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Meet the birds with a backpack guaranteed to deliver their parcels on time

Posted on 12:53 PM by Sameer Shah

These pigeon couriers could be members of the last avian postal service in the world - and give Royal Mail a few ideas.

The birds, from the U.S. city of Fort Collins, Colorado transport digital images of intrepid white water rafters to be processed in what is known as the 'Pigeon Express'.

They fly from the top of the Cache La Poudre River down to a base at the bottom where thrill-seekers can collect their snaps.



The concept harks back to the days before the telegram.

The birds are owned and trained by Rocky Mountain Adventures, who fly 19 pigeons five times every day, usually travelling a distance of between 20 and 40 miles.



Using the pigeons is quicker than driving down from the river and it solves the problem of producing photographic memories for the white water rafting tourists. It takes them just 20 minutes.

'We began this as an interesting solution to the problem we encountered with the distance from the bottom of La Poudre to our base 30 miles away back in Fort Collins,' says David Costlow, the head pigeon keeper at Rocky Mountain Adventures.



'We realised that we needed something that could fly like an eagle and thought "bird" and that quickly became "pigeon". And now we believe we are flying the only pigeon postal service in the world.'

Through research, he found a professional pigeon racer in nearby Greeley, who introduced him to a breeder in Fort Collins.



Between the two, he obtained pigeon chicks and plenty of advice on feeding, training, and general pigeon care.

Carrying the digital chips in a lycra bag that weighs only grams, the pigeons are meticulously trained over a period of seven months, with some needing over a year of 'homing' training.



'We take the birds on at four months and make them realise that Fort Collins and Rocky Mountain Adventures is their home,' explains David. 'Once they do that it is plain flying.'

As they are high in the Rocky Mountains, all the pigeons unfortunately run the risk of being lost in the line of action, says David.

'We have lost some pigeons to hawks and eagles up here in Fort Collins,' he adds.

'We lose five on average every year. But we've only lost seven digital chips in the last 14 years.'

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