How To Train Carrier Pigeons

Have you ever wanted to train carrier pigeons? These incredible birds have been used for centuries to deliver messages across long distances. With the rise of technology, carrier pigeons may seem obsolete, but they are still used for certain purposes and can be a fascinating hobby.

Training carrier pigeons may seem daunting, but with the right guidance, anyone can do it. In this article, I will provide step-by-step instructions on how to train carrier pigeons and start your own flock. Whether you’re interested in using them for practical purposes or just enjoy the beauty of these birds, training carrier pigeons can be a rewarding experience.

So, if you’re ready to take on the challenge of training carrier pigeons, let’s get started!

How To Train Carrier Pigeons

How To Train A Carrier Pigeon

Carrier pigeons, also known as homing pigeons, have been domesticated for around 5,000 years and were once used to transport important messages from one place to another. These birds are trained to carry messages weighing up to 50 grams.

In the past, carrier pigeons played a crucial role in communication, especially during times of war. They were used to delivering messages across enemy lines, as they could fly at high altitudes and navigate their way back to their home base.

Today, carrier pigeons are no longer used for communication purposes, but they remain an important part of avian history.

About to buy your first pigeon?

Pigeons have a long history of being useful to humans, including during WWI when they were used as carrier pigeons to deliver messages across enemy lines, potentially saving thousands of lives. These birds have an incredible ability to find their way back to their nest from distances of over 1,000 miles, making them an ideal choice for this purpose.

While the need for carrier pigeons has diminished with the advent of modern technology such as cell phones and email, there is still interest in training homing pigeons for entertainment and racing purposes. If you are a pet pigeon owner and want to train your bird to be a carrier pigeon, this guide can give you all the information you need to get started.

When to Start Training Your Carrier Pigeon

Getting the timing right is crucial when training homing pigeons. Starting too early or too late can affect the success of your training.

Experts recommend starting at around six weeks, as this is when pigeons begin to develop the skills necessary to be successful homing pigeons. At this stage, they are also able to remember the location of their coop or nest, which is an important aspect of homing pigeon training.

Starting at the right time can set your pigeons up for success and increase their chances of becoming reliable homing pigeons.

What You Will Need

Training carrier pigeons require specific materials and a different approach than keeping pigeons as pets. To train carrier pigeons, you’ll need a loft or dovecote with a trap door for releasing the pigeons. The loft should provide 10 cubic feet of space for each pair of homing pigeons and be located in a safe area away from predators and obstacles. If breeding pigeons, a separate area for nesting and incubating eggs is necessary.

In addition to the loft, you’ll need to provide food for your pigeons, including a mix of seeds, grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables. Water and grit may also be necessary for digestion. It’s recommended to offer food at set times instead of leaving it available all day and night.

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Overall, it’s important to have the proper materials and environment to train carrier pigeons successfully. Start with a small space and expand as necessary to meet the needs of your pigeons.

Buying Pigeons

If you’re interested in training carrier pigeons, you’ll need to purchase them from a reputable dealer. Healthy birds are essential, so it’s important to find a dealer you can trust. Prices can vary from $50 to several hundred dollars per bird.

Choosing a Reputable Dealer:

To ensure you’re getting healthy birds, it’s important to buy from a reputable pigeon dealer. Look for a dealer that has a good reputation and has been in business for a while. If possible, try to find a dealer that specializes in carrier pigeons.

Banded Pigeons:

When you purchase carrier pigeons, they should already come with identification bands on their legs. This is important because it allows you to keep track of each bird and monitor their progress. If the pigeons you purchase do not have bands, you will need to band them yourself.


The cost of carrier pigeons can vary widely, depending on the breeder and the quality of the birds. Prices can range from $50 to several hundred dollars per bird. It’s important to consider your budget and the quality of the birds when making your purchase.

Steps To Train Your Carrier Pigeon

Training carriers or homing pigeons to return home involves a process that requires patience and consistency. Here are some steps to follow:

Using The Trapdoor

Teaching homing pigeons how to use the trapdoor on their loft is a necessary first step before teaching them any other skills. This is how they will enter and exit their home, and it’s crucial that they can do this independently.

Begin the process by giving your pigeon the opportunity to venture outside of its designated living space to become accustomed to the environment. Once your pigeon has mastered this skill, you can move on to teaching them other essential skills.

Leaving the Loft

Teaching your pigeon to find its way home is important. Monitoring your pigeon’s progress and helping them learn the necessary skills is crucial. Start by placing your pigeon in a small crate or nest. Move about a mile away from its loft and release the pigeon to fly back home. This will help your pigeon learn without getting lost.

To improve your pigeon’s ability to find its way home, repeat the process several times a week. Gradually increase the distance from the loft as the pigeon becomes more experienced. Always monitor your pigeon’s progress and provide a safe and comfortable environment. With patience and practice, your pigeon will become a skilled navigator and always find its way back home.

Increasing Distance

To train your pigeon, start with a one-mile flight from home and gradually increase the distance each week by five miles. Vary the locations and directions of each flight to help the bird become more skilled at finding its way home from different distances and unfamiliar places.

Getting Your Pigeon to Fly Home

Getting your pigeon to find its way home can be a worry, but there are ways to make it easier.

Pigeons are instinctively homing birds, but you can entice them to return to the loft by providing good quality food and fresh water upon their return.

