Feb 25 2008
For birders, pigeons are on the borderline between wild and tame, pests and pets. They willingly live off our food scraps yet we vaguely feel there’s something wrong with this even though we feed backyard birds.
Now there’s a book that tells us how pigeons got to where they are today and what special traits this has given them. Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird, by Andrew D. Blechman.
The saga began when humans domesticated the rock pigeon over 5,000 years ago. Since then we have widely divergent relationships with these birds: from pigeon fanciers to pigeon shooters, protectors to poisoners, pigeon racers to compulsive pigeon feeders. Blechman’s book delves into it all.
He also describes how:
• Pigeons are naturally even tempered. They do not bite or attack. This made them easy to domesticate and it’s why them seem tame.
• Racing pigeons fly non-stop more than 500 miles at more than 60 miles per hour. This is even more amazing when you consider they are trucked to the starting point – a place they have never seen – and within minutes they figure out where they are and where home is. Then they fly home immediately without stopping for food or water.
• Pigeon hating is a relatively new sentiment, promoted by “bird control companies.” For instance, if you use Google to search for this book online, the advertising links are all pigeon control companies.
• A 100% guaranteed, permanent pigeon control method was invented in Europe and, amazingly, involves providing them with nests.
After you read this book you won’t think the same old way about pigeons any more.