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Continuing briefly on the book theme, I went into a bookstore today and as normal walked straight to the nature/pet section for a quick scan for any good books since I’m always on the lookout for new pigeon books.

One title caught my eye: Fifty Animals That Changed the Course of History – and I knew I had to have a peak inside to see whether they had included the humble pigeon. And I’m happy to report that they had!!

It is nice to see credit given to the pigeon for the services they have rendered to mankind. I sadly didn’t buy the book since I have absolutely no space left on the bookshelf (…or under the bed… or in the wardrobe) but I had a quick read at the pigeon section and they mentioned the fact that pigeons were used to send messages in ancient times as well as in WWI and WWII. Pretty much the stuff that us pigeon people all know about already, however, for those who don’t know anything about pigeons it’s a good thing to read.

I know the article about the friendship between an orphaned monkey and a dove made its rounds on the net a while ago, however, their story has also been published in a book (which I have, and love!): Unlikely Friendship: 47 True Stories of Animal Frienships

If you have any good books with pigeons or doves in it, I’d love to hear from you!


I’ve acquired a few more pigeon books to my little collection. The first was given to me by a friend, the second I found in a charity store, and the third, a little booklet, I ordered online. The three books are: Pigeons by Carl Naether (1984), Doves by Michael Gos (1989) and Feral Pigeons by Richard F. Johnston (1998).

Although these publications are old, they all favour the pigeon and dove, and therefore are worth a read.

An excerpt from “Pigeons”:

“Pigeon keeping is a delightful, educational activity for young and old alike. In this hobby, you deal with lovely, live birds which you can easily tame, and whose life cycle, from the eggs to the full-grown birds, you can observe at close range day in and day out. This affords you an excellent opporutinity to learn at firsthand how one of the most popular domesticated creatures propagates and maintains its kind.” (page 8 )

A little excerpt from the “Doves” book:

“Doves may be one of the most misunderstoon creatures in the animal kingdom. Throughout history, man has never allowed the dove to be himself. Instead, doves have always been a symbol of something else. … Perhaps it is this symbolism that makes a dove an attractive house pet to so many people.” (page 8 )

The first two books are more manuals on how to house, feed and care for pigeons and doves. The feral pigeon booklet is a more scientific read about the life of these birds in the wild, touching on the origins of feral pigeons, plumage variation and selection, breeding and reproductive data, as well as their relationship to people. I found these two quotes honest and important to note:

“Humans are responsible for creating domestic pigeons, and by extension also for the existence of feral populations. Humans have an obligation to treat all these pigeons in a humane manner.” (page 13)

“Pigeons are also elegant creatures of style and grace aloft, and are otherwise beautiful to watch. Our world is brightened by them.” (page 14)

Booklet

If you would like the booklet you can either read it on their website: http://www.emporia.edu/ksn/v45n2-december1998/index.html, request to have one posted to you (email them with your request) or click on this link for an downloadable copy: Feral pigeons PDF.

* * * *

Previous posts about my pigeon book collection: My pigeon books, Pigeon books on order and Pigeon breeds – book


It is a special day today: Georgie’s hatchday!

(Well, estimated day. We don’t know the exact date, only month, since she was found as a baby on the ground and taken to a rescue centre.)

Georgie is 4 years old, and still a baby in our eyes.

We have had her in our home for 3 years now, however, I’ve known Georgie for longer since she was brought to my work to be hand-reared and cared for. Georgie is the reason we fell in love with pigeons. Georgie is the source of my pigeon madness. :)

Now, how do you treat your pigeons on their special day when you spoil them so much everyday anyway? … Well, just give them more treats! :D Brioche is something that Georgie hasn’t had in a long time, so it was the choice treat for her on her hatchday.

And what else did she receive? Georgie received a card in the post from a friend (the lion card), and a card and two pigeon books from us that she’s been wanting. I’m sure I’m going to be reading these to her every night now.

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Georgie checking out her presents

Today has been a gloriously sunny day, perfect for a little sunbathing time.

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Georgie sunbathing

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Georgie enjoying the sunshine

A visiting feral pigeon wanted to wish Georgie a “happy hatchday” but wasn’t sure about us humans being in the garden.

