Wings of the … pigeon?

Wings of the … pigeon?

A little experiment: What comes to mind when you hear the word “dove”?

Intimations of peace? The promise of hope after long hardship, à la Noah releasing a snow-white bird to gauge the waters of the flood? A kick-ass ice cream bar? Whatever the image, the association is likely positive. Beatific, even.

Now try another word. “Pigeon.”

If you’re like most people — and especially if you’re like most city dwellers — you probably get a bit skeeved out just hearing the word. Pigeons? They might not be vermin — not exactly — but they aren’t too far up the ladder, either. They eat trash. They crap everywhere. Stupid. Filthy. Rats with wings. Right? Sorry, but not quite. In fact, not even close. And thanks to Andrew Blechman’s consistently engaging and surprising new book, “Pigeons,” the seemingly dull, unlovely members of the Columbidae family — or, rather, their idiosyncratic and intensely loyal human proponents — now have a handy arsenal of lively anecdotes and plain old facts (heads up, wisenheimers: Pigeons are doves) with which to defend their long-maligned feathered friends.

Along the way, Blechman takes pains to chronicle the views of people for whom pigeons are, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, a plague. He spends a cold, taxing day in rural Pennsylvania among a community of men, women and children who enthusiastically and unapologetically shoot pigeons for sport, for food and even for charity. He chats with the owner of a South Carolina squab-processing plant for whom the birds are nothing more than meat divinely destined for ovens, frying pans and human gullets. (“All he cares about,” Blechman writes, “are breasts, because that’s where the meat is. ‘I want nice, well-rounded ones,’ he tells me. ‘I want big breasts.'”) And, evidently without having to search too far, Blechman finds and dutifully quotes those who, for reasons as numerous as bread crumbs in St. Mark’s Square, simply despise the red-legged head-bobbers that have learned to live (and, more universally than their human counterparts, thrive) amid the chaos of modern metropolises.

But despite his fair and balanced reporting on the many detractors of, as his book’s subtitle has it, “The World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird,” make no mistake — Blechman himself is a Columbidae family man. While he was, by his own admission, neither anti- nor pro-pigeon when he began the peripatetic journey traced in the book, something clearly happened during his wanderings through the variegated, far-flung worlds of pigeonistas. Yes, the author dutifully records the myriad arguments for the bird’s obliteration. Sure, he eats fried pigeon, and enjoys it. Admittedly, he readies, aims and fires a shotgun at pigeons, and experiences the thrill of the hunt — or, more exactly, the thrill of standing still and blasting away at birds released from spring-loaded traps. But almost before the reader has settled in and begun to enjoy Blechman’s disarming, conversational style (“Some people like pigeons. But pigeons also piss a lot of people off”), the author’s enthusiasm for his subject starts flying right off the page. One almost pictures him beating imaginary wings as he expounds on the pigeon’s mind-boggling physical attributes and capabilities:

“With hollow bones containing reservoirs of oxygen, a tapered fuselage, giant breast muscles that account for one-third of its body mass, and an ability to function indefinitely without sleep, the rock dove [as many ornithologists have begun referring to the bird] is a feathered rocket built for speed and endurance. If an average up-and-down of the wing takes the bird three feet, then a racer is making roughly 900,000 of those motions during a long-distance race, while maintaining 600 heartbeats per minute — triple its resting rate. The rock dove can reach peak velocity in seconds and maintain it for hours on end. One pigeon was recorded flying for several hours at 110 mph — an Olympian feat by any measure.”

That Blechman repeats, with only slight variations, this litany of athletic gifts throughout the book is one of the few aspects of the tale that grows old. We get it! Pigeons are incredibly fast fliers that can remain on the wing at top speed for hours on end on the avian equivalent of fumes. Is there really anything more of interest to say about the animal? What else has it got? And does the creature actually warrant writing, and reading, a whole book?

Pigeons, it turns out, have lived closely with humans, in a perpetually evolving relationship — first as a handy and docile source of protein, then as an incomparably fast means of transferring information and, finally, as a focus of sport (racing and shooting) and a pastime (show breeding) — for perhaps 10,000 years. They’ve served as symbols of fertility, peace and renewal in religions from Christianity and Judaism to Greek, Babylonian and other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cults and creeds, while practitioners of yoga have long invoked the bird’s winged shape while assuming poses like the One-Legged King Pigeon.

