(Columbidae - Please see also Doves)
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A team of navy researchers trained pigeons to save human lives at sea as part of "Project Sea Hunt."
Pigeons have better eyesight than humans and are, therefore, uniquely qualified for search-and-rescue missions. They were trained to identify the red or yellow life jackets of people floating in the water.
The pigeons were carried by helicopters and when they saw a life jacket, they pecked a keyboard, which set off a light. Then the helicopter moved closer until the humans were able to see the life jacket.
The pigeons were not only found to be more reliable than humans but they were also many times quicker than humans when it came to spotting survivors from a capsized or sinking boat. The pigeon can see color in the same way that humans do but they can also see ultra-violet - a part of the spectrum that humans cannot see.
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Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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