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Feral pigeon on the roof

And Elmo has been on his best behaviour with Georgie today. He’s taken out his frustration on my feet instead. Ouch.

Georgie wants to send everyone a message of thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes she’s received on facebook. “Coo, coo, thank you!!” :D


I love living with pigeons. They’re just the best. :)

Elmo has been incredibly nice to me now that I get home from work before my husband does (who is Elmo’s “mate”, so to speak). Elmo tucks his head under his body, twitches his wings and coos invitingly to me, basically saying, “Come over, give me a cuddle, I love you.” What a sweetheart!

The other day we had burritos (veggie for me) and Elmo came over and very sweetly asked for some. It’s amazing how he does this. A particular look comes on his face and he makes sweet little movements – it’s hard to explain (and wonderful that we understand what he wants. He’s a pigeon, for crying out loud!). I tried to get it on camera, however, every time I took it out Elmo stopped what he was doing and started dancing to the camera. Show-off!

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Elmo and the empty plate

Some of you may know already that I’m a bit of a bookworm, a bookaholic if you may. I have 371 books and not a big enough bookcase to store them in (books are currently being used as a make-shift table in places). I keep my pigeon books and some bird and wildlife care books on my desk at easy reach and Templeton, the rat and Mr. Pigeon have pride of place on them to keep me company. :)

One day I’ll have to write a book about living with pigeons. In a way, this blog is keeping everything on record so that I can one day piece it all together.

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Templeton and Mr. Pigeon guard my books


I’ve received and read the three pigeon books I ordered a while back (see: Pigeon books on order). I now have eight books solely about pigeons and although a few of them have the same things written in them, they are all good books for information and references. The following books are the ones I have:

For information about fancy and racing pigeon housing and care:

  • Encyclopedia of Pigeon Breeds by Wendell M. Levi (1965)
  • Fancy Pigeons by Aad Rijs (2006)
  • Pigeons: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual by Matthew M. Vriends and Tommy E. Erskine (2005)
  • Understanding Pigeon Paramyxovirosis by H. Vindevogel and J.P. Duchatel (1985)

For information on the history and current situation between people and pigeons:

  • Pigeon by Barbara Allen (2009)
  • Pigeons by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (1997)
  • Pigeons: The fascinating saga of the world’s most revered and reviled bird by Andrew D. Blechman (2006)
  • Superdove: How the Pigeon took Manhattan… and the World by Courtney Humphries (2008)

I’ve ordered a few pigeon books second-hand, however, I’ve got a long wait since they’re being shipped from America. Here’s what I’m waiting for:

Pigeon (Animal) by Barbara Allen

Pigeon (Animal)

Pigeons by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, William Muanoz
Pigeons

Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan ... and the World

I hope they’re good but you never know when it comes to pigeon books. Some people write lovely things, others aren’t so nice.

There are two other books I found that would be amazing to have but they’re a bit too expensive for me at the moment. Does anyone have them for sale for dirt cheap? :)

(Image from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pigeons-Doves-Guide-World/dp/1873403607/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306694817&sr=1-1)

(Image from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Feral-Pigeons-Richard-F-Johnston/dp/0195084098/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306695111&sr=1-1)


The following information is from a fantastic book about hand-rearing birds. It includes rearing guides for a variety of different species.

Hand-Rearing Birds

by Laurie J. Gage and Rebecca S. Duerr

2007, Blackwell Publishing

Chapter 20: Pigeons and Doves by Martha Kudlacik and Nancy Eilertsen

The number and variety of hand-feeding diets being used in rehabilitation and captive breeding are such that they cannot all be covered in a short chapter. The underlying principle is to mimic the natural diet as much as possible.

The first 2-3 days of life, columbids are fed crop milk, which is high in protein and fat. About day 3 or 4, small amounts of regurgitated seed are added to the milk; crop milk production ceases about day 7-9 and regurgitated seed is fed throughout the fledging period.

Table 20.1. Mourning Dove tube-feeding schedule (weights based on California population). Feed hatchling diet to chicks of weights in bold. Birds on the hatchling diet may not require as frequent feeding as is listed. Check the crop at the interval and feed when crop empties.