For millennia, rock doves helped lost seafarers point their crafts toward land when lost, for even though the bird “often dwells on coastal cliffs, it has an aversion to large bodies of water and always flies inland in search of food. A bird released from a ship will quickly orient itself to land, and early sailors undoubtedly followed suit.”

Of course, the bird’s astonishing homing skills have been used for as long as, if not longer than, recorded history to carry messages of victory (and defeat) in war, announcements of the ascension of new kings and pharaohs to the throne, and even warnings of floods along the Nile. Underground coops discovered in Israel, dating from the time of King Solomon, held an estimated 120,000 pigeons — at least a few of which were, presumably, used for purposes other than keeping David and Bathsheba’s son and his friends readily supplied with squab.

And then there’s the tale of the creation of one of the world’s largest news companies. It all started when a failed German businessman named Israel Beer Josaphat hit upon the idea of tying tiny little bags stuffed with news and stock market prices beneath the wings of homing pigeons flown between Brussels and Aachen, Germany. The train between the cities took eight hours, the birds less than two. Josaphat ultimately changed his name to Julius Reuter and created a news-gathering empire founded on (or beneath) the wings of rock doves.

But as edifying as these historical tidbits might be, and as much about the rock dove as the book might appear to be, the story of “Pigeons” is, ultimately, one of how people respond to the bird. In the best sense, Blechman’s book reads like a series of entertaining, eye-opening magazine pieces held together by the sinews, feathers and strong, hollow bones of the rock dove. Like so many of the surprisingly enthralling books written in recent years about one discrete, at-first-glance vapid topic — Mark Kurlansky’s “Cod,” Charles Seife’s “Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea,” and innumerable others — “Pigeons” manages to illuminate not merely the ostensible subject of the book, but also something of the endearing, repellent, heroic and dastardly nature of that most bizarre of breeds, Homo sapiens.

Blechman has a shrewd eye and an ear nicely attuned to the peculiarities that reveal personality, and the human characters populating the pages of “Pigeons” are wonderfully and sympathetically drawn. From the friendly, unassuming pigeon breeders at the Grand Nationals competition held at a Lancaster, Pa., hotel, to the clearly obsessed trainers and owners of racing pigeons in the Bronx and rural England and beyond, to the happy, driven rescuer and champion of rock doves who lives in a squalid home in Arizona literally dripping with not-quite-calcified pigeon shit, the pro-bird folks who pop up in “Pigeons” make avid cat and dog people seem, well, tame in comparison.

“Sweetie, a pigeon the size of a small turkey, is pacing back and forth on what used to be a Formica kitchen counter,” Blechman writes of a bird who makes her home with Dave Roth, the one-man rescue mission and Jerry Garcia look-alike of Phoenix, Ariz. “Roth nuzzles her. ‘That’s my girl. You’re such a sweetie, aren’t you?’ He turns to face me. ‘If everybody could experience this kind of a relationship with a bird, then we wouldn’t have all the problems we have today with the pigeon haters. Pigeons can be funny, animated, and loyal like a dog. You’d be amazed.'”

This kitchen counter encounter, which appears at just about the exact halfway point of the book, is emblematic of much that’s weird and humorous and even a little unsettling about Blechman’s tale. If you’re somehow still on the fence about pigeons until this point, you’ll probably fall hard and fast on either side once you’ve spent a little time with Dave Roth. (Of eating squab, Roth opines that it’s “like Jeffrey Dahmer eating your kid.” Roth, it’s worth noting, is a bachelor. And childless.)

Finally, as fate would have it, at pretty much the exact same time that Blechman’s book was hitting bookstores, several research studies found that (wait for it) pigeons are vastly more intelligent than anyone, even most pigeon fans, have given them credit for.

“Pigeons are no slouches,” said Robert G. Cook of Tufts University, coauthor of a study that found that pigeons can remember more than 1,000 individual images. Another study showed that pigeons evidently possess the ability to compare relationships — such as sameness or difference — rather than merely identifying distinct images or objects. Researchers claimed that the ability, previously observed and quantified only in humans and a handful of other higher mammals, is a form of analogous thinking — primitive, but nonetheless exceedingly rare in the animal kingdom.

Rats with wings? Affectionate companions? Idiotic pests? Miraculous navigators? Tasty eats? Blechman’s “Pigeons” flies in the face of conventional wisdom about a symbolically freighted bird that, if we thought about it at all, we thought we knew. Time to think again.

