A pigeon can safely carry about 10% of its own body weight.
The average pigeon weighs in at around 2.5 ounces which converts to 300-500 grams, so your average run-of-the-mill bird could fly with 30-50 grams extra.
Of course, pigeons that carry things don’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts or for the sheer love of it.
They are compelled by whoever owns them.
Apart from simple communication, pigeons have been used as smugglers.
There have been cases of this misuse in Colombia, Russia and Brazil.
The contraband is secured in specially made pouches that the birds wear.
Such forbidden items as cell phones, SIM cards, UBS cords and batteries have been smuggled into prisons this way.
Let’s not forget drugs too.
Pigeon delivery is an almost perfect way to smuggle narcotics into a prison or other places for that matter.
They just fly over the walls, as bold as brass.
One unlucky pigeon was caught with a packet of pure heroin, which when cut, would have yielded around $3,300 (£2,500) in profits.
It is not known if the pigeon was charged and sentenced.
The poor bird may still be languishing behind the mesh of a high-security loft.
Life of Crime?
This could certainly be an employment opportunity for unscrupulous pigeons.
There are a lot of prisons around the world, with inmates eager to get their hands on contraband.
Just imagine, fly-by-night companies could spring up all over!
Back in 2009, when mass data transference wasn’t as good as it is today, a device called an ADSL was invented for that purpose.
A South African IT company was testing the machine, which was pretty slow compared to our more modern computers and some joker quipped that it would be quicker to send it by carrier pigeon.
The challenge was taken up by the company and a homing pigeon was sought to carry a 4 Gigabyte memory stick to a destination 60 miles away.
The plucky pigeon took the extra weight in his stride and flew off to where the data was being sent.
The frequent flyer arrived 1 hour and 8 minutes later.
It took another hour to download the data from the memory stick, but the pigeon won the day, as by time it was finished, the ADSL device had only managed to transfer 4% of the data.
No Heavy Lifting
As you can see, a little extra weight doesn’t bother these hardy little birds. They probably take it as a challenge.
Of course, there are limits.
A pigeon’s real ability lies in its flying and navigational skills, not weightlifting.