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Although pigeons nowadays are largely regarded as grubby urban pests, bumblers for bread crumbs, and unwelcome statuary redecorators -- in the not-too-distant past, their service to mankind was much loftier indeed. Not only were these hardy birds used to swiftly carry important messages and materials across great distances, for a brief stint at the turn of the last century, an elite group of camera-wielding pigeons also became early pioneers of a then burgeoning field: aerial photography.
In 1903, a German pharmacist named Julius Neubronner started employing carrier pigeons to receive and fulfill emergency prescriptions from a hospital in the region
During the both World Wars, various militaries experimented in the using camera-strapped pigeons on reconnaissance missions, though it's unclear how helpful these photographs actually were.
According to some reports, still mostly classified, the CIA attached battery operated cameras to the birds even as late as the 1970s.