Most birdwatchers hardly spare a glance for the feral, or semi-domesticated, pigeons of our towns, strutting across pavements or flying above the streets with their wings held momentarily in a V-shape. Yet they are interesting birds with a long history.

Nearly all of them come from ancestors that passed through human hands. Some of these were kept for food in dovecotes many were trained as homing or racing pigeons in a competitive sport that survives.

They have hybridised, and a flock may contain birds of very different appearance. Among them, however, are numerous individuals that still look very like the wild rock doves of the coast. They can be picked out by their blue-grey colour and the two heavy black bars on each wing. These probably derive from wild birds once captured by humans for use in the shooting booths. Rock doves are very quick and agile on the wing, and were good; challenging targets for the gunners when released.

In the wild they live on rocky seaside cliffs, and the pure form is found mainly in northwest Scotland. However, the feral birds sometimes go back to their cliff habitat and interbreed with them, so they may eventually die out.

The town pigeons can look very scruffy and dirty, and one wonders what they have been eating, so they are not very popular. But a sudden panicky flight into the sky by a streetful of them when they are alarmed can be quite spectacular. These can be seen much more often now that peregrine falcons are found in town centres looking for pigeons.

The town pigeons’ note is a little rolling “coo”, much used in courtship, and one can often see a male walking rapidly, in a rather hustling style, behind a female in the hope of wooing her. They nest in sheltered holes and crevices in buildings, often under railway bridges. We may not greatly like them, but it seems that we shall always have them with us.


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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.

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