Since 1996, more than 500 people (mostly kids) have helped scientists gather pigeon data. Project PigeonWatch is run by Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology. Children from the US, Japan, Russia, and Kazakhstan have participated.
PigeonWatchers find a flock of feral pigeons to study. "Feral" means a domestic animal that's now wild. They count the birds according to color type (called "morph"). There are eight pigeon morphs, ranging from "blue bar" (referring to the dark stripes on the wings) to "red," "pied splash," "checker," and so on.
Rock doves were originally "blue bars." The other morphs were the result of domestic breeding. No feral animal has retained its domesticated colors for more than a few generations - except pigeons. Why? It's a mystery.
PigeonWatchers get a color-morph poster, tally sheets, data forms, an instruction booklet, and a periodic newsletter. The yearly fee is $15, whether you register as a group or as an individual. Call 1-800-843-BIRD for more information.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society