One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Any of various chiefly tropical pigeons having bluish plumage; (now) especially pigeons of the genus Alectroenas, found on islands in the western Indian Ocean.
2Nautical slang. The lead attached to the sounding line; the plummet. Now chiefly historical.
to fly the blue pigeon
: (a) cant to steal lead (now historical); (b) Naut. slang to cast the sounding lead.
Late 17th century (in an earlier sense). From blue + pigeon.
blue pigeon/ˌbluː ˈpɪdʒ(ɪ)n/
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