OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A new road trip destination in central Oklahoma focuses on the history of the domestic pigeon and its contributions to mankind for thousands of years.
The American Pigeon Museum and Library in northeast Oklahoma City contains numerous photographs, paintings, trophies, artifacts, collectibles and much more memorabilia, The Oklahoman reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/1oqaojJ).
Pigeons were considered among the fastest way to send messages until the telegraph was invented. They played a tremendous role in both World War I and World War II, and they are still a way to send an undetectable message.
Lorrie Monteiro, the museum's curator, said pigeons have a negative reputation in the U.S. but are in the same family of birds as doves.
"We can dispel some of those misconceptions that are out there about pigeons," Monteiro said.
Pigeons come in almost 1,000 different breeds with varying types of feathers, sizes and colors. White doves are just white pigeons, she said, but pigeons get the bad rap.
"The fancy birds look totally different than what their perception is of the bird," Monteiro said, pointing out examples on a painting behind her that contained at least 100 unique breeds.
Whether a pigeon is for show, racing or sending secret messages, they are all descendants of the Rock Dove, which is "the one that left Noah's hands," said Jim Jenner, a pigeon expert and documentary filmmaker.
"They're very beautiful, very intelligent. Sadly, they're the most revered bird and yet the most reviled in many ways," Jenner said. "They've been tagged as being dirty and stupid and all these very inaccurate things and that's very sad because it's made it difficult for people who care about pigeons and believe they are a wonderful pet to have."
Jenner has made more than a dozen documentaries about pigeons, one of which he'll be premiering at the museum. The museum's theater area will display some of Jenner's films as well as film clips from World War I honoring the war's 100th anniversary.
"The birds are so tough. There's so many stories of birds delivering vital messages even though they were gravely wounded," Jenner said.