Elizabeth G. Macalaster will give a virtual presentation Thursday, January 21 at 7PM on her new book War Pigeons: Winged Couriers in the U. S. Military 1878 – 1957. 

Join the Zoom webinar with this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89274054144

The presentation will also be available live on the Curtis Library’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/curtislibrary

For more than seven decades homing pigeons provided the U.S military with its fastest most reliable means of communication.  Trained by pigeoneers to fly up to 60 mph for hundreds of miles, homing pigeons served our country in four wars on four continents.  Weighing barely a pound, these extraordinary birds carried messages in and out of gas, smoke, exploding bombs and gunfire.  They flew unwavering through jungles and over desert and icy mountains, not faltering even when faced with an expanse of ocean to cross.  Time and again, when all other means of communication failed, pigeons were trusted to carry home vital messages.  Sometimes they arrived nearly dead from wounds or exhaustion, but only death itself stopped them.

War Pigeons: Winged Couriers in the U.S. Military, 1878-1957, is the first complete accounting of the remarkable service of homing pigeons with American armed forces, from its fledgling beginnings after the Civil War, to the birds’ invaluable role in communications through both world wars and beyond.  War Pigeons chronicles a poignant and enduring legacy.

Elizabeth Macalaster started her career as a marine biologist, studying a deep-water, North Atlantic octopus.  She then turned to science journalism and worked for the Department of the Interior and the EPA on water quality issues.

Elizabeth writes science and history articles for magazines and newspapers on topics ranging from bridges to homing pigeons. Why homing pigeons? She grew up with barnyard birds as pets and has maintained an interest in bird flight. While researching a young adult book about female spies, she came across information about homing pigeons making reconnaissance flights with cameras strapped to their chests. As the feathered spies flew over the countryside, the tiny camera snapped photos of the landscape below. The swift and strong little bird snagged her curiosity, and she began her foray into the world of homing pigeons.

Elizabeth lives with her husband on the coast of Maine where she likes to hike, row and watch land and seabirds.

For more information on this event, call 725-5242.