Source

Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Bird Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.

Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products ten years in a row.

Contact us at 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD, (604) 585-9279 or visit our website at www.pigeonpatrol.ca

Pigeon/Pigeon Patrol / Pigeons Roosting / Vancouver Pigeon Control /Bird Spikes / Bird Control / Bird Deterrent / Pigeon Deterrent?  Surrey Pigeon Control / Pest /Seagull deterrent / Vancouver Pigeon Blog / Birds Inside Home / Pigeons in the cities / Ice Pigeons/ What to do about pigeons/ sparrows , Damage by Sparrows, How To Keep Raccoons Away,  Why Are Raccoons Considered Pests/ De-fence / Pigeon Nesting/ Bird Droppings / Pigeon Dropping/ woodpecker control/ Professional Bird Control Company/ Keep The Birds Away/ Birds/rats/ seagull/pigeon/woodpecker/ dove/sparrow/pidgeon control/pidgeon problem/ pidgeon control/flying rats/ pigeon Problems/ bird netting/bird gel/bird spray/bird nails/ bird guard

Why You Should Never Feed Pigeons Around Your Home or in the City

Why You Should Never Feed Pigeons Around Your Home or in the City

Pigeons are not pets! Feral pigeon nuisance is becoming a major problem in North America. They are not afraid of people and roost in almost any area where there is a food source. Where they eat, they leave droppings and the feral pigeons in the city and rural areas are associated with a variety of allergens, bacteria, and other health hazards.

Feeding Pigeons Destroys the Ecosystem

Many people enjoy feeding and watching feral birds, but they are unaware that they may be causing more harm than good. Feeding pigeons creates unnaturally large pigeon populations, and overcrowding can cause disease outbreaks in humans and other wild birds. Keeping a food source around your home for feral pigeons should be discouraged. Pigeons are scavengers and providing them with scraps can result in a nutritional deficiency, and they lose their natural ability to travel elsewhere to find food.

Nothing but Pigeon Poop

A typical pigeon dispenses about 25 pounds of fecal matter per year. Pigeon-related damage costs cities and homeowners for pest control and sanitation, but an even more dire reminder why you shouldn’t feed them are the diseases that can be spread from the droppings. Even with the spikes, nets, and barriers, pigeon-proofing has become a major undertaking. Feral pigeons lay eggs six times a year, and breed more rapidly when near a major food source. In some cities, feeding pigeons is illegal. If you have ever had to clean up after pigeons, you would realize if you don’t feed them they will leave and find their own food source!

Breaking the Habit

Pigeon-lovers are being blamed for the continuous list of complaints about pigeon infestation in major cities across Canada. Even tourists love feeding the pigeons, but they are ruining the building facades and monuments and continue to escalate sanitation costs. Power washing the aluminum or brick on your home is also costly. Pigeons are intelligent and will remember if they are fed. They will return and roost and find a place to nest. Eventually, you will be left with the droppings, and if an infestation occurs, it could get costly.

Dealing with an Overpopulation

If you inadvertently have fed the pigeons and you notice that you have a problem, call a pest control agent to assess the severity of the flock. Before they become a health hazard, or breed, or attract more feral pigeons, DO NOT FEED THEM! If you have bird feeders in your yard, be careful not to drop seed on the ground as this will also attract feral pigeons.

Source

Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Bird Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.

Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products ten years in a row.

Contact us at 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD, (604) 585-9279 or visit our website at www.pigeonpatrol.ca

Pigeon/Pigeon Patrol / Pigeons Roosting / Vancouver Pigeon Control /Bird Spikes / Bird Control / Bird Deterrent / Pigeon Deterrent?  Surrey Pigeon Control / Pest /Seagull deterrent / Vancouver Pigeon Blog / Birds Inside Home / Pigeons in the cities / Ice Pigeons/ What to do about pigeons/ sparrows , Damage by Sparrows, How To Keep Raccoons Away,  Why Are Raccoons Considered Pests/ De-fence / Pigeon Nesting/ Bird Droppings / Pigeon Dropping/ woodpecker control/ Professional Bird Control Company/ Keep The Birds Away/ Birds/rats/ seagull/pigeon/woodpecker/ dove/sparrow/pidgeon control/pidgeon problem/ pidgeon control/flying rats/ pigeon Problems/ bird netting/bird gel/bird spray/bird nails/ bird guard

Pigeons never forget a face

Pigeons never forget a face

New research has shown that feral, untrained pigeons can recognise individual people and are not fooled by a change of clothes.

