Networks Notes: RFC 1149 – IP over Avian Carriers

This is a series containing notes I made while reading RFCs.

Link to this RFC.


Avian carrier

A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers.

Note: this was the April Fool’s RFC for the year 1990. 🙂

  • Describes an experimental method for sending IP datagrams over “avian carriers” (pigeons!)
  • Primarily useful in Metropolitan Area Networks
  • Experimental, not recommended standard.

Overview and Rational

  • Avian carriers provide:
    • high delay
    • low throughput
    • low altitude service
  • Connection path limited to a single point-to-point path for each carrier.
  • Many carriers can be used without significant interference with each other, outside of early spring.

Frame Format

  • Scroll of paper wrapped around avian carrier’s leg.
  • Bandwidth depends on leg length.
  • MTU typically 256 mg. Paradoxically, generally increases as carrier ages.


  • Prioritized pecking order can be used for multiple types of service.
  • Built-in worm detection and eradication
  • Storms can cause dataloss.
  • Persistent delivery retry, until the carrrier drops.

Security Considerations

  • Not generally a problem in normal operation
  • Data encryption needed in tactical environments.

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