to help Greg keep the tumbler pigeon from rolling off its mat!  Actually, my son liked it when the pigeon did roll off the mat and tumble right into the wall.  Don’t worry, the bird was fine, and my son is not cruel to animals—just amused when they do silly things.

When it comes to love, pigeons may surprise you as well.  They mate for life, and the birds seem to mourn the loss of their mates.  In fact, Isaiah may have recognized this when he referred to mourning like a dove (Isaiah 38:14).

Greg takes questions at the end of the program, and the audience had plenty of questions.  There is one question that Greg cannot answer, though.  How do homing pigeons find their way home?  No one knows.  He can offer some theories, but scientists just have not been able to figure out how their little brains manage to navigate hundreds of miles to find their way home.

So maybe being bird-brained is not such a bad thing!  At least not for birds—they were designed to do what they do, and they do it well!

The next showings of the After Their Kind workshop Birds of a Feather will be on February 27 at 2:00 and 4:00.  Tickets are just $2.50.  Come out to the Creation Museum and enjoy a flight through the wonderful world of the pigeon!

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