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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?

Here’s the link to the episode: Winterwatch, Series 1, Episode 4. The feral pigeon part starts at 08:43 (ending at 17:01). I also found the clip on YouTube:

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.)

Online article about the Winterwatch episode:

Cornwall student appears on BBC Winterwatch to promote pigeon project

Friday, January 18, 2013

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.

Adam Rogers is leading a project on pigeons

(Article from: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Cornwall-student-appears-BBC-Winterwatch-promote/story-17894221-detail/story.html)

I have to have a little quasi-rant now about how feral pigeons are portrayed in sitcoms and cartoons. Three come to mind:

  • Frasier – Season 11, Episode 12 – “Frasier-Lite”
  • The Simpsons – Season 22, Episode 7 – “How Munched is That Birdie in the Window”
  • Outnumbered – Season 3, Episode 4 – “The Pigeon”


My rant will reveal what happens in the above episodes.

First off, why do writers feel the need to continue the ignorant and untrue potrayal of pigeons as “flying rats”? It’s starting to get really old. Seriously writers. Do your research!

In each of the above episodes the characters refer to the pigeon as being “diseased”, “unclean”or “flying rats”. (On the plus side, though, the characters try to help the bird.)

Secondly, why do the writers feel the need to kill the pigeons?

In each of the above episodes the pigeon dies. Is it funny? No. Is it necessary? I don’t think so. But I guess the writers thought that the story couldn’t develop or wasn’t interesting enough unless they kill the pigeon off.

Is it too much to ask to see a feral pigeon in a sitcom or cartoon (or movie!) being rescued, cared for and then released?! What’s wrong with that story line? Is that boring?

Every time I see a feral pigeon in a programme I think, “Oh no, what are they going to do with that pigeon?” I know that it won’t have a good outcome, but I still hold out the hope that it will. Maybe one day attitudes will change and we will see some nice story lines about pigeons.

I haven’t been very organised this week (short-staffed at work has made me very tired) so I didn’t get the Christmas posts sorted, so forgive me for the videos – all with a Christmas theme though:

And of course, Two Turtle Doves:

The pigeons in Bolt are funny:

Some more pigeons working in the TV industry. I think the first advert is very funny.

The following adverts aren’t very nice:

I remember seeing a stupid Ford Ka advert a while back that featured a pigeon in it. The advert got banned, for obvious reasons, but it got me thinking what other pigeon adverts there are out there. Here’s some I found:

I actually find the next one quite funny. Not sure I should though. :)

And here’s that banned Ford Ka advert (thought I’d better post it since I mentioned it):

A couple of old cartoons with pigeons in them.

I used to watch Sesame Street when I was young, however, I don’t remember that Bert had a pet pigeon. How did I miss that?!

So Bert’s pet pigeon is called Bernice. Here are a few videos of her (or should I say “them” since Bernice seems to have changed colour!):

Bert also created a dance called “Doin’ the Pigeon”, which goes a little like this:

I think it’s great that Bert loves pigeons! Hopefully many children out there have become interested in pigeons because of Sesame Street. Here’s another video: