Pigeons Rock (Doves)

Pigeons Rock (Doves)

People love doves, they are a symbol of peace, their gentle coo warms our hearts and brings a warm glow to bodies but not so the pigeon. Seen a plenty on our streets the humble pigeon, often called a sky rat, is hated by many. There is a slight problem with this though, there is no difference between a dove and a pigeon.

Our city pigeons are actually the feral descendants of the Rock Dove.

The Rock Dove – What many would call the common pigeon.

Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA

To make matters even more confusing, when looking at the etymology you see their names mean ‘pigeon, dove’

The rock dove was first described by Gmelin in 1789. The genus name Columba is the Latin word meaning “pigeon, dove”, whose older etymology comes from the Ancient Greek κόλυμβος (kolumbos), “a diver”, from κολυμβάω (kolumbao), “dive, plunge headlong, swim”. Aristophanes (Birds, 304) and others use the word κολυμβίς (kolumbis), “diver”, for the name of the bird, because of its swimming motion in the air – Wikipedia

Before becoming domesticated, the doves lived on the cliffs but found a happy life alongside humans. They are amazing companion birds who have a strong bond with the humans who keep them. They also mate for life and raise their young as a family unit. Uncles and aunts helping to guard the nest and even sitting the eggs and hatchlings.

Pigeon Heroes

As well as being sweet natured and loyal, they have served humans for hundreds of years. They have saved lives and won medals. The PDSA Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 in the United Kingdom by Maria Dickin to honour the work of animals in World War II and has been won by many pigeons. Maria Dickin was the founder of the PDSA.

Some examples of awards of this medal have been –

White Vision –  a Pigeon who delivered a message that led to the rescue of a ditched aircrew in October 1943. She flew 9 hours in bad visibility and heavy weather with strong headwinds.

Kenley Lass  – a Pigeon who who was the First pigeon to deliver intelligence from an agent in enemy-occupied France in October 1940; served with the National Pigeon Service. She was parachuted with the agent and released 12 days later to fly 300 miles back to home in less than 7 hours.

Gustav – a Pigeon who brought the first message from the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944 – Wikipedia

Recently I have had the absolute pleasure of watching these pigeons nesting on a balcony in Torquay. The little hatchling has survived Herring Gull attacks and the deepest snow this country has seen for more than a decade. Perhaps, the next time we are annoyed at a bit of poo on our car or think of the scavenging sky rats eating from our bins, it might be good to think of the lives that have been saved or the strength of bond these animals have both with their flock mates and with us.

2 thoughts on “Pigeons Rock (Doves)”

  1. I am a severely disabled lady who is mostly house bound and bed bound because of my illness.I can no longer walk so use an electric wheelchair to get around. I’m also an animal lover but due to my condition I can no longer keep a pet. When I moved into my specially adapted home last year, I began feeding the wild birds and a few squirrels. I had some hanging feeders on a pole and a squirrel feeder up on the fence. It became a fascinating hobby for me and for the very first time in my life I experienced fun and laughter because of their antics. The pigeons would wait first thing in the morning perched up on my back porch, peering in my living room window, waiting for me to scatter their seed. I found them hilarious!!! I love them!!! Sadly weeks ago I discovered that my neighbours are not happy. They don’t mind me feeding small birds because they do it, but they said pigeons are filthy vermin!!! And they do the toilet on people’s washing and carry disease. That they are dangerous. I was told not to feed them,not to scatter seed as rats will also get in. The things is the pigeons were brilliant little garden tidiers. They got fed first thing, and the rest of the day they cleared up from under the feeders at the end of the day. I discovered that they are highly intelligent. They knew me by my face. So if I drove round to my garden in my wheelchair to put out food, they learned to recognise me and didn’t fly away. Yet anyone walking past or near the garden they panicked and flew off. I also noticed one day I was wearing dark mirrored sunglasses, and when they saw me through my window,they all freaked out and flew away! But as soon as I removed the glasses they recognised me and came back. I am amazed to find out just how clever t they are, even to the point that they can recognise a face! Especially someone who is kind to them. Also they will remember the face of someone who shoos them and will stay away from that person. I miss them dreadfully. And little Hamish the squirrel. One neighbour is upset about him burrying peanuts in her garden, yet amazing no mention of my next door neighbours cats digging huge holes around freshly planted flowers and plants a and pooping everywhere and them stalking and terrifying all the birds. But they are frie nds. Again, I love cats too and have always kept cats throughout my life. And cats do hunt, but it’s their nature, and I would never have scolded a cat for say bringing me something. I just feel incredibly sad and brokenhearted. I removed the last feeder today. But it was dreadful when I initially stopped feeding the birds. The pigeons went nuts! I mean that they were highly distressed and panicked for days, flapping up at my window. I had to keep the curtains closed because if I opened, the pigeons saw me and were flapping up against the glass! It may sound crazy,but I wept and wept. It broke my heart. I became seriously ill and have not been well since. It is possible to form a bond with wild animals and birds, especially pigeons. This all happened about a month ago. I did keep a small feeder hanging from the porch, but every day it was being raided by the poor pigeons and wee Hamish. So I have decided to stop altogether. It’s not fair. It also means my neighbour opposite will have the birds back. He was complaining that the birds were not going to his feeder anymore. It got to the point I was feeling guilty about that too! Again I was putting out different types of food for certain birds and having the squirrel feeder meant the squirrels ignored the bird feeders altogether. They were hilarious to watch! So I feel very sad, not angry, just very tearful and devastated. I sat in my porch earlier with the back door open and a few little pigeons that remain came rushing over the minute they saw me. One cheeky one was up on my step. Had a cute little peck of the end of my finger that made me laugh. It’s sweet little face with little orange eyes, and those soft, gentle little pinky red feet! It seemed to like the sound of my voice. It’s never came so close. Its little head tilting as I spoke to it. It was desperately trying to get past me LOL and into my house! Very cheeky but very cute.


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