Columba livia – aka feral pigeons


On the morning of 28 June 2021, I caught a kid on her way to the Manor Infant School in Portsmouth saying to her mother that she was going to scare the pigeons.

The mother was fine with it, just like most English parents are fine with the abuse of women in general (often including themselves, yes, sadly), of all foreigners as well as other strangers and of just about anyone over 45, not to mention the so-called feeble-minded and the so-called disabled.

These parents teach their kids that abuse is okay.

It is not.

Was this mother like those parents in Woolston, Southampton who taught their teenagers that it was okay to throw water, sand and stones at me while I was sitting on a bench, working on the Dutch version of Forensics for Dummies? Because that is what one does in England to single women over the age of 45? Just like it is okay to abuse feral pigeons? Yes, it is basically the same thing.

These youngsters in Southampton felt invincible even though elsewhere in England, two English people had just died as a result of similar attacks. There was a trial scheduled at the Old Bailey concerning the death of one of those two victims (Ernest Norton).

So they should have been scared, really scared.

Instead, these lads who attacked me felt so invincible, so supported by the adults around them – including police officers, no doubt – that they decided to sit down on the low wall in front of my home the next day. That had not happened before. These utterly spoiled brats are taught that it is okay to be abusive.

Would the mother be okay with the idea of her little girl taking a cat by the tail when she is a few years older and swinging it around by its tail?

No, this was not the innocent act of a little kid running after the pigeons because it is fun to see them fly away. I see that a lot and it does not bother me one bit. It does not bother the pigeons either. This kid was intentionally mean. She was not spontaneous about it. In fact, I first thought that she said she was scared of the birds. I can imagine a little girl being scared when birds suddenly fly up.

But no, she said that she wanted to go scare the birds.

I told this mother – whose kid was screaming like banshee at a bunch of pigeons quietly having some breakfast – that it was a very uneducated thing to do. I added that she should consider going to school because she might actually like it. (Oh yeah, 17 years of dealing with the English have taught me a few things.)

Humans have been on the planet for just about a second if you look at the geological time scale or the timeline of the development of biological species. A mere couple of hundred thousand years. Intelligent bird species like parrots and pigeons have been around for 55 million years.

Who’s done the most damage to the planet, to other species and to fellow members of their own species? The mammal species called Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens? Homo bloody destructive is more like it.

Pigeons can accelerate like almost no other bird species. Their agility in flight is exceptional. Their wing beat is immensely powerful. They love exercising their flying skills and can grow bored in captivity. To deal with that, they sometimes set themselves challenges such as landing on an steeply angled surface or landing on an object that always falls off – until it no longer falls off.

They can modulate how they flap their wings, making a whistling or slapping sound or not, among other things to communicate danger to each other. They also watch and listen to other bird species for any warnings of potential danger, such as a raptor, a helicopter, a fox or a cat.

They can see across a distance of 42 kilometres.

Source: The secret life of pigeons. 2015, with David Suzuki
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4cw-Av2Pk4

There is also a NatGeo documentary for which I will add the link later.

They know behind which doors good humans live and what the size of their home is. They know which homes are occupied by people who bear them ill will. They can recognise the faces of humans, from a distance and in photos. But we humans, by contrast, we can have ten pigeons right in front of us and unless a bird has distinctive markings, we wouldn’t know one from the next to the next.

Many pigeons instantly understand what a mirror is. They can also be taught useless stuff such as to distinguish between the 26 letters of the western human alphabet and to differentiate between music by different composers and paintings by different artists.

Humans took pigeons out of their natural habitats and spread them all over the world. Humans did that. They are everywhere now, except Antarctica. Humans took them all over the world and released them, just like they did to so many other species.

Female pigeons ovulate just like human females, once a month. The cycle of pigeons is about 26 days. Just like human females when they give birth, female pigeons can get very emotional when they’re laying eggs and want support from their partner.