Weight (grams) Quantity (ml) Hours between Feeds
10 1 1
15 1.5-2 1-1.5
20 1.5-2.5 2
25 2-3 2
30 2.5-3.5 2
35 4 2
40 5 3
45 5 3
50 6 3
55 6 3
60 6-7 3

Above 65 grams, skip meal if any seed in crop

65 6-7 3-1/2

Newly admitted juvenile mourning doves over 70 grams will usually self-feed unless debilitated, emaciated, or otherwise compromised.

70 8 4
80 8 4

Above 90 grams, do not tube-feed unless bird is debilitated. Healthy juveniles will almost always self-feed at 90 grams.

90 9 3x/day
95 9-10 3x/day

Expected weight gains of hand-reared Mourning Doves and Rock Pigeons.


There is a lot of symbolism surrounding pigeons and doves. This blog post explains a lot: Doves and pigeons have inspired rich symbolism

Other sites also discuss symbolism: Dove symbolism, Birds and Pigeons and doves in religion, myths, mythology and folklores.

I find it fascinating that pigeons were first viewed as symbols of peace, innocence and purity in many cultures. People must have seen how devoted and loyal pigeons are to each other and their young and found that inspiring. It is funny that some consider the ‘white dove’ a different species to feral pigeons, and therefore cleaner and purer, when they are one and the same (see: Is there a difference between a dove and a pigeon?). We all know that views about animals change continuously, according to the current zeitgeist, and what is considered a pest in one country is a national treasure in another.

I guess it is nice though that at least the ‘white dove’ is still pure in people’s minds. We just have to slip the thought that “white dove = pigeon” and maybe they’ll view the feral pigeon more kindly.

There’s a book about birds in myths and I’m wondering if it has anything about pigeons in it. Has anyone read it? It’s called: Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend and Superstition by Peter Tate

I haven’t read the following book either but it looks interesting: The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany by Graeme Gibson. It is said to contain drawings, paintings and essays about how birds feature in mythology and religions, from early cave paintings through to works created in the twentieth century.


I have received the ultimate book on pigeon breeds!! I am so happy!! It is an amazing book filled with photos of all the different breeds of pigeons you can find in the world. It is a book I have been wanting to have ever since I laid eyes on it on the internet (being the book addict I am). A dear friend heard of my desire and bought it for me. I cannot thank her enough!!

The book, of course, is the “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Breeds” by Wendell M. Levi (1965)

It is very thick and heavy, not surprising since it consists of 790 pages! I will spend many a lazy evenings going through it, just looking at all the amazing, weird and wonderful pigeons displayed in it. What a treat!


A review of the book “Pigeons: The fascinating saga of the world’s most revered and reviled bird” by Andrew D. Blechman (2006).

I must admit I had high hopes for this book. I’ve read a lot of books in this style and have liked them, but this book let me down a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it had some good information and writing in it – touching on a wide range of pigeon related subjects, such as pigeon racing, pigeon fanciers, pigeon shooting and pigeon control, however, it didn’t quite hit the mark with me. Maybe it is because I’m so pigeon crazy that I couldn’t help notice the lack of emotion on the author’s part. Maybe I’m wrong in saying this, since I know that his involvement with this book and pigeons has turned him into a pigeon advocate – and I love that!! However, this book feels more about the people who love and hate pigeons, rather than about pigeons themselves – therefore the title of the book is a bit misleading.

I felt that there were a few things that could have been left out of this book – particularly the chapter in which the author tries to talk to Mike Tyson about pigeons. That was a useless chapter; more about celebrity chasing than about pigeons. And although I was horrified to read about squab farming and how they are killed (I think the image the author has pushed into my brain will stay with me forever. It brings tears to my eyes now thinking about how these helpless birds are killed) – I think it is necessary for readers to hear about the horrific practice of squab farming. However, I think it was very tasteless to add a recipe on pigeon pot pie at the end of the chapter.

