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Prolific species of urban birds

Pigeons are a success, having survived the arrival of humanity. Whereas most wild animals like to live in The Wild, some have adapted to be able to live in the type of environment which human society has created. (Other successes include foxes , rats , cats , and a few others). Pigeons have survived because their natural nesting habitat doesn't require trees, and instead the early proto-pigeons lived as rock-doves on cliffs and rocky outcrops. Humans have created things which offer pigeons similar habitats: buildings!

Pigeons find food by scavenging, but this became much easier because people consider pigeons to be cute and relatively tame-looking for such a large bird, and so it's usual for people to feed the pigeons. Some locations have become famous for this, such as Trafalgar Square in London, where vast throngs of pigeons are sustained by tourists feeding them.

As pigeons are very common and are familiar to people, there are some interesting questions which people ask. The most notable of these is...

Why Do You Never See Baby Pigeons - also mentioned in Zyra Newsletter 129

This has done rather well here at this site, as at last the mystery is explained. You're welcome to read it for yourself! Here it is: Why Do You Never See Baby Pigeons?

Pigeons, being large flying critters, interact with the urban environment, and so there are some interesting observations such as...

A Pigeon can switch on a Streetlamp - photo showing this happening - published at the time of Zyra Circular 150

Opinions about pigeons vary. Most people quite like them and think they are rather cute, but some people despise them, and they call them "flying rats". Flying rats, indeed? There is an element of truth in this, as pigeons are said to carry disease (although no-one is diagnosed as having caught TB (tuberculosis) from a pigeon, etc). Pigeons are especially disliked by people who own quality buildings,  [Streetlamp
switched on by a Bird] because pigeons nest on the structure, and they make a mess. This fact, that pigeons make a mess, is one of the key points of annoyance which people place as blame upon the pigeon species. It's quite usual to see pigeon-wire and those stylish punky spikes on public edifices and equipment. (Pigeon wire and defensive measures versus city-dwelling pigeons also gets mentioned at Zyra Circular newsletter 61 and there is a picture involving some hotel pigeon-wire being twanged as if it's on a guitar).

There are some rather good pictures of pigeons at the Perceptions Forum Pictures of Pigeons page!

Pigeons are a species which has been of considerable use to humans, like dogs, where although pigeons haven't exactly been "tamed", their natural instincts and behaviour has been used to people's advantage.

Homing Pigeons are pigeons that know their way home and can be released many tens of miles away and they get home without a sat-nav. A pigeon has a compass in its head, and it can also recognise the scenery as if it has an instinct for mapping. It has been said changes in magnetic fields can affect pigeons. On the page about Earth's Poles are Going to Flip there is mention that homing pigeons might get lost as their magnetic compasses in their heads will be played up. The evidence for pigeons' magnetic sense is known scientifically. There have been experiments were scientists attached an electromagnet to a pigeon and it became lost until the electromagnet ran out of battery.

Pigeon Fanciers are folk who like pigeons. The homing instincts of pigeons have produced the sport of Pigeon Racing, where pigeons are timed from release at a distant location to their home loft. Pigeons can be the subject of selective breeding, and this is a craft in itself.

Other pigeon references at this site...

There's a nice page about The Dangers of Radiation from Mobile Phone Masts but the page has found some notoriety because of a misunderstanding. The page actually says that you do not get Kentucky Fried Pigeons!

Although pigeons are edible, they are somewhat of a specialist dish, like the rats in Thailand which tourists are keen to try. Pigeon meat is known as "squab" and it is available from some posh restaurants. This is explained on the page about Baby Pigeons because of the fact that pigeon farmers must surely be aware of the existence of baby pigeons?! On the matter of edible pigeons, and pigeon meat, I would speculate that Free Range makes a big difference to the taste. As with Free Range Chicken , it's all the interesting stuff they eat that gives the meat a quality flavour and nutritional qualities.

Pigeon Holes, or Pigeonholes are classifications or categorisations of things which are narrow and mutually-exclusive. It's a derogatory term for poor categorisations. Fortunately, the Categories at Zyra's website are not pigeonholes. They are overlapping, and wide. Individualistic folk classically can not be fitted into pigeon-holes, and websites don't always fit the assumption-space which some companies assume. This is also referenced on the page "Please link to this site", cultural ethos , Zyra's Circular 99 Newsletter , Adrian Flux insurance , Australia , Zyra's Circular 133 (although this also mentions baby pigeons) , and Newsletter 116 . The etymology, the derivation of the term "pigeon-holes" is probably from dove cotes having little holes that were the right size for the birds that were supposed to live there.

Stool Pigeon, or Stoolpigeon is a term for something or someone that's used for a purpose in which they are the victim and are made to be a mug. The term comes from the time of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. Passenger pigeons were a species of birds which were amazingly numerous. However, they were very sociable and it was their social networking that brought about their downfall. (Maybe there's a moral in the story and it fits with humans being hooked on Social Networking?!). Anyway, if someone wanted to ensnare a great many passenger pigeons in the old days, what they'd do is to catch one pigeon and fix it onto to a stool. Birds flying around in the sky would see the fixed pigeon on the stool and would assume that it was there by its own free will and therefore indicated the location to be safe. So, they would arrive to join their "friend", and that's when the hunters would be able to ensnare them en-mass! Millions of pigeons were ensnared that way, and the final extinction of the passenger pigeon occurred because their social dependency was such that when the numbers dropped to a few thousand they failed to be able to breed. The term "stoolpigeon" is used on such pages as the one about things going on in the government of the United States, the old Buy.at contract , the old Buy.at Contract - and what's wrong with it , and a few other places.

Funky Pigeon is a personalised greeting card company, and it's one of the places mentioned on the page about Merchants Invited to have an Affiliate Program

Clay Pigeon shooting is a sport mentioned at such places as Treat Me. In the sport of clay pigeon shooting, people can fire guns at moving targets and practice their shooting. However, the clay pigeons which are the targets in clay pigeon shooting have an appearance which is nothing like pigeons, or birds of any kind. It's not some kind of shooting gallery with an array of static ceramic items, or it would be called Clay Sitting-Duck Shooting. Clay pigeons are discus-like round projectiles which are spun and fired from a machine, initiated by the command "Pull!". The discs then traverse the sky and the sporting people then take pot-shots at them. See, like a blood-sport but involving no death of animals.

That's your pigeon! This means it's your own private affair and not anything anyone else need concern themselves with. It implies you have the advantages and problems of the thing in question. This term is used on the page of BT saying all 0870 and 0845 numbers are Free

Pigeons are also mentioned in passing at the page discussing Unmetered Access Internet Connections in the reference about feeding the pigeons. Feeding pigeons is also mentioned at the page about the nonsense of Wasting Food

Pidgin English - not "Pigeon English" is communication with some aspects of English language but without the usual grammar. This may take the form of a creole where English words are used with the linguistic structure of an entirely different language. You can see experiments into this by transliteration of French into English and English into French. The words are translated one-to-one but the sentence structure isn't. It sounds wrong, but the results are sometimes understood. Creole is widely spoken in Belize, although tourists are better off speaking English or Spanish.

Other things:

If you've got a problem with pigeons messing up your building, you could try Bird-X , or call for a falconer! Other ideas include defensive nets, and spiky bits (which are plastic and don't hurt the pigeons - they just deter them from landing).[Zyra's site]

If you've got a pigeon in your house and you want to get it out without hurting it, see how to catch a bird, and good luck!

This stuff is at Zyra's website, a place with plenty of interesting and unusual pages of stuff. Well worth a browse around!