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It is not often that you see a pigeon of this colour:

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This poor roller pigeon was found in a garden and brought to my work (a veterinary practice) for assessment. As soon as I saw him I could see that he was very thin and needed care. We placed him in a warm cage with food and water, and left him to settle. The pigeon perked up after a while but was too weak to be interested in the food and water. I dipped his beak in the water to tempt him and he took the most pitiful little sip. My heart was breaking. I willed him to stay strong and survive his ordeal.

After examining him I found him to be in sound condition, no breaks or injuries, but simply extremely thin as if he had been lost for a while and unable to find any food (I’m not a vet, by the way, but I have worked with wildlife casualties, especially birds). It is a miracle that this pigeon wasn’t caught by a predator – his colouration making him an easy target (but I guess that some predator species do not see the same colours we do). The heat pad did its magic and the pigeon started eating a bit and looked livelier, however, it will take some time for him to regain his health and have strength to fly.

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The unusual thing is that this pigeon doesn’t have a metal identification ring on, only a plastic ring (ok, the second most unusal thing about him after being pink). I assumed that all fancy pigeons were ringed after they hatched so that their owners or breeders could identify them. So finding the owner of this pigeon will be impossible as the plastic ring hasn’t got any identification numbers on it.

I did manage to speak to someone at a roller pigeon club and they told me that roller pigeons are sometimes dyed different colours so that the owners can tell them apart when they are flying and doing their acrobatics. So that explains the pink dye.

We will have to find this pigeon a new home since he’s not a feral pigeon and won’t survive out in the wild. I shall keep you updated once I have more news on his progress.

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Previous posts about painted pigeons: Painted pigeons – is it right?, Pretty in pink?, and Promoting feral pigeons – by painting them?

26th June UPDATE:

“Pink” pigeon has gone to Blyth Wildlife Rescue for long-term care and rehabilitation. He is now in an aviary with other pigeons, settling in well, although looking the odd one out. :) We are grateful for everyone at Blyth Wildlife Rescue for taking him. Please visit their website and Facebook page to support them.


After posting Pretty in pink? Glen Bass brought to my attention that someone is dyeing pigeons in Venice, Italy, as part of a project to increase public appreciation of pigeons. I looked into this and found the below article about it.

Photos from: http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/10/view/23293/colorful-pigeons-amongst-a-flock-of-grey-at-the-venice-biennale.html

As well as it happening in Italy, they also painted pigeons in Copenhagen, Denmark. Please see Julian Charriere’s pigeon project: Some pigeons are more equal than others

This website also has lots of photos of the dyed pigeons (thank you, Glen, for bringing this to my attention!): Colorful pigeons amongst a flock of grey at the Venice Biennale

Photos from: http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/10/view/23293/colorful-pigeons-amongst-a-flock-of-grey-at-the-venice-biennale.html

Questions are asked whether this is animal cruelty or not. And does the pink pigeon found in London mean that someone has started a similar project here in the UK?

Painted pigeons of St Mark’s square put Venice Biennale critics in a flap

Project to airbrush famous pigeons in garish, vibrant colours for architecture exhibition criticised by animal rights campaigners

  • John Hooper in Rome – guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 August 2012
Painted pigeons in Venice

Swiss artist Julian Charrière says by painting the pigeons of St Mark’s square, Venice, they will become ‘better regarded’. Photograph: Rex Features

As might be expected of the world’s most filmed, photographed and conspicuously indulged birds, the pigeons of St Mark’s square in Venice are capricious. If it takes their fancy, they will foul the top of your head, dig their claws into your scalp and mob the very tourists who feed them. But one thing that could be relied upon was that the pigeons of Venice were grey. Until now.In recent days, visitors to the city have been surprised to see pigeons sporting plumages that would do credit to a tropical parrot: green and yellow pigeons; pigeons whose feathers radiate electric blue or strident vermillion; even pigeons that seem to be robed in imperial purple.

Finding and filming them became a local pastime when it was revealed on Monday the coloured birds were the work of artists – the Swiss artist, Julian Charrière, and German artist, Julius von Bismarck – part of a performance for the architecture Biennale.

But while many tourists and locals were intrigued, questions were soon being raised about the ethics of the project. “Are works of art justified as such even when they involve other, non-consenting living beings?”, asked Miriam Leto on the www.artsblog.it website. It was not long before an answer was offered by another blogger on www.ecoblog.it.

“There is nothing to laugh about.” wrote “Marina”. “On the contrary, an initiative with so little respect for defenceless animals is to be condemned.”

The daily Corriere della Sera quoted Charrière as saying the project was “without any danger to the animals”. He said his aim was to give a recognisable personality to birds that were routinely harassed and reviled. “That way, pigeons will be better regarded.”

Animal defence activists are unlikely, however, to be comforted by the artist’s description on his website of the process used in a similar exercise in Copenhagen. That involved a “bird trap with a conveyor belt mechanism” where the “pigeon get [sic] automatically airbrushed in different colours. The machine was installed for a week on a roof in Copenhagen.”

The coloured pigeons are the latest in a series used in Biennales that has prompted controversy. At last year’s art Biennale, the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan exhibited a flock – in original hues – which had been embalmed.

Article from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/aug/27/venice-biennale-painted-pigeons-st-marks

Thought I’d share this article that was brought to my attention. I think the answer really is that the pigeon was deliberately dyed. Reading what the experts have to say on the subject, however, made me smile (especially when a man from the RSPB confirms that it is a pigeon. LOL). :) (I wrote about dyeing pigeons: Painted pigeons – is it right?)