The author got some good quotes from pigeon people, such as the one by Dr. Jean Hansell, “People just don’t make the connection between the dove of peace and the pigeon in the street.” How true is that?! If everyone simply realised that a dove and a pigeon are one and the same then maybe they’d not view feral pigeons as vermin and dirty. I thought it is interesting how some pigeon fanciers think feral pigeons give their fancy pigeons a bad name. Fancy pigeons came from ferals so where’s the logic in that?

Then one of the pigeon fanciers, a man nicknamed Dr. Pigeon, states that maybe pigeons don’t feel pain since pigeons often don’t act like they are in pain after being hurt. No offence, but that’s a ridiculous statement. Pigeons have to have a strong survival instinct because of all the dangers in the world and cannot show weakness when hurt, so they don’t make a fuss about it. A lot of animal species are like this. Just because they’re not wailing and crying out in pain doesn’t mean they don’t feel pain.

One breed of pigeon I hadn’t heard of before I read about them in this book was of Parlor Rollers. These pigeons are bred to somersault backwards on the ground. People compete to see which pigeon can roll the furthest and the longest. I’ve seen a few videos of this on the net and have taken an instant dislike for such practices. Why breed a pigeon that has a need to roll on the ground for no purpose whatsoever? What’s the attraction? On top of that, I think it is inhumane. Poor pigeons – humans have bred this trait in them to the extreme. They don’t have much choice in the matter.

One good thing about this book is how he highlights the cruelty and uselessness of pigeon shooting. You can really see the ignorance and small-mindedness of the people who consider pigeon shooting as sport. I will never understand how the minds of these people work. How can someone consider shooting an animal as a victory?

As well as writing about pigeon shooting, the author writes extensively about pigeon pest control and the ineffective and inhumane methods pest control companies use. He talks to two prominent people who fight against these methods and promote humane and realistic methods of pigeon control. One such person, Dave Roth, who runs the Urban Wildlife Society, says something (talking about his loving relationship with one of his pigeons) that I wholly agree with: “If everybody could experience this kind of relationship with a bird, then we wouldn’t have all the problems we have today with the pigeon haters.” This is exactly how I feel about my pigeons.

Another pigeon advocate is Guy Merchant, the founder of the Pigeon Control Advisory Service (PiCAS). He states, “We are the only independent source of unbiased information out there. By comparison, the pest control industries are only motivated by greed. They invest millions of dollars each year on anti-pigeon propaganda and misinformation. It’s entirely unethical. In fact, there are no ethics involved at all. Believe you me, the world hates pigeons because of them.”

On the subject of pigeons and disease, Dr. Nina Marano (an epidemiologist) states that “Pigeons are no more filthy than any other wild bird or animal,” while Dr. Arturo Casadevall (an expert in pigeon faeces) states, “Pigeons are no different than other animals. When it comes to spreading disease, they don’t stand out.” Good solid statements that they can back up since they are the experts. Hooray!

The author writes about the dangers of over-feeding pigeons, how we can do more harm than good. I do agree. By supplying huge amounts of food we are helping pigeons breed in vast numbers that attract unwanted attention. That’s when pest control companies are called out. Good intentions can also be the problem.

I’m not sure I can describe why I am disappointed with this book, it could be because of the horrible things people do to pigeons that he’s written about. It’s left me feeling sad and maybe that has tainted my feelings about the book. If I am to be objective then this book has a good array of information of the positive things about pigeons and the negative side of humans, however, reading it may leave you a bit depressed if you are against animal-abuse and exploitation because the author has written about these more than anything else. Maybe a bit more about pigeon loving should be in the book.

Ps. Some might view this post as an attack on pigeon shooters, fanciers, etc., and I admit it is (although a much restrained attack). These are my views and many pigeon people might not like them but my interests in pigeons have nothing to do with how fast they can fly, how ‘pretty’ they look, how long they can roll or how good they might taste. I love pigeons simply because I have the good fortune to know that they are unique in character, have wonderful personalities and have a rich and diverse social life. They are unique beings and should be loved for just being themselves – not how much money they can make us.

Note: All quotes in this post are from the book: Pigeons: The fascinating saga of the world’s most revered and reviled bird, by Andrew D. Blechman, 2006.