Sky Rats

Since I have blogged about rats, I decided to put a blog together about their fly­ing compadres–the Pigeon. Truth be told, I also love pigeons. They are adapt­able, non-agressive, wildlife with an amaz­ing his­tory. We all think of these dirty birds that carry dis­ease and poop on you when you are walk­ing in a big city. But there is alot more to them. They have a mil­i­tary his­tory and have received com­men­da­tions for bravely fly­ing mes­sages out of enemy ter­ri­to­ries even when injured. The rac­ing pigeon can fly for hun­dreds of miles to make its way home (I can­not drive across town some­times with­out get­ting lost and hav­ing to call my hus­band for help or refer to my phone’s GPS) and the fancy breed of pigeons can rival any other species in beauty and quirky­ness. I have had some doves and pigeons as patients. The pigeons were rac­ing pigeons we diag­nosed with bac­te­r­ial infec­tions. Unfor­tu­nately, there can be alot of overuse of antibi­otics in the pigeon world and that leads to resis­tant bac­te­ria. I am lucky to have dealt with some clients that have appre­ci­ated this con­cern and we were able to actu­ally sub­mit cul­tures and treat infec­tions appro­pri­ately.  My own per­sonal expe­ri­ence with the pigeon’s close cousin –the morn­ing dove–was dur­ing one sum­mer liv­ing in an apart­ment in Fair­fax, VA. I had a lit­tle bal­cony that was set up with a table, chairs and I had some pots for flow­ers out there. I had left the soil filled pots out­side dur­ing the win­ter, and by spring it appar­ently made a great nest­ing site for a pair of doves. I kept hear­ing alot of coo­ing and noise out­side and when I looked out the win­dow, I found the pair build­ing the nest…then lay­ing eggs…then feed­ing the chicks. I was able to watch the pro­gres­sion through the spring and even­tu­ally there was a whole fam­ily liv­ing out there. I did not step out onto the bal­cony for months due to these squat­ting ten­nants, but I enjoyed watch­ing them inter­act. Once every­one flew the nest, I had a major cleanup project to deal with–not so fun.
One of my best expe­ri­ences with pigeons was feed­ing and hav­ing them perch on my in St. Mark’s Square, Venice Italy. This was one of the stops on my hon­ey­moon, and for me one of the most memorable.

I am not the only one that has an affin­ity for these birds. Mr. James Walker has an amaz­ing web­site that includes draw­ings and pho­tos of these birds–appreciating the dif­fer­ences of pigeons around the coun­try and also their beauty in flight: Check out the link to snap­shots and see the slide show.

Some won­der­ful books for the pigeon lovers out there include:

Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird

This is an easy read and really puts an edu­ca­tional and humer­ous spin on the nat­ural his­tory of the pigeon.

Another fun book (table book) is:

So if your main expe­ri­ence with pigeons is when they poop on your car, or when they harangue you for food in the park, I can under­stand how you may not be a fan. But if you would like to learn more about them and see another side of them, there are plenty of great books out there to read.

One Response to “Sky Rats”

  1. new work…. « Says:

    […] from my solo show that is cur­rently on dis­play at North­side Social in Arling­ton VA….also, click here for an awe­some arti­cle about pigeons by Dr. Davis, one of the best exotics spe­cial­ist veterinarians […]