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As many of you know, we feed the feral pigeons in our garden. At one point we had rather a large flock visiting us, and it seemed that the numbers were growing quickly, so we had to stop feeding them so much and as often as we did to prevent the neighbours from complaining about the pigeons.

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Visiting feral pigeons

Richard wrote about our growing pigeon flock in 2010: Pigeon Flock! In 2011 I posted my thoughts on the subject of feeding feral pigeons: To feed or not to feed…? Since pigeons can breed all year round, feeding them regularily can lead to a population explosion and that’s when some people may complain about the numbers. This website has some very good information and points of view: Feeding the pigeons

I now only throw out a few handfuls of pigeon seed in the morning, letting the pigeons go elsewhere to search for food the rest of the day. We have a small flock that flies by in the morning, sometimes with a new fledged youngster in tow, but the numbers haven’t grown much since I don’t increase the handfuls of food. I’ve seen the same pairs of pigeons for the past two years visiting us (they have distinctive feather markings/colours) and on the whole the flock looks healthy and strong. We also have squirrels and foxes visiting but I’m not sure if the badgers come to our garden anymore.

Now, for the main bit of news: We have a large bush full of red berries in our garden by our bedroom window (I’m not good with plant identification so I don’t know what type of plant it is). For the past few weekend mornings we’ve heard something on the windowsill and what sounds like a lot of flapping on the bush. What’s going on? We’ve never heard these noises before. … But the cooing gave the game away! :) There’s pigeons on the windowsill and bush!

Woodpigeons are known to feed on berries but I’ve never seen feral pigeons do so, and yes, the berry stealers are feral pigeons! Of course, when we open the curtains the pigeons fly away, so it’s been hard to take a photo of the spectacle. But I was lucky today – the pigeons raided the bush later in the day, so I managed to take this photo of one clinger:

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Feral pigeon on berry bush

Isn’t s/he a beauty?! :)

The window sticker is there to prevent birds from flying into our many windows (I first wrote about it in 2010: Window strikes). Overall, they seem to work, although a few pigeons have glanced the windows since, but no head-on collisions, which is a relief.

For different sticker designs please have a look at these websites:


Last night Georgie was very naughty. She kept attacking me while I was trying to watch a movie. … Maybe she was bored with the movie – didn’t like the actors or the story and was trying to get me to change channel? Maybe she was overtired and wanted to go to bed? Whatever the reason she was really getting me annoyed – and bruised since she insisted on standing on my shoulder – and then pecking at my face and neck!

I had to talk softly and sweetly to her – little coos and soft kisses to her head – but nothing could make her stop pecking me. I kept removing George from my shoulder and putting her on the sofa but she just kept climbing back onto me. She wanted to fall asleep on my shoulder, but was not happy when I made a movement. In the end I had to be put her in her cage to calm down and go to sleep – which she did.

Georgie has her bedtime and if she’s out past that time she gets very grumpy – a fact that I sometimes forget – hence the red marks on my neck!

Today Georgie spent a good hour snuggled on my lap – all memory of last nights events forgotten.

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I only got this photo because her eyes were closed when the camera light went on.

Elmo has also been snuggling up to his loved one today:

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I watched a wood pigeon land on the water dish in the garden – a big fat woody all intent on having a drink – when along came a little fiesty feral pigeon. The feral hopped onto the water dish and pushed the wood pigeon off! What a little cheeky sod! :) After the feral had his fill and had flown off, the woody came back for his drink.

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Now that we’ve stopped throwing copious amounts of food into the garden we don’t have 50 pigeons sitting on the neighbours roof all day anymore. We still have feral pigeons visiting our garden (we throw seed and peanuts out sporadically) – and we recognise many returning ones – so we know that the pigeons are doing alright without our steady supply of food. We believe it is better that pigeons (well, all wildlife really) don’t become reliant on humans as their sole food source. They need to be able to find food elsewhere, otherwise what would happen if we moved house?