Pigeons dote on their eggs and their young the way good human parents do too. They mourn the death of partners and offspring. They can get sad and frustrated when their eggs remain barren and won’t hatch. They can cheat on their partner, too.

When they are happy and content, they can purr like cats, only much softer.

They retreat to invisible spaces when they know their time has come, if they can still fly. Others don’t feel like waiting and deliberately decide to commit suicide by car, for example when they can no longer fly, for example after accidentally having gotten locked into a space for too long. Some contemplate it for a while, hesitantly, and then one day, they make their final decision.

This mother I saw this morning was not only teaching her kid that it is okay to harass wildlife but also that it is okay to break the law and that it is okay to abuse others who may not look exactly the same.

I spoke out. I live in a town with a culture that glorifies abuse throughout all levels of the local community. I live in a country that has a tendency to celebrate cruelty and cronyism.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 – which focuses on domestic animals – also protects feral pigeons. To be precise, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 tends to apply to commonly domesticated species. This means that it also for example protects feral cats (but not Scottish wildcats).

This is based on the idea that these animals originated from domestic stock. A good example of what is meant by that is that you can often spot ringed birds – both racing pigeons and deliberately released white pigeons – among flocks of seeming “wild” feral pigeons. Some of these racing pigeons among the seemingly local flock are actually on their way back to their loft and some of these racing pigeons are worth a fortune. These groups can also include escaped pets because many people keep pigeons as pets.

Remember that I just said that it’s humans who have spread pigeons all over the world? There are even pigeons who have become decorated war heroes for their unbelievably heroic acts of bravery and persistence to do what humans weren’t capable of. (For example to tell WWI soldiers in France that they were shooting at their own, helplessly trapped in gunfire, and dying.)

We humans have used the intelligence of these birds and their meat and eggs when it suited us. We’ve done the same thing to chickens. We similarly discard them, like the plastic trash we carelessly litter all over the world.

But pigeons – and chickens – are not plastic trash, are they? They are intelligent sentient beings (with abilities that we can only dream of).

The Animal Welfare Act also deals with all issues relating to cruelty and unnecessary suffering. For pigeons, this is commonly associated with the installation of bird control products, such as nylon bird netting.

For example, if the use of bird nets to keep feral pigeons away from a building or from the underside of a railway bridge results in the death of any of the pigeons or their young as a result of becoming trapped behind or in the netting, the property owner – not the pest control company – can be prosecuted for cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Apparently, this does not even need to be done by the police but can be a private prosecution undertaken by the RSPCA or by any civilian.

There is also the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to consider. Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, for example, deals with the killing of feral birds and the removal of their nests. Also with regard to feral pigeons, killing them or removing a pigeon’s nest requires a licence and strict adherence to the guidelines laid down by the licence. Killing a pigeon or removing a pigeon nest can only be done as a last resort in very special circumstances. For pigeons, such circumstances rarely ever occur.

These licences and a great deal of this information comes from DEFRA and from Natural England, both not exactly known for their wildlife-friendly stance.

To scoff at pigeons is to scoff at all life.

The above bird just happened to cross my path.

I have since started to experiment a little with pigeons to learn more about the species and to find out how you can work with them. They can sit on my windowsill, watching me do the dishes and curious about what it is that I am doing (or just resting). Yes, pigeons are inquisitive and the ones who are getting older may be sitting around a bit more than the younger ones.

That’s because I have experience with wild and feral birds and, as John Hadidian in the US knows, I am interested in humane wildlife deterrence. We must learn to live in harmony with the species of which we inherited the earth, otherwise there is no future for the human species. It’s as simple as that.

I also got in touch with a guy who runs a humane fox deterrence service in England. These services were getting many more calls for assistance than they could handle at the time and were looking to expand and cooperate as well as teach, through workshops.

But there is no market for such services in Portsmouth. Or is there? I believe that it is often quite possible to work with pigeons instead of against them.

It’s been done before. Also in England.

By the way, a lot of local pigeons did not survive the winter of 2020/2021.