Matilda's List - An international list and directory of pigeon friendly veterinarians and rehabbers.
MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue - A division of Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue dedicated to the rescue of doves and pigeons in the San Francisco Bay area.
People for the Preservation of Pigeons - A blog that supports pro-pigeonism, strives to eliminate pigeon persecution and prejudice, and promotes the positive portrayal of pigeons in society.
Pigeon & Pet Chat - A forum where members can discuss all things about pigeons; whether they are pet pigeons, wild pigeons, fancy or homing pigeons.
Pigeon Aid UK - A site that provides advice for those who have picked up a sick, injured or baby pigeon and need guidance.
Pigeon and Dove Rescue - A website aimed at providing help for anyone that has rescued a pigeon or dove by providing details of pigeon friendly rescue centres, vets and guidance on how to care for orphaned, sick or injured pigeons.
Pigeon Angels - A forum dedicated to the support & care of all pigeons, feral or fancy, that find themselves in jeopardy.
Pigeon Blog - A bona fide urban pigeon telling it how it is for the pigeons of London.
Pigeon Control Advisory Service (PiCAS) - PiCAS specialises in the provision of non-lethal, holistic and sustainable bird control systems, which will result in a permanent reduction in bird numbers.
Pigeon Control Resource Centre (PCRC) - An online resource for anyone with a pigeon-related problem. All information and advice provided on the website is geared towards completely solving pigeon control problems by the use of humane and non-lethal control methods.
Pigeon Protection - Website aiming to provide accurate information about pigeons and pigeon control in all its forms and to prevent pigeons from suffering and dying as a result of human actions based on misinformation.
Pigeon Tales - Interesting blog following the lives of a family of feral pigeons living with the author.
Pigeon-Talk - A global forum open to all pigeon lovers.
Rescue Report - Wonderful blog about fostering and adopting pigeons (from MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue).
Urban Wildlife Society - Their mission is to promote appreciation for all animals, particularly pigeons, that share the city and suburbs with humans. The website is filled with information and articles about inhumane pest control and offers advice on alternative measures.
Wild Bird Fund - Website for the non-profit organization that provides assistance for wild birds, including feral pigeons, in New York City.
Pet pigeons - what we mean Explaining what we mean when we talk about keeping pigeons as pets. In brief: We mean keeping tame, imprinted or disabled pigeons that would not otherwise survive in the wild.
All the above organisations, websites and centres can help you with your query if ever you come across an injured, ill or orphaned pigeon. The best thing to do is to rescue the pigeon, keep it safe and warm, and immediately contact your nearest pigeon-friendly rescue centre or organisation who can take the bird from you to give it the medical care it needs.
Editors note: I am also able to give advice, however, please don’t rely on me in an emergency as I may not be online every day. Thank 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)
Some of you here in the United Kingdom might have seen the fourth episode of Winterwatch on BBC Two last week where Adam Rogers, the creator of The Feral Pigeon Project, spoke to Chris Packham about feral pigeons and their colour diversity. This episode was greatly anticipated by many pigeon people (word spread on the net) and it was wonderful to hear a positive message about feral pigeons – since there are so few programmes on TV that concentrate on these amazing birds.
As mentioned, the message on this episode of Winterwatch was positive, concentrating on the intelligence and uniqueness of pigeons, and I hope many people feel inspired to help Adam Rogers with his research into pigeon colour diversity. Please visit his website for further information: The Feral Pigeon Project
A little side note here: many of us watching the programme immediately noticed the feet of the ferals and wanted to help. A common question appeared online as to why the ferals feet were deformed, which Adam quickly replied (on his blog): Deformed feet – what is the cause?
I really hope more positive messages of pigeons get on TV and we can start to dispel the myths spread about pigeons. Maybe Elmo and Georgie should go on “Britain’s Strangest Pets” or something similar? (Although I don’t like the way those types of programmes portray the owners, so maybe something more scientific would be better.)
A zoology student from Cornwall has appeared on BBC Winterwatch to talk about his project to record the national pigeon population.
Adam Rogers, who studies at the University of Exeter’s Tremough Campus in Penryn, appeared on the programme leading a project to investigate plumage trends found in the once-domesticated birds.
When domestic animals return to the wild and breed, future generations usually take on their natural dull colour, yet urban pigeons have retained their brightness and variety of plumage.
The 29-year-old undergraduate wants as many people as possible to spend a few minutes counting the number of pigeons with different plumage patterns in their local high street.
Participants can then report their sightings on the Feral Pigeon Project website, which also contains a handy guide to pigeon colours.
“Pigeons can easily be overlooked as we go about our daily lives,” said Mr Rogers. ”Yet these seemingly familiar birds have many secrets still to reveal. The fact that they have been successful is clear, yet the means behind their success is less understood.