Researchers, who presented their work at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow on the 3rd of July, have shown that urban pigeons that have never been caught or handled can recognise individuals, probably by using facial characteristics.

Although pigeons have shown remarkable feats of perception when given training in the lab this is the first research showing similar abilities in untrained feral pigeons.

In a park in Paris city centre, pigeons were fed by two researchers, of similar build and skin colour, wearing different coloured lab coats. One individual simply ignored the pigeons, allowing them to feed while the other was hostile, and chased them away. This was followed by a second session when neither chased away the pigeons.

The experiment, which was repeated several times, showed that pigeons were able to recognise the individuals and continued to avoid the researcher who had chased them away even when they no longer did so. Swapping lab coats during the experiments did not confuse the pigeons and they continued shun the researcher who had been initially hostile.

“It is very likely that the pigeons recognised the researchers by their faces, since the individuals were both female and of a similar age, build and skin colour,” says Dr. Dalila Bovet a co-author of this work from the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. “Interestingly, the pigeons, without training, spontaneously used the most relevant characteristics of the individuals (probably facial traits), instead of the lab coats that covered 90% of the body.”

The fact that the pigeons appeared to know that clothing colour was not a good way of telling humans apart suggests that the birds have developed abilities to discriminate between humans in particular. This specialised ability may have come about over the long period of association with humans, from early domestication to many years of living in cities.

Future work will focus on identifying whether pigeons learn that humans often change clothes and so use more stable characteristics for recognition, or if there is a genetic basis for this ability, linked to domestication or to having evolved in an urban environment.

Source

Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Bird Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.

Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products ten years in a row.

Contact us at 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD, (604) 585-9279 or visit our website at www.pigeonpatrol.ca

Pigeon/Pigeon Patrol / Pigeons Roosting / Vancouver Pigeon Control /Bird Spikes / Bird Control / Bird Deterrent / Pigeon Deterrent?  Surrey Pigeon Control / Pest /Seagull deterrent / Vancouver Pigeon Blog / Birds Inside Home / Pigeons in the cities / Ice Pigeons/ What to do about pigeons/ sparrows , Damage by Sparrows, How To Keep Raccoons Away,  Why Are Raccoons Considered Pests/ De-fence / Pigeon Nesting/ Bird Droppings / Pigeon Dropping/ woodpecker control/ Professional Bird Control Company/ Keep The Birds Away/ Birds/rats/ seagull/pigeon/woodpecker/ dove/sparrow/pidgeon control/pidgeon problem/ pidgeon control/flying rats/ pigeon Problems/ bird netting/bird gel/bird spray/bird nails/ bird guard

Wings of the … pigeon?

Why do pigeons bob their heads when they walk?

Most evidence suggests that the head bobbing serves a visual function.

Chickens bob their heads while walking. So do cranes, magpies and quails. In fact, head bobbing is a unique feature in birds and occurs in at least 8 of the 27 families of birds.

There are a few theories why some birds bob their heads when they walk:

  1. Assists with balance
  2. Provides depth perception
  3. Sharpens their vision

However, most studies suggest that birds in motion bob their heads to stabilize their visual surroundings. In comparison, we rely more on our eye movements, not our head movements, to catch and hold images while in motion.

Picture a pigeon on a moving treadmill. What do you think would happen as the pigeon walks with the speed of the treadmill and its environment remains relatively the same? Dr. Barrie J Frost (1978) did this experiment and the pigeon’s head did not bob.

Dr. Mark Friedman (1975) also conducted a series of experiments to test the head bobbing actions of birds, using doves. His research demonstrated that the head movement is controlled more by visual stimulation than movement of the body.

Scientists continue to research head bobbing in birds. For example, scientists are currently investigating question such as “Why do some birds exhibit head bobbing, while other do not?” For more information on this topic see the related Web sites section.

Source

Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Bird Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.

Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products ten years in a row.

