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In my world my protagonist is stuck in a city that is being lain siege to. The city needs to get a message to a fleet.

Messages are delivered by sharp-skinned hawks (actual bird), but the problem is the invading army is using ferruginous hawks (actual bird) to capture these hawks before they can take flight.

In order to solve this problem a large flock of pigeons will be painted to look like the sharp-skinned hawks as decoys.

Will paint have any effect on the flight ability of the pigeons?

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Don't use paint, but a dye because they are lighter.

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3184984/Mystery-pink-pigeons-SOLVED-Fancier-dyed-birds-s-feathers-confuse-falcons-says-won-t-knows-harm-them.html

Also, your protagonist could train some archers to protect your hawks at least for the first hundred yards. The other hawks won't get near if they see a flaming arrow flying in their direction.

And maybe your hawks will get afraid and fly faster.

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Will paint have any effect on the flight ability of the pigeons?

  • It will add weight. Depending if you use spray paint or liquid paint, it will be less or more
  • It will limit the mobility of the wings
  • It will affect the aerodynamic of the wings

All in all, it will affect the ability to fly. If not completely prevent it, at least hamper it.

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Let's just say that the hawks will not be fooled, regardless of the color of their preys. Pigeons are no raptors and will not act like one or move like one or at the same speed. In other words, regardless of the effects body painting have on pigeons' ability to fly, they will be still meal.

As for the effects you ask about, yes, it will basically impair them: The plummage is essential in keeping the wings's aerodinamics. Your poor pigeons will have to suffer an extra weight on their bodies due to the paint and will be unable to maneuver.

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