“No other creature causes such contention as the wild pigeon – some people call pigeons ‘rats with wings’, others are simply indifferent, but I call them the Super Dove.
“They may not be as glamorous as many of the exotic animals a person could choose to study but take the time to look beneath the feathers and they’re just as superbly adapted as any of the African big five.”
He added that people don’t need to be pigeon experts to get involved in the project, as the various types are easy to tell apart.
Adam is hoping that his research will reveal how pigeons are adapting to human influences, as well as sparking people’s interest in wildlife and nature. He will examine aspects such as whether breeding habits are changing in towns where feeding bans have been imposed.
The Feral Pigeon Project appeared on BBC Two’s Winterwatch yesterday with a focus on the pigeons’ ability to breed in the middle of winter. Adam described working with the BBC production team as “eye-opening”.
“Filming with Chris Packham was a fantastic experience, he’s clearly a very knowledgeable naturalist and is truly passionate about opening people’s eyes to the wildlife around them,” he said.
When it snows many of us pigeon people like to make sure that the feral flocks have enough food to ensure they survive the cold weather.
I do this whenever there is snow and every time the pigeons treat my snowy garden with suspicion. They know what my garden looks like normally, so this change of scenery makes them wary. Last time it snowed I thought it would be better to put the seed on a tray on the snow for the feral pigeons, but the pigeons were suspicious of the tray and wouldn’t fly down. So I had to stomp the snow down to make a flat surface and put the seed on the cold ground.
This year I cleared a small spot in the snow and put the seed on the grassy patch. Did the pigeons come down to eat? Did they?! … No, they stared down at the food and simply waited. Finally, one pigeon flew down and circled the patch in the snow for about 5 minutes, then flew back up to the roof to join his friends, leaving the seed untouched.
Grassy patch in garden
Suspicious ferals on the roof
Short of actually clearing all the snow away from my garden, there’s not much I can do to entice the ferals down. It’s their choice, and when they get hungry enough, they’ll fly down for sure. Thankfully the snowy weather doesn’t last very long here.
An hour later and the seed is still untouched by the pigeons, although a little robin has helped himself. Maybe our snow-woman, Gladys, is scaring the pigeons away?
Carrying on from my last post about the feral pigeons in my garden, I noticed a larger and suspiciously “noble” looking pigeon amongst the flock. Upon closer inspection I saw that the pigeon has a white ring around its leg. This threw me a bit since I’ve never seen a checkered racing pigeon before, only blue bars, although I know racing pigeons can come in a variety of colours.
Checkered racing pigeon
The racing pigeon looks healthy and strong (and very beautiful!), with no signs of any problems with his flight and I can only speculate that he became lost during a race and decided to team up with the feral pigeons for safety, companionship and intel on the good food locations. I don’t know how long he’ll stay with the feral pigeons before deciding to return to his home. He may never return if he falls in love with a feral.
Racing pigeons generally do well in the wild if they join a feral pigeon flock, unlike fancy pigeons that may have some unusual feather shapes that make it hard for them to fly away from predators quickly (please read my post about the welfare of fancy pigeons). This is one reason why you should never release a fancy pigeon into the wild. Racing pigeons, however, are bred to fly fast and strong, and I’ve seen racing pigeons stick with feral pigeons so I believe that they are capable of surviving in the wild. Maybe their genetic contribution to the feral population helps with the overall genetic health of wild pigeons? I have seen feral pigeons that look like they have racing blood in them (it’s often the shape of the head and beak that gives them away: very “Roman nose”).
I wonder: If I go out into the garden and hold some food in my hand, would the racer fly down to me?
Can you spot the racer?
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology were conducting research into feral pigeon behaviour and colour distinctions/morphs, however, they have now discontinued it. I don’t know what the results of their research is, but I’d be very interested to know. However, this website has taken up the challenge of finding more about pigeon colour variation: Feral Pigeon Project
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.
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:
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:
Many of you may already know that I work at a wildlife rescue centre, and as a result, I have cared for many injured and orphaned pigeons (in fact, woodpigeons are the second most common animal we have brought in – over 410 this year! – hedgehogs being the first). My love of pigeons was sparked from hand-rearing the orphaned feral pigeons, and both Elmo and Georgie were first taken to my work before we welcomed them into our home. So while I’ve helped rear and rehabilitate hundreds of pigeons, I don’t often find ones that need rescuing.
In the past few months, however, I’ve found two feral pigeons that needed rescuing. One was walking slowly across a road in town and the short steps it was taking caught my attention. I could see that something was wrong, and as I approached the pigeon it didn’t have the strength to fly away. I picked it up and took it immediately to work. The poor pigeon was painfully thin and sadly died the same day. I had found it when it was at the end of its life. It is always sad when a rescued animal dies, however, at least the pigeon was in a safe and warm environment in its last hours.
