The 39 Clues


The encyclopedic guide to useless facts on the internet.
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Spy Pigeons

Since the twelfth century, humans have used pigeons to gain intelligence and send messages during wartime. Why use birds for espionage? Pigeons are stealthier and speedier than human spies. It’s also a lot easier for a pigeon to cross into enemy territory unnoticed. They’re also trustworthy; they never spill secrets. Um . . . that’s because they can’t talk. What?! Of course they can talk. They can mimic human speech! Are you thinking about parrots? Because pigeons definitely can’t talk.

In World War One, both sides used pigeons to send top secret messages. A brave bird named Cher Ami was even awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre, a French prize for bravery, after he was wounded carrying an important dispatch.

Pigeons can be equipped with cameras to take photos behind enemy lines. Today, modern technology makes it difficult to differentiate a spy pigeon from an untrained bird because they are no longer strapped with bulky cameras. That’s true! I saw one when I was on vacation in Germany last week. The pigeon was wearing the teeniest little camera. It was almost invisible. What are you talking about? Why would there be a random spy pigeon in Germany? I don’t know, but it was taking pictures of Neuchswanstein Castle. That’s pretty bizarre.