Contact us at 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD, (604) 585-9279 or visit our website at www.pigeonpatrol.ca

Pigeon/Pigeon Patrol / Pigeons Roosting / Vancouver Pigeon Control /Bird Spikes / Bird Control / Bird Deterrent / Pigeon Deterrent?  Surrey Pigeon Control / Pest /Seagull deterrent / Vancouver Pigeon Blog / Birds Inside Home / Pigeons in the cities / Ice Pigeons/ What to do about pigeons/ sparrows , Damage by Sparrows, How To Keep Raccoons Away,  Why Are Raccoons Considered Pests/ De-fence / Pigeon Nesting/ Bird Droppings / Pigeon Dropping/ woodpecker control/ Professional Bird Control Company/ Keep The Birds Away/ Birds/rats/ seagull/pigeon/woodpecker/ dove/sparrow/pidgeon control/pidgeon problem/ pidgeon control/flying rats/ pigeon Problems/ bird netting/bird gel/bird spray/bird nails/ bird guard

Pigeon poop proves a problem. Police involved

Pigeon poop proves a problem. Police involved

There’s been a few charges laid around town but there is one individual who is causing more headaches than normal

The pigeon problem in Kirkland Lake is so bad, police felt the need to issue a news release this morning warning residents to follow the law when dealing with them.

The town started renting out traps to residents today to capture pigeons, and police say that trappers will be responsible for the disposal of the birds, which includes a ban on throwing them in the garbage for curbside pickup. Successful trappers will instead have to take the pigeons for burial at the town dump.

“The OPP want to inform the residents that it is each individual’s responsibility to educate themselves on this topic and to ensure that they are acting within the laws, regulations and town by-laws,” says Constable Adam Gauthier.

The problem started, says Ashley Bilodeau, Kirkland Lake’s Manager of Planning and Land Development, when a few bird lovers started feeding the pigeons.

“We have a couple of residents that have been obnoxiously feeding pigeons to the point where we have some serious problem areas, so we passed a no-feeding bylaw back in the fall,” she told BayToday. “However, there is one individual who just continues to feed them despite the bylaw and has been charged. There’s been a few charges laid around town but there is one individual who is causing more headaches than normal.”

The fine for feeding is steep at $100, and that’s down from the $250 the town wanted to charge but the province wouldn’t allow it.

“So we’re trying to find different ways to combat the issue because it’s now causing problems to people’s properties and vehicles because there are so many of them.”

Bilodeau says the town has checked with the MNRF and it’s not illegal to kill pigeons although you are required to have a small game licence in order to trap and kill pigeons.

The town has not placed a limit on the number of pigeons people can capture, but police warn folks can’t use their guns to shoot the birds because discharging a firearm is prohibited within the Town of Kirkland Lake,

Bilodeau says poop is the problem.

“They’re also causing damage to buildings by trying to build nesting areas,” she adds. “We’ve got four traps here and people can come in and put in a deposit and take the trap for 10 days, and when they bring it back they get their money back.”

Pigeons were originally bred from the wild rock dove, which naturally inhabits sea-cliffs and mountains according to Wikipedia, so the bird finds the ledges of buildings to be a substitute for sea cliffs.

They have become abundant in towns and cities throughout the world. Due to their abilities to create large amounts of excrement and to carry disease, combined with crop and property damage, pigeons are largely considered a nuisance with steps being taken in many municipalities to lower their numbers or completely eradicate them.

Source

Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Bird Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.

Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products ten years in a row.

Contact us at 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD, (604) 585-9279 or visit our website at www.pigeonpatrol.ca

Pigeon/Pigeon Patrol / Pigeons Roosting / Vancouver Pigeon Control /Bird Spikes / Bird Control / Bird Deterrent / Pigeon Deterrent?  Surrey Pigeon Control / Pest /Seagull deterrent / Vancouver Pigeon Blog / Birds Inside Home / Pigeons in the cities / Ice Pigeons/ What to do about pigeons/ sparrows , Damage by Sparrows, How To Keep Raccoons Away,  Why Are Raccoons Considered Pests/ De-fence / Pigeon Nesting/ Bird Droppings / Pigeon Dropping/ woodpecker control/ Professional Bird Control Company/ Keep The Birds Away/ Birds/rats/ seagull/pigeon/woodpecker/ dove/sparrow/pidgeon control/pidgeon problem/ pidgeon control/flying rats/ pigeon Problems/ bird netting/bird gel/bird spray/bird nails/ bird guard

What Are Dovecotes?

What Are Dovecotes?

What Are Dovecotes?

