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They told him: Don't go to Jersey Hill. You'll lose your birds.
February 7, 2013 6:51 AM   Subscribe

The case of the disappearing homing pigeons. Between 1968 and 1987, about 900 homing pigeons released at the Jersey Hill fire tower in upstate New York got lost, never to be seen again. Why couldn't they find their way home?
posted by shothotbot (25 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe they just thought better of it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:55 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't they find their way home?

Because pigeons are delicious?
posted by IvoShandor at 7:02 AM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's called Jersey Hill, but it's in Upstate New York. Birds, after all, define "bird brained", so they read a map, and decided they must have to go to New Jersey to find Jersey Hill.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, someone uttered "Where did all these f***ing pigeons come from?" The pigeons found spilled popcorn on the boardwalk, and were happy. The cats under the boardwalk were happier.
posted by eriko at 7:09 AM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


There have been a number of theories over the years but it was only in October 17, 2012 that Jon Hagstrum published a paper suggesting it is ultrasound. More info and the abstract.
posted by stbalbach at 7:14 AM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nah, they ended up on Jersey Hill Road, just outside of Ithaca.
posted by mareli at 7:16 AM on February 7, 2013


It's Mr Rabbit
posted by fullerine at 7:17 AM on February 7, 2013


and decided they must have to go to New Jersey to find Jersey Hill.

Except that the state called New Jersey is actually the state of New Jersey and a little spilled popcorn could never have been bait enough.

I'm gonna go with the Bermuda Triangle.
posted by three blind mice at 7:18 AM on February 7, 2013


This is a lot more interesting than my first thought, which was a colony of extremely happy eagles.
posted by figurant at 7:18 AM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Picked off by hawks.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:37 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty skeptical of the ocean sounds explanation.

1) It says they can hear down to .5 Hz but that the infrasound is "every 6 seconds", i.e. around .17 Hz. Maybe some Super Pigeons can hear down that level, but if they are relying on it then surely they'd be more closely matched.

2) Pigeons live other places than near oceans and I've never heard of pigeons not working in, say, Iowa.

I'd also like to see some evidence of infrasound recordings taken at Jersey Hill (with and without temperature inversions) rather than reliance on a model.
posted by DU at 7:40 AM on February 7, 2013


If I read it correctly DU, the article said they can hear down to 0.05 Hz, not 0.5.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:44 AM on February 7, 2013


I've never heard of pigeons not working in, say, Iowa.

That's because they're down home, corn fed, hard working real American pigeons in Iowa, not those liberal northeastern socialist loving "pigeons" up in New York. Also, CLINTON.
posted by eriko at 7:48 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yessir, in Iowa, we call 'em Rock Doves.
posted by boo_radley at 8:02 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, missed a zero. Still, I think the lack of oceans in Iowa may be a problem for this theory.
posted by DU at 8:23 AM on February 7, 2013


iOS Maps app beta testers
posted by mikepop at 8:43 AM on February 7, 2013


Oh yeah, missed a zero. Still, I think the lack of oceans in Iowa may be a problem for this theory.

They're claiming that the infrasounds travel thousands of miles, not just locally.
posted by yoink at 9:22 AM on February 7, 2013


eriko: "not those liberal northeastern socialist loving "pigeons" up in New York"

You forgot latte-sipping.
posted by brundlefly at 9:32 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The word on the powerline is that Jersey Hill is a nice place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there.
posted by srboisvert at 9:43 AM on February 7, 2013


yoink: " They're claiming that the infrasounds travel thousands of miles, not just locally."

That has been known for a while, hasn't it? A whole host of mammals communicate with or signal each other through infrasound, across many hundreds of miles.
posted by zarq at 9:47 AM on February 7, 2013


Sometimes the solution to a mystery is so obvious that the fact that is hasn't been solved is frustrating even to the casual investigator.

In this case: dragons. It's so easy to see from where I'm sitting that dragons have been eating all the pigeons.
posted by item at 10:01 AM on February 7, 2013


Where are you sitting that you can see dragons?!
posted by maryr at 11:09 AM on February 7, 2013


Shadow zone, eh? How do I make one of those in my neighborhood?
posted by orme at 11:44 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Re: pigeons in Iowa, from the article: "infrasounds can travel thousands of miles in the atmosphere."
posted by stbalbach at 7:12 PM on February 7, 2013


This is very cool; thank you for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:03 PM on February 7, 2013


Where are you sitting that you can see dragons?!

Probably somewhere near this guy.
posted by scalefree at 9:25 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


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