The second feral pigeon I found was standing one morning by my car as I was preparing to leave for work. It didn’t fly away when I approached it and was clearly in need of rescuing. Once at work, I could see that the feral was thin and had a puncture wound by his right wing. He’s in a warm cage and receiving the medication he needs, and hopefully, in a few weeks, he’ll recover and be released. Fingers crossed.
We nipped over to Aarhus, Denmark, for a long weekend to meet some friends and as usual my pigeon-seeking eyes were on alert. I saw lots of woodpigeons in the city but only a few feral pigeons. I didn’t have my camera with me so unfortunately I haven’t got any photos to show you.
I was surprised to see so many woodpigeons in the city centre since I never see them in those locations in the UK, only in parks and woodland. There are quite a few parks and trees on the streets in Aarhus so maybe that’s why the woodies were in the centre too. And I was very surprised not to see many feral pigeons. Where were they hiding? I have a little theory: Aarhus is very clean, not a lot of litter on the ground, so not many scraps for feral pigeons to eat.
We didn’t take our two pigeons with us. I’m afraid we had to leave Elmo and Georgie at home, however, they invited a few pigeon-sitters over to keep them company.
Since we returned late at night and darling Elmo was too tired to give us his full “happy-to-see-you” dance routine, he couldn’t contain his joy in seeing us in the morning and leaped onto the bed to wake us up! What a silly boy!
The people at the Wild Bird Fund, a non-profit organisation, in New York City do a lot to help feral pigeons and other wildlife in and around the area. It is wonderful to see vets and rehabbers work so skillfully with pigeons. It can be hard to find a vet that knows how to fix broken bones in a bird, and tragically, a lot of pigeons are euthanised because of a broken wing or leg simply because the skills and knowledge – and sometimes other resources (e.g. space and time) – are not there. (And pigeon sanctuaries are hard to come by.)
Please consider donating towards their cause to built a wildlife rehabilitation centre in New York City: Wild Bird Fund
It has been a fabulous week of sun and clear skies. After so many weeks of rain and mud it’s a welcome break.
I took the pigeons out on Friday for their first real time out in the garden this year. They each had a turn in the pen in the sun. We cannot trust Elmo nor Georgie out in the garden without some form of protection. Georgie, being mostly blind and unable to fly properly (she usually ends up flying backwards), has a habit of taking off suddenly if spooked – which is what can happen in the garden with the strange environment and sounds. Elmo, being an ex-PMV sufferer, cannot fly properly either. He hasn’t got the flight muscles nor coordination, however, he can fly up quite high for short bursts if frightened and potentially end up in an undesirable place (e.g. over the hedge onto the railway track that’s on the other side of our garden). We therefore have two options when taking Elmo and Georgie outside: 1) put them in the enclosed wired pen, or 2) put a flight harness on them.
When we first got Elmo we used to take him out without a harness or putting him in a pen. We thought that since he could see and was unable to fly properly, he wouldn’t get himself into trouble. We soon learnt how stupid we were and how dangerous the situation really was (read: Fly, birdie, fly!).
What used to happen with Elmo is that he’d spend some time with us in the garden. He’d be pecking at the dirt and grass – as happy as Larry – then suddenly he’d decide he’d had enough and walk over the pebble path back to the front door round the corner of the building. He’d wait there until Richard let him into the flat (which would be fairly quickly since we didn’t like him being out of our view). On one occassion Richard and I were in the garden, lying on the grass, when all of a sudden a little Jack Russell terrier appeared by our heads. It was our uncle’s dog, Minnie. Luckily, we had already put the pigeons back in the flat so there was no danger, however, it really sunk into my mind that had Elmo been free in the garden at that moment, Minnie would have attacked him in a heartbeat. And what if Elmo had gone to the front door at that moment, out of our view when Minnie came over? It’s too horrible to think about. We immediately stopped letting Elmo roam free in the garden and got the pen and harness for our pigeons.
Yesterday Georgie had a refreshing bath after her time in the sun, however, Elmo wasn’t interested in the water.
Georgie in the sun
Georgie falling asleep
When I placed Elmo in the pen he shook like a leaf – he was very excited and I think a little scared of the new environment. I had to bob my head to divert his attention, which worked, because then Elmo calmed down and started pecking at the grass and enjoying the direct sunshine.
Elmo in the pen
A single feral pigeon came down to look for seed on the ground and Elmo was quite curious. He stared intently at the pigeon until the pigeon noticed him, and then the feral stared back. Funny.