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Fancy Pigeons?: DIVERSIFLY BLOG #5

The poor old pigeon, it’s not very well liked is it? Even its name “Feral Pigeon” sounds dirty and unwanted.

But wherever you live in Britain, if you are in a town or city – you will be lucky enough to see them, often

I know, I know – Sky Rats, they are called, and for good reason – I hear many of you shout!

The urban dictionary’s definition and derivation of the term sky rat?

sky rat: a pigeon, due to the suspicion that rats turn to pigeons during daylight hours and back during the night. Also due to the fact that neither does anything of any value, other than shit everywhere…

Taken by Caroline Gill, in Ipswich

However there are many a pigeon fancier who frets over a missing pigeon. There is a wonderful poem about this in Rebecca Goss’ collection The Anatomy of Structures (2010, Flambard Press) Due to copyright I won’t copy any of it here, but thankfully it is online… you have to scroll down to the bottom of this page to read Pigeon Love

There is a woman in London who, by hanging out with pigeons  has learned a lot about their behaviour Here is her pigeon blog, written ‘by’ the pigeons – she took the photos. She has been writing this blog for over ten years now!


This Blog is part of the Urban Birds project. More details here


Bill Bailey, in his Remarkable Guide to British Birds says

Pigeons have been kept since as early as 4500 BC, making them the world’s first domesticated bird.
Charles Darwin was a keen pigeon fancier.
All pigeons are descended from the Rock Dove , which inhabits cliffs and rocky crevices
Pigeons are very intelligent.
They are one of our fastest fliers.


In Birds Britannica (Cocker & Mabey) there is an extraordinary photo of a young(16 yr old) Elizabeth Taylor. It says that she is feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, but I can’t imagine she put the birdfeed in her hair? It also says:

Metropolitan pigeons have acquired typical metropolitan talents, such as negotiating the Underground
It has recently been estimated from studies in Bristol that it requires 67 people to support a single feral pigeon, while the city’s population of 7,740 birds was estimated to be consuming ober one fifth of a tonne of grain each day


Brett Westwood & Stephen Moss, write for 8 March in Wonderland that:

Like so many familiar birds, we often ignore them – yet by doing so, we may miss out on observing some fascinating behaviour.
Just sit quietly in a city square and watch as – the male pigeons court their mates, strutting around after the female as she feigns apparent indifference… before she finally gives in to his charms.

Here is rather a lovely poem called ‘The Pigeon’, from DM Black’s ‘The Arrow Maker’ (Arc Publications)

Here are some links to further information about pigeons:

RSPB on Feral Pigeons
BBC Earth on Why don’t you ever see baby pigeons?
Pigeon Pest Control and the Law
The Royal Pigeon Association website

  This Blog is part of a series of Blogs that are part of the Fair Acre Press project –  DIVERSIFLY: everyday encounters with the birds of Britain’s towns and cities. For more details on the project go here

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