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Having been invited to join some members
of the Society of Antwerp Pigeon Fanciers,
he wended his way about five o'clock one
morning through the silent streets of the
ancient city. A few members of the association,
he says, who directed the expedition,
were followed by servants carrying two flat
baskets in which the pigeons, about to be
dispatched, were carefully deposited. As we
proceeded  along, my companions related to
me some particulars concerning the carrier
pigeons, or "pigeons voyageurs" as these
winged messengers are designated. The
carriers are a peculiar race of pigeons endowed
with powers of memory and observation
which enable them to find their way to any
place by a course along which they have once
flown. Every kind of pigeon is not capable
of being taught to do this. Of the methods
adopted by the Antwerp association for training
and teaching these carriers, I learnt the
following particulars.

Supposing a dispatch of pigeons is to be
sent off from Antwerp to Brussels or Paris,
the birds are kept for some time at the place
of arrival or terminus, and during that
interval are plentifully fed and carefully tended.
By little excursive flights, taken day by day,
they are gradually familiarised with different
parts of the town in which they have been
nurtured and with places in its vicinity.
When sufficiently practised in finding their
way to short distances, the pigeons are
conveyed to a station some leagues from their
dove-cote. Here they are kept for a time
without food, and then set to flight. On
taking wing, they rapidly soar to a vast
height, scanning the line of the horizon to
discern the church spires, or other lofty points
which enable them to distinguish their home.
Some of the less intelligent birds lose their
way and are seen no more. Those who return
home (to Paris, or wherever else it may be),
are again plentifully fed. Then after a little
space of time they are carried in baskets some
miles further in the direction of Antwerp;
again they are put on a short allowance of
food and negligently tended. When the
pigeons depart on their next flight, the
Parisian church spires have sunk- far beneath
the horizon; however, they soon succeed in
combinig that portion of the route with
witch they are acquainted with the part as
yet unknown to them. They hover round
and round in the air, seeking to catch one
or other thread that is to guide them
through the  labyrinth. Some find it; others
do not.

In this manner the carrier pigeons are
practised bit by bit along the whole distance
between Paris and Antwerp. They
attentively observe, or study, and learn by heart,
each conspicuous object which serves them as
a land-mark on the way. It is usual to
exercise particular pigeons between the two
cities, which it is wished to connect by this
sort of postal communication; and it is necessary
to have a certain number for going, and
others for returning. After the birds have
been accustomed to inhabit a certain district,
and to travel by a particular route, it is
ound easy to divert them from their wonted
course, and to make them available in any
other direction.

My friends, the members of the Antwerp
Society, assured me that their pigeons had
frequently flown from Paris to Antwerp in
six or seven hours; consequently in a much
shorter time than that in which the same
journey is performed by the railway train.
By bird's flight, the distance between the two
cities is forty miles (German*), and therefore
it follows that these carrier pigeons must
travel at the rate of from twenty to thirty
English miles an hour. It is scarcely
conceivable that they should possess the strength
of wing and vigour of lungs requisite for such
a flight; and it is no unfrequeut occurrence
for several of them to die on arriving at their
journey's end. In stormy weather the loss of
two-thirds of the birds dispatched on such a
long flight, is a disaster always to be counted
on. It is, therefore, usual to send off a whole
flock, all bearing the same intelligence, so as
to ensure the chance of one at least reaching
its destination.

* The German mile includes nearly three and a half
English miles.

The pigeon expedition which I saw
dispatched from Antwerp, consisted of about
thirty birds. The point of departure was a
somewhat elevated site in the outskirts of the
city. A spot like this is always made choice
of, lest the pigeons, on first taking flight,
should lose themselves amidst the house-tops
and church-spires of the city with which they
are unacquainted; and by having the open
country before them, they are enabled to trace
out their own land-marks. When the pigeons
are to be sent off on lengthened journeys, it is
usual to convey them to the point of departure
at a very early hour in the morning:—by
this means they are dispatched in quietude,
unmolested by an assemblage of curious
gazers, and they have the light of a whole day
before them for their journey. Carrier pigeons
do not pursue their flight after night-fall,
being then precluded by the darkness from
seeing the surrounding country with sufficient
distinctness to enable them to discern their
resting-places, or stations. In the obscurity
of night the whole flock might light on strange
dove-cotes, and be captured; an accident
which would occasion the total failure of a
postal expedition, for the few pigeons who
might escape capture, would, on the return of
morning, be bewildered, and unable to recombine
their plan of route.

Pigeons are not suited for postal
communication between places so remote one
from another that the journey cannot be
completed in a single day. If it can be
accomplished in one flight, so much the
better. Antwerp and Paris are, I believe,