A few weeks ago a small clump of white mushrooms appeared – which proceeded to grow and grow – until they eventually disappeared. We had Elmo out in the garden one day and he didn’t like the look of the mushrooms. Not to his taste at all and he quickly retreated back to the front door – the days adventure over! What a scaredy-cat!! :)

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And today I saw our little fox cub – now all grown up – appear for a sniff and a scavenge in our garden. What a handsome lad he is now (could be a girl – but I haven’t checked)!

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Remember the pigeon lady in Home Alone 2? The movie at first depicts her as this scary lady (almost witch-like) that attracts hundreds of pigeons to her. We later find out that she’s a nice lady who’s life had fallen apart and who is homeless. She feeds and cares for the pigeons in the park in a way to help deal with her life situation.

I think many of us can agree that taking care of pigeons is a very loving activity – the friendship and affection received from the pigeons that choose to befriend you is a huge blessing. It is addictive. Pigeons are soft and plump – great for cuddling! They have a wonderful voice – cooing in all tones and tunes – and they come in such pretty colours and patterns. Having twenty odd pigeons at your feet and on your lap and shoulders, eating seed, is a lovely experience. Once they trust you and choose to become your friend, they’ll recognise you from afar and welcome you home for a treat!

And this is why so many men and women around the world take the time to feed feral pigeons. They have discovered this simple pleasure. They have recognised the loyalty and friendship that pigeons can have for a human being – all because they have extended a helping hand in giving them some food. Many of these pigeon feeders get into trouble because of the laws of the city/town that prohibits the feeding of pigeons. Many get hassle from other people who call the pigeons “dirty”, “disgusting” and “diseased” and demand that the person stop feeding them. But none of this will stop a pigeon feeder because they love their pigeons and realise what a rotten deal pigeons get from the public and officials who hate or dislike them.

People like to call these pigeon men and woman “crazy” – but why? Just because they feed pigeons? Because they love pigeons? Insane.

I remember when I first saw the pigeon lady in Home Alone 2 when I was a child. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, all those pigeons around her! I wanted to experience that! I remember running to the local park with bread in my hand, trying to attract the pigeons to me. Sadly, none flew onto me but I did get a good group of pigeons, ducks and some gulls around me – eagerly gobbling up the meager bread I provided.

Anyway, back to pigeon people: Many months ago I read a few articles and saw some photos of two pigeon men that stuck in my mind.

The first is about Pierre Pradeau, a retired man, who fed the pigeons at Notre Dame. He sadly passed away on the 13th December in 2009. Many people have photographed him and his pigeons and here are some of those wonderful photos: Pigeon Man of Notre Dame and L’homme aux pigeons.

Another man, less photographed, is Joseph Zeman, who sadly died on the 18th December in 2007. He was a known figure in Chicago – called “the pigeon man of Lincoln Square” – who quietly went about his business of feeding the pigeons. Here are some articles about him:

Reflections of an accidental pigeon fancier on the death of `Pigeon Man’

Joseph Zeman killed by negligent driver

Goodbye, Pigeon Man

Sad news today: Joseph Zeman, the “pigeon man of Lincoln Square,” was killed yesterday when he was struck by a car on the Far North Side. The driver was a 68-year-old who didn’t see Zeman as he made a right leaving a parking lot.

The 77-year-old was easy to spot at the corner of Lawrence and Western, where he would sit for hours on a fire hydrant, feeding a large group of pigeons that would crowd around him and perch all over his body. Zeman was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston at 3:21 p.m, and he was found with a laminated copy of the article the Trib did on him in 2004.

An epileptic who was treated poorly as a child by his family, Zeman learned early on “not to say nothing, keep to myself, just so I can’t be wrong anymore.” He first formed a relationship with the pigeons during the 47 years he ran a newsstand at the corner of LaSalle and Division. He would feed them, and over time, the pigeons came to trust him. He moved up to the hydrant in 1997 when he sold the newsstand.

However you feel about pigeons, it’s hard not to be moved by Zeman’s philosophy, which he shared in his Trib profile: “I’m really advertising to the public how easy it is to be good without an attitude; it’s just as easy to show decency as it is to hate today.”

“Pigeon Man” via jdlinkvision.

By Jocelyn Geboy in on December 19, 2007 3:16 PM

http://chicagoist.com/2007/12/19/any_way_you_cut.php