Dovecotes, Commonly known as:

Pigeon houses, columbaria, culver houses, pigeon cotes, dove houses

A dovecote or dovecot, doocot or columbarium is a structure intended to house pigeons or doves. Dovecotes may be free-standing structures in a variety of shapes, or built into the end of a house or barn. They generally contain pigeonholes for the birds to nest.

Widcombe Manor Farm DovecoteWidcombe Manor Farm Dovecote

Dovecotes were a common sight throughout Britain and across mainland Europe between the 16th and 19th centuries, but today few remain and of those that do, many are now in ruins. Dovecotes are specially constructed pigeon houses where pigeons were kept for a variety of purposes, but in the main as a source of food. Other uses for the domesticated pigeon were as quarry for falconry and as a target for shooting matches that were common in the 19th century and in which as many as 120 birds were shot for sport in each match. Dovecotes can be constructed of virtually any material (although early dovecotes were constructed exclusively of stone) and can be free-standing structures or provided as part of an existing structure or as a ‘lean-to’ addition.

 

 

Ancient Dovecote at EmbletonAncient Dovecote at Embleton

The earliest dovecotes may have been introduced to Britain by the Romans based on the fact that pigeon rearing was common in Italy with dovecotes being provided close to villas and farmsteads for the purpose of food. Over half a century ago C.D. Chalmers suggested that a number of unexplained foundations on Roman sites in Britain were the remains of ancient dovecotes, but his views have never been corroborated. Due to the lack of any firm evidence that dovecotes were introduced into Britain by the Romans it is likely that it was the Normans that first introduced the dovecote and as a result domesticated the rock dove from which the feral pigeon of today is descended.

 

One of the earliest British examples is believed to be a 12th century dovecote that was uncovered during archaeological works in Raunds, Northamptonshire. This early dovecote is circular and commonly known as a ‘rubblestone dovecote’. A number of these early rubblestone dovecotes, dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, have been uncovered throughout southern England in recent years and with quite a significant geographical spread ranging from Devon in the south-west through to Lincolnshire in the east. These early dovecotes were built mainly to service the culinary needs of monasteries, castles and manors but were the sole preserve of the wealthy and almost certainly beyond the means of the poor. In Medieval and Norman times the building of a dovecote was a feudal right restricted to lords of the manor, abbots and barons with these privileges eventually extending down to the humble parish priest. Today very few of these structures remain intact.

 

Much Marcle DovecoteMuch Marcle Dovecote

It was in the 16th century that dovecotes became popular in Britain with a huge variety of different designs and types being constructed. Ancient dovecotes are believed to be round in shape but later in the 17th century square, rectangular and octagonal dovecotes were built, some with incredibly intricate designs. Further designs and types include ‘lectern’ dovecotes, ‘in and out’ dovecotes, ‘polygon’ dovecotes and even caves have been adapted for the keeping of domesticated pigeons. Lectern dovecotes are shaped like a reading desk, hence their common name, and normally consisted of a 4-sided building with a single pitched roof with raised parapet walls on 3 sides. In and out dovecotes, sometimes known as Irish dovecotes, consisted of tiers of breeding cubicles together with perching ledges that were built into the exterior wall of a house or building. Polygon dovecotes (polygon, in this context, meaning a building with more than 5 sides) are more often than not octagonal structures ranging dramatically in size and often housing large numbers of birds. Caves, both coastal and inland, have been used to house domestic pigeons but their use is less common than the conventional dovecote.

 

 

Breeding Cubicles, Shobdon Court DovecoteBreeding Cubicles,
Shobdon Court Dovecote

The interior of a dovecote is usually a large open space with the breeding cubicles or ledges being offered in rows around the internal walls. Pigeons would enter the dovecote in a variety of ways, depending on the size, shape and type of structure, with the most common entry/exit point (known as the flight entrance) being provided beneath a cupola on the roof of the structure. The birds would be encouraged to roost and breed within the structure and as pigeons are quite prolific breeders, bringing up to 8 young into the world each year, competition for breeding cubicles would be high.