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By making coming home more attractive than hunting for its own food and water, your pigeon will be more likely to want to fly back to the loft.

Creating a comfortable and welcoming environment with positive interaction will also encourage your pigeon to return home willingly. With these steps, you can ensure that your pigeon will find its way home without much effort on your part.

Considerations to Keep in Mind

When training your homing pigeon, it’s important to remember that the distance you take it will affect the time it takes to fly back home. As you increase the distance, it may take more than a day for your pigeon to return to the loft. It’s important to be patient and avoid waiting around for your pigeon to come back.

Trust in the training you’ve given your pigeon and give it the time it needs to find its way home. While it may be difficult to let go, allowing your pigeon to complete the journey on its own is an important part of the training process.

How Do Pigeons Know Where To Deliver Messages?

Pigeons are often used to deliver messages, but how do they know where to go? The answer is simple: they are trained to fly back to their home.

When a note is attached to a pigeon, it will fly back to its home once released. This means that you cannot send a pigeon to multiple addresses, as it will only return to its trained home.

Training pigeons to deliver messages is a fascinating process that has been used for centuries. It requires patience and dedication, but the rewards can be great. Pigeons have been used in times of war and for important communication, making them an important part of human history.

Top Tips For Managing Your Carrier Pigeons

Carrier pigeons were employed as a means of transmitting crucial information during the First World War when other communication methods were not possible. These pigeons had the ability to travel up to 100 miles in harsh conditions to deliver messages to headquarters and bases.

The British Expeditionary Force issued guidelines for the Carrier Pigeon Service to assist with the challenging task of training and caring for these birds. The ‘Carrier Pigeons in War’ pamphlet issued in March outlined top tips for this service.

Keep the pigeons healthy:

Regular health checks and proper feeding are essential to keep the pigeons in good condition.

Train the pigeons well:

Proper training is crucial to ensure that the pigeons can navigate their way back to their home base.

Use the right equipment:

The right equipment, such as proper pigeon baskets and message tubes, is necessary to ensure that the pigeons can deliver their messages safely and efficiently.

Maintain communication lines:

It’s important to maintain communication lines between bases to ensure that messages can be delivered quickly and efficiently.

Keep records:

Accurate records of the pigeons and their messages should be kept to ensure that the service can be properly managed and improved.

Overall, the Carrier Pigeon Service was a crucial part of communication during the First World War, and these tips helped ensure that the pigeons were able to deliver their messages safely and efficiently.

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Other Tips For Managing Your Carrier Pigeons

When training your carrier pigeons, it’s important to provide clear, consistent instructions. This is best accomplished by creating a training routine and sticking to it, as this helps the birds understand what you expect from them. Breaking down each task into smaller steps can also help make the learning process easier for them.

Consider if a pigeon is needed

When considering sending a message by pigeon, it’s important to take into account the message’s significance, the availability of birds, the ability to replace those birds, and the possibility of using alternative methods of communication.

Write a clear message

It is recommended to write messages in a legible manner and ensure that all necessary information is filled out on the form.

Attach messages with metal holders, not rubber rings

The use of metal carriers is a simpler method that is currently popular.

When possible, send two copies

The photograph shows a sailor holding two pigeons, one named Pigeon CV 409 and given to the navy by King George V, and the other pigeon No. 4510, a long-serving bird that joined the Naval Pigeon Service early in the war and brought in many messages.

Pigeons and tanks

Sending two copies of a message is recommended when enough birds are available for the procedure.

Releasing pigeons from seaplanes

The sighting of a pigeon, sent from a seaplane without a message, is now acknowledged as a distress signal from that specific aircraft.

For use with airplanes and seaplanes, the special box designed for the purpose of carrying the birds should always be used.’

Lofting your pigeons

A London double-decker bus is being utilized as a mobile loft for carrier pigeons. Research has shown that pigeons can easily adapt to shell fire and remain undisturbed in their lofts. As a result, it is feasible to transport pigeons closer to the firing line with the use of mobile lofts.

Exercise your birds daily

At the Royal Engineers Signal Service Pigeon Camp, homing pigeons are exercised at least twice a day in fine weather. It is recommended that they do not sit around when not flying, in order for them not to develop a habit of slowness when returning a message.

Bathe your pigeons once a week

It is recommended to give carrier pigeons a bath at least once a week, regardless of the season, as seen in this image of pigeons bathing in a can.

Transport them in the appropriate basket

A group of Royal Engineer’s motorcyclists is transporting a basket containing four pigeons to the front line.

Various types of baskets are utilized in the pigeon service, and each must be equipped with a water trough, either permanent or removable, for hydrating the birds.

Start training your pigeons early

Pigeon chicks are kept in a bowl at the breeding pens in Sorrus. At three months old, these pigeons, referred to as squeakers, are trained for service work.

At this stage, they are capable of flying distances ranging from 10 to 50 miles in the field.


Training carrier pigeons can be a fun and rewarding experience. Whether you’re using them for a hobby or business, these birds are incredibly intelligent and capable of learning a wide range of skills.

So, if you’re ready to take on the challenge, grab some treats and get to work. With patience, consistency, and lots of positive reinforcement, you’ll have a team of skilled pigeons in no time!

Kathy Gonzales

I'm an author of I have kept pigeons as pets for over 20 years and have written several articles. Here in this blog, I cover topics such as how to care for pigeons, what to feed them, and how to keep them healthy.