Appreciating Pigeons

Sunday, June 13, 2021   (June’s full [“Strawberry”] moon rises on the 24th [11 days].)

Pigeon Appreciation Day! Who knew? And I happen to have a pet pigeon.

Mine is a former racing pigeon, Gilbert, who was rescued by my friends, the Gilberts. On a summer day, they found him hanging-out in their barn and wearing leg rings that led them to his owner in California, a pigeon-racer. He explained that the pigeon had been racing from Washington State to home in California. A racing bird that stops is considered a failure. It would be fine if the Gilberts found a new home for this bird.

So, four years ago, Gilbert came to live with me.

He’s now six years old and delightful, quiet, non-obtrusive, but very alert and smart. Thankfully, Gilbert completely is the opposite in style and behavior from my other bird, a demanding parrot.

Long ago before I retired to country-like living, I considered wild pigeons as nuisances. There were too many and all very messy. Gilbert changed that perception. He’s encouraged me to explore pigeon keeping and breeding, and to understand why they’re enjoyable as pets.

Here’s Gilbert on first coming to me just after his racing days. A powerfully built and muscled-up bird, able to fly many miles without stopping.

Racing pigeons are descended from homing pigeons. After a little training of flying in circles, racers can find their ways back home from well over 500 miles away. Pigeons flying in circles learn where they are by detecting electronic pulses from the earth’s magnetic field. They use these pulses to self-orient, to work out where home is.

A pigeon that’s racing flies at average speeds of 65 mph.

Those “city birds”, pigeons people consider nuisances are good for many reasons. They help to disperse seeds and fertilize the ground by defecating which some trees need to grow their fruit. Pigeons help to control insect populations because they’re omnivores, surviving on both plant- and animal-based foods. Pigeons eat pretty much anything and remove food waste from our streets.

To many humans, pigeons are great pets.

Dear Friends: Always appreciate pigeons, and today especially, for it’s their day! Diana

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