Did you know that aerial landscape postcards were once taken by pigeons?
Here’s how it worked; A homing pigeon would wear an aluminum breast harness that attached an extremely lightweight time-delayed camera onto it. Homing pigeons are a selective breed of pigeons raised to find their way home from long distances.
Dr. Julius Neubronner created and patented a pigeon camera in 1907. Although his initial application for a German patent was rejected, it was granted in December of 1908 after he showed actual photos that were taken by the pigeons. The invention went on to gain publicity when he presented it at the Dresden International Photographic Exhibition in 1909 and even more so the following years when he sold the photographs as postcards at Paris Air Shows.
The potential of these pigeon cameras being used for military purposes stirred up during World War I, but quickly diminished due to the rapid increase in aviation technology throughout the war.
Dr. Neubronner ended up ditching his invention soon after its popularity faded. Although they did make a comeback in the 1930s, the extent to how extensively they were used is unknown.
The CIA matured the initial idea and created a battery-powered camera designed for espionage pigeon photography. However, the details of their use are still classified to this day.