The Domestic Pigeon (Columba livia f. domestica) was derived from the Rock Pigeon. The Rock Pigeon is the world's oldest domesticated bird. Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets mention the domestication of pigeons more than 5,000 years ago, as do Egyptian hieroglyphics. Research suggests that domestication of pigeons was as early as ten thousand years ago. People who keep domestic pigeons are generally called pigeon fanciers. Domestic pigeons can often be distinguished from feral pigeons because they usually have a metal or plastic band around one (sometimes both) legs which shows, by a number on it, that they are registered to an owner.
Pigeons have made contributions of considerable importance to humanity, especially in times of war. In war the homing ability of pigeons has been put to use by making them messengers. So-called war pigeons have carried many vital messages and some have been decorated for their services. Medals such as the Croix de guerre, awarded to Cher Ami, and the pigeon Medal awarded to the pigeons G.I. Joe and Paddy, amongst 32 others, have been awarded to pigeons for their services in saving human lives. Despite this, many people[who?] consider pigeons to be pests. Domestic pigeons are sometimes called "thoroughbreds of the air," while feral pigeons are sometimes called "rats with wings." A group of pigeons is called a "kit".
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