 

As the main purpose of a dovecote was to provide food, and as the pigeon squab (or chick) was seen as a delicacy, squabs would be ‘farmed’ when they achieved a certain age and size (normally 4 weeks of age). In the 16th century eating pigeon meat became much more popular with ‘pigeon pie’ becoming a delicacy and often described as ‘food fit for kings’ – this rather dispels the myth that pigeons are disease carriers! As a result of this popularisation, pigeon meat not only graced the tables of the monarchy and the rich, it became a standard food for the masses and it was commonly said that every family should eat squab at least once a week. Some squab ‘farms’ were believed to house anything from 10,000 to 30,000 birds to satisfy this demand.

 

Cross-section of Classic DovecoteCross-section of
Classic Dovecote

In order to access breeding cubicles and remove squabs an ingenious system had to be designed based on the inaccessibility of nests and the sheer height and size of some of the larger dovecotes. For smaller dovecotes a free-standing ladder was used for access but for larger structures a ‘potence’ was used, although more commonly for round rather than square or rectangular dovecotes. The potence consisted of a large vertical wooden pole situated in the centre of the interior and which was pivoted both at the base and at the top, allowing the pole to rotate 360°. Several lateral arms were joined to the vertical post at right angles to which ladders were attached. As the main pole was rotated the lateral arms and ladders also rotated around the interior allowing access to all the breeding cubicles.

 

 

Dovecote at GodminsterDovecote at Godminster

Although the provision of food was the main purpose of the dovecote, there was one interesting and highly valued by-product that had a dual purpose – pigeon guano! Pigeon guano was, and still is, considered to be one of the finest fertilisers in the world and was a highly prized commodity as a result. In the Middle East (where eating pigeon flesh was forbidden) dovecotes were built simply to provide manure for growing fruit and this practice continued for centuries. In France, Italy and Spain guano was used extensively on hemp crops and for the fertilisation of vineyards and in England it was considered to be an extremely potent manure. It was often said that pigeon guano was worth 10 loads of other sorts (manure).

 

 

Dovecote at Weetwood HallDovecote at Weetwood Hall

In the 16th century pigeon guano was sought after for a different reason – it was found to contain saltpetre, which was used for the manufacture of gunpowder. This secret was brought across from Germany and sold for a payment of £300, which would have been a huge sum in those days. This dramatically changed the role of the dovecote in light of the fact that guano was potentially valued more highly than the birds themselves and to protect this resource armed guards were often placed outside dovecotes to stop thieves stealing the guano. Production of saltpetre from pigeon guano ended in the late 18th century when it was found to be naturally occurring in South America.

 

 

Dovecote at Kings PyonDovecote at Kings Pyon

Although the commercial use of dovecotes died out in the 19th century with many magnificent examples being allowed to fall into disrepair due to neglect, they have experienced something of a re-birth in the 21st century with dovecotes being used for the control of the feral pigeon, a direct descendent of the domesticated dovecote bird. Dovecotes and pigeon lofts are now commonly used for the control of the feral pigeon in towns and cities all over the world, with the notable exception of the USA.

The principle of using a dovecote (or pigeon loft) as a pigeon control option was pioneered by the Pigeon Control Advisory Service International (PiCAS International) and can be loosely described as a form of birth control. Pigeons are encouraged into a dovecote by the provision of a dedicated public feeding area, sited immediately beside the dovecote, where the public will be asked to feed the birds at the same time as being asked to cease feeding elsewhere. Pigeons will then take up residence in the dovecote (based on the close proximity of a good reliable food source) and once breeding starts all eggs are removed, as laid, and replaced with dummy eggs. Where a pigeon loft is used for the purpose of control rather than a dovecote the facility would be sited on the roof of a building or even within the roof of a building, rather than at ground level. Pigeons would be encouraged into the loft by the provision of food and once breeding starts eggs would be removed and replaced in the same way as with a dovecote facility.

 

Bailiffscourt DovecoteBailiffscourt Dovecote

This humane, effective and cost effective method of control is rapidly replacing the extreme use of lethal control, commonly used to control pigeon populations in the 21st century. Schemes using dovecotes, or artificial breeding facilities as they are now commonly known, have achieved staggering results where provided as a control option, often reducing pigeon flock size by as much as 50% and in some cases by as much as 95%. Pigeons will readily use a dovecote facility for the purposes of breeding and providing that some basic rules are followed this method of control, based on a concept that is more than 1000 years old, will provide any property owner or local government body with a cheap, popular and highly effective means of controlling feral pigeon populations. Source

About Pigeon Patrol:

Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.

Contact us at 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD, (604) 585-9279 or visit our website at www.pigeonpatrol.ca

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