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A Tribute To The Proud And Peaceful Pigeon

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B. F. Skinner thought pigeons were so smart they could be used to guide missiles during World War II. He proposed a system in which pigeons would essentially pilot a missile. Skinner said pigeons could be trained to peck at a screen to adjust the trajectory of the missile toward its target. Project Pigeon was funded but never used.

In 2013, New York conceptual artist Duke Reilly trained half his flock of pigeons to carry contraband cigars from Cuba to Florida and the other half to carry tiny video cameras documenting the smuggling flight of their comrades.

Another group of researchers trained pigeons to reliably distinguish between the paintings of Picasso and Monet, even if they had never before seen a particular painting.

This hour, everything you ever wanted to know about pigeons.


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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired November 12, 2013.

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