The CIA declassified its Cold War spy pigeon files. Many suspect that pigeons are working today as biotech spies for the government. Loaded with surveillance technology, the can spy on the public, but let’s just assume they’re focusing on our enemies, collecting personal data on CIA and FBI targets lurking inside America. Yes, the pigeon is the perfect covert drone.
But getting back to the Cold War days, the CIA invested much time, effort, and money in training pigeons to be spies. The declassified CIA files released in 2019 reveal that pigeons wearing tiny cameras on their breasts were trained to fly over sensitive sites in the Soviet Union and take photographs. After all, it could blend in among thousands of other birds. Who knows, maybe a KGB agent once sat on a park bench in downtown Moscow, feeding the pigeons while discussing sensitive missions with a fellow comrade… and was being recorded by a hungry pigeon gobbling down the peanuts he tossed to it?
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The technical wizards at Langley did not dream up this idea of training pigeons to be spooks. During World War I, pigeons were outfitted with tiny cameras and released over enemy territory. As the birds flew, the cameras clicked away, snapping photos. Since the earliest days of espionage, pigeons have been a spy’s best friend. They were also used to send messages back in ancient times, and the idea held on, for in the early 1900s, during World War I, records reveal that a homing pigeon flew back to its home after flying over 1600 miles at the peak speed of 60 miles per hour.
Lastly, this video: Declassified CIA documents show secret use of photographer pigeons in Cold War is quite revealing. I think you will enjoy it.
Robert Morton is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community, and relishes traveling to the Florida Keys and Key West, the Bahamas and Caribbean. He combines both passions in his Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster series. Check out his latest spy thriller: MISSION OF VENGEANCE.