This communication research was for the birds

There’s been plenty of interesting communications research done in the college over the past century — most of it in the department now known as Life Sciences Communication. But a bit over 90 years ago, a geneticist got into the game. L.J. Cole, who established the Department of Experimental Breeding (the genetics department was called that at first), undertook experiments with carrier pigeons under the direction of the U.S. army. “Twenty-five young pigeons have been received from the signal corps for use in flying investigations, and 14 old birds for breeding have been donated by a Cleveland pigeon fancier,” according to a newspaper account at the time.

The photo shown here surfaced recently in the files of the CALS communcations program. The caption on the back reads: “Soldiers experimenting in the carrier pigeon branch.” The photographer is identified as “U.W. Lab.” That, plus the article mentioned above (tracked down by Extension poultry scientist Ron Kean) is all that we’ve learned about the work so far. If anyone knows more about the work we’d love to hear about it.