Many of us call pigeons “flying rats” because they can spread quickly and cause quite a nuisance, especially around restaurants and businesses where their droppings are not only messy but also toxic.

But one documentary, called The Secret Life of Pigeons, seeks to shed light on the pigeon as a creature domesticated and bred by humans.

Pigeons Have Served Humans Almost Like Dogs

It turns out that while most of us associated pigeons with city parks and businesses where flocks accumulate to grab a snack, the lowly pigeon has provided humans with all kinds of useful services.

The documentary shows that for centuries we’ve used them for communications, food, and much more. The film does establish one thing quickly – pigeons are much more intelligent than most people give them credit for. What you may not realize is that pest control companies know how smart they are and how difficult they are to eradicate.

The Secret Life of Pigeons tracked these birds to show how they are able to thrive in difficult environments like big cities where the danger is everywhere, from speeding cars to hawks. The film was made by placing an HD camera on a pigeon and it gives some incredible “birds-eye” views of what these creatures experience.

Here are a few things you might not know about the “rats with wings” that you see on the Las Vegas strip:

  • Pigeons can see things in slow motion which is why they can magically get out of the way of cars at the last possible second.
  • There is a Canadian Pigeon Fanciers Association that races pigeons and has a Best in Show for the most beautiful birds.
  • Charles Darwin used pigeons to prove his origin of the species theory.
  • Pigeon racing is a big-money sport; winning racers can sell for $300,000! (Source)
  • Pigeons can live to be 20 years old and mate for life.
  • Pigeons have been used to deliver messages during war. During the first and second World Wars, they saved human lives by carrying messages over enemy lines. (Source)
  • They have an uncanny ability to find their way home. In fact, scientists have studied this incredible trait over 10-years, suggesting that pigeons use roadways to navigate along with the earth’s magnetic field. (Source)
  • Pigeons can recognize faces and researchers have shown they can see differences between groups of objects.
  • Pigeons have been studied extensively in labs where they’ve found these creatures able to problem solve at a level similar to rhesus monkeys! (Source)
  • Pigeons are now being used to spot people lost at sea. It turns out the birds can see not only in color in the same way people do, but they also see in the ultra-violet spectrum, which makes it easier for them to spot people bobbing in the ocean. (Source)
  • In fact, pigeons can even solve mathematical equations!
  • Of all bird species, the pigeon is one of the most intelligent.

So, the next time you see a flock of pigeons in Las Vegas, think about this article. While they can overrun out cities, becoming a real nuisance, they also have an interesting history, clear intelligence, and real use to human beings who coexist with these “flying rats.”