The pigeon that’s in the pink!
Bizarre bird baffles experts with its brightly coloured feathers

  • Cause of bird’s strange colouring remains a mystery
  • Could have been dyed deliberately or changed due to its diet

By Sam Adams

PUBLISHED: 12:31, 10 August 2012 | UPDATED: 12:55, 10 August 2012

Is this pink pigeon a punk, or just pretending to be a flamingo?

They may be seen as pests by some, but this bizarre-looking pigeon has been earning admirers since it was first spotted in Ealing, west London.

The brightly-coloured bird, seemingly a white pigeon with large blotches of luminous pink on its feathers, has nevertheless left experts mystified.

'Punk pigeon': Experts are not sure what caused the bird's pink colouring
‘Punk pigeon’: Experts are not sure what caused the bird’s pink colouring
Odd one out: The pigeon certainly stands out from the other birds
Odd one out: The pigeon certainly stands out from the other birds
Colourful sight: The exotic-looking pigeon's appearance has been welcomed in Ealing
Colourful sight: The exotic-looking pigeon’s appearance has been welcomed in Ealing

Jean Moles, of Pitshanger Lane, Ealing, thought she was seeing things when she first laid eyes on the colourful bird perching on her neighbour’s roof last Saturday.

She said: ‘It sits on the flat roof next to my window. It’s pink with white streaks and a grey head. I’ve never seen one in my 74 years.

‘The Frenchman next door took a picture of it, he said he’d never seen anything like it either.

‘I feed the pigeons, I don’t care if the council don’t like it. This one appeared and it just fascinated me.’

An extremely rare species of pink pigeon – nesoenas mayeri – does exist but is native to Mauritius, thousands of miles away in the Indian Ocean. The telltale difference is its grey wings, absent in this bird.

Questions: It is not clear whether the pigeon was deliberately daubed in pink or whether its feathers were coloured accidently
Questions: It is not clear whether the pigeon was deliberately daubed in pink or whether its feathers were coloured accidently
Discovery: Jean Moles spotted the pink pigeon while feeding birds near her home in Ealing, west London
Discovery: Jean Moles spotted the pink pigeon while feeding birds near her home in Ealing, west London

Bird expert Tim Webb from the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) confirms that it is a pigeon, but cannot be certain why or where the bird picked up its wild plumage.

Regularly eating foods with high levels of beta carotene and canthaxanthin – harmless natural food pigments – could change the colour of its feathers, he said.

Pink flamingoes get their colour from feeding on shrimp.

Alternatively, it could have been dyed deliberately by a bird keeper or accidentally splashed in a puddle of stained water.

A research group in Wormwood Scrubs recently dyed ring-necked parakeets purple to track their movements.

Mr Webb added: ‘Either way it’s a colourful addition to London’s wildlife – a punk pigeon to add to the records of the capital’s bizarre and unexpected category of natural attractions.’

On Saturday I wrote about pigeons being painted multi-coloured in Spain as part of a competition/game.


What Georgie would look like pink!

It reminded me of something Richard and I were working on a while ago (and which was regrettably put on the back shelf for a long time).

We’ve been wanting some artwork of Elmo and George and I thought it would be nice to have a portrait of Georgie in a pseudo Andy Warhol pop art style painting. On the right is one of the portraits we designed. I think she looks rather pretty in pink! :D

We’re thinking of having the picture printed on canvas (with maybe four or six portraits of Georgie in different colours). At the moment though our little project is on the back burner as we’re kept preoccupied with other matters, though hopefully soon I’ll be able to post the completed picture.

Ps. We think this should be the only way to paint a pigeon! :)

A while back I came across a photo of a flock of pigeons that were multi-coloured – painted vibrant reds, greens, pinks and purples. It was a beautiful photo. It struck me as something fanciful and playful. The photo didn’t have a caption so I didn’t know who or why the pigeons were dyed as they were and I soon forgot about it.

A few days ago I came across another photo of painted pigeons and my curiosity was awakened. I needed to find out the story behind the photos so I googled ‘painted pigeons’ and ‘coloured pigeons’ to see what would pop up.

To my disappointment only a few photos appeared with little to no information, however, after careful searching through the internet I managed to find a link to a website that explained the photos. Finally!

But first I had found a site with photos of coloured racing pigeons from the Murcia region of Spain: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-15248305/stock-photo-coloured-racing-pigeons-from-the-murcia-region-of-spain.html

As well as these photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/staffy/3345022740/in/set-72157604833950737/

After more googling I found this one:

Image from: http://oreneta.com/kalebeul/

Two people had commented on the photo explaining everything, with a link to the following website: http://www.cichlidlovers.com/birds_pica.htm

So basically the Picas (Spanish Modern Thief Pouters, Palomas Deportiva) are flown in a competition – the cock pigeons chasing a hen. The cock pigeons are painted so that the judges can identify which pigeon is whose and score them according to how close a cock pigeon gets to the hen and impresses it with its courting abilities. The one that gets the most points wins. (To read more on this go to: http://www.cichlidlovers.com/birds_pica2.htm)

While I find the painted pigeons very beautiful it was quickly pointed out to me (by my lovely husband) that it must not be a nice experience for the pigeons. Most pigeons don’t like to be held and have their wings and feathers manipulated for any length of time (even Georgie, who’s extremely tame, doesn’t like it) so I can imagine that the painted pigeons must experience discomfort and distress from being painted.

And then to tease the cock pigeons by depriving them of hens and finally release them to chase a single hen pigeon for hours (even days in some cases)! I have to admit that I feel very sorry for both the cock pigeons and the hen. It’s not really fair for them. Why should they be treated in such a way just to satisfy human beings desire to ‘compete’ and win money?

Some people might think that I’m being overly judgemental and idealistic, however, I don’t like animals being used for human gain unnecessarily – especially for so called ‘sport’. I believe that animals should be admired and respected and seen for what they truly are – incredible beings that can feel and experience life in ways we do not.