Pigeons and Weather Warnings

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Abstract

IN the Standard of the 5th instant is an account of a pigeon race from Penzance to London, a distance of 270 miles, which was done by one bird in 5 hours 34 minutes, and by another in 5 hours and 59 minutes. Might not the carrier-pigeon be employed to bring accounts of the weather 300, 400, or even 500 miles out in the Atlantic, being despatched on outward voyages by ships leaving ports such as Queenstown, Southampton, Dartmouth, Plymouth, or Falmouth? The great difficulty in our system of weather-warnings is that storms reach us unannounced over the Atlantic, because stations are of course out of the question on the ocean. If the daily sailings of steamers from various ports could be utilised by means of pigeons, this void might to some degree be filled. If it be true that many storms come to us along the course of the Gulf Stream, a branch of it (Rennell's Current) would be met a little beyond the Scilly Islands, say 100 miles farther out, or about 150 miles from Falmouth. If a bird brought a weather-warning in three hours from what would appear to be an important point, it would surely advance matters a good deal. A great part of England can be warned from the Irish coast, but Scotland has no advance-guard of this sort. Steamers leaving Greenock for America could carry pigeons and send warnings back, thus giving Scotland some protection.

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R. Pigeons and Weather Warnings. Nature 20, 363 (1879) doi:10.1038/020363a0

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