Pigeon-A bird that calls cities and streets home

A pigeon on top of a skyscraper.

You may have walked down the street of a large metropolitan city or visited a park and observed a flock of pigeons.

Some may even have held a meeting on your roof.

Doubtless you noticed that they were quite fearless, possibly even eating from someone’s hand or at a very nearby feeding station.

But something else you may also have noticed—the mess these creatures produce on statuary, sidewalks and private homes

So you may wonder, why would anyone want to have these birds around?

And why would anyone ever want to raise pigeons?

Beautiful, graceful—perhaps but, oh, so dirty!

There is evidence that for thousands of years the Chinese employed pigeons for liaison purposes.

Akbar, a ruler of India in the sixteenth century C.E., reportedly had about 20,000 pigeons.

Today, thousands of people breed pigeons for their beauty, humorous antics, for racing or for food.

Young pigeons are marketed when they weigh from 12 to 24 ounces (340 to 680 grams).

Pigeons as Homemakers

A pigeon couple.

Part of the interest in pigeons lies in the exemplary cooperation of male and female.

At about four to six months of age the cock and hen mate, usually for life.

Together they start to build a nest and take turns sitting on it.

After the two eggs are laid, the female incubates them throughout the night, continuing until about 9:30 a.m.

Next the cock takes his turn, completing his incubation duty about 2:00 p.m.

After about eighteen and a half days the newly hatched pigeons, known as squabs, emerge to be fed by both parents.

Both hen and cock produce in their crops “pigeon milk,” a nutritious substance that is regurgitated and passed mouth to mouth from the parents to the babies.

“Milk” feeding continues for about two weeks and then the squabs’ diet becomes the same as that of the parents.

Challenges in rearing pigeons

A pigeon drinking water from a fountain.

While there can be a certain delight in raising pigeons, it does involve a substantial sum of money to house and feed the birds.

There is also work involved.

To prevent disease, bird lofts must be kept clean and dry.

The devices used for watering and feeding the birds must also be kept clean.

To facilitate this, the housing must be properly designed.

Cleanliness in the pigeon loft is absolutely a must, as it is known that pigeons can be carriers of diseases fatal to humans.

Sound management would also require isolating sick and newly purchased birds for a time.

This can prevent their introducing disease to the rest of the flock.

Pigeons have brought delight to many people throughout the centuries.

Even you may be surprised because of being able to get very close to these essentially wild birds without their taking wing.

And what pleasure can come from watching the antics of performing pigeons!

Adding to the fascination are the accomplishments of racing homers and the delicate beauty of fancy pigeons.

Truly, the pigeon is an interesting, fascinating bird.