moon phase Week of 02/09/2003 Favorable days for harvest

If you live or work in one of the large cities in the U.S., most of the wild birds you see are house sparrows, starlings, and feral pigeons. All three were brought to the New World by European settlers. Regarding the house sparrow and starling, I wonder why the settlers would have revered these common birds so highly as to bring them on the long journey over the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps it was because sparrows and starlings roost and nest in buildings, and they are easy to catch. Or maybe the travelers brought them along as reminders of their homeland. Pigeons

It's easy for me to understand why the early settlers brought pigeons to the new land. Aside from being easy to raise and large enough to eat if need be, the dove-like pigeons are peaceful birds and just nice to have around. I doubt that the first flocks of wild pigeons were looked upon as vermin.

Today, rock doves (pigeons) have become so numerous that they can be found almost anywhere in North America. Any place there are structures made by people is a good place for pigeons to take up residence.

Most of the farms across America have at least a few pigeons living on them. The family farm is a perfect place for a small community of these social birds. The beams and rafters of a barn or shed make great spots to raise a family, as does the open top of a silo.

The downside is that hospitable open buildings lead to large numbers of pigeons, and their droppings become a health hazard which must be dealt with. Sadly, though they mean no malice, the birds become a nuisance simply because they are such successful settlers.

The pigeon may not be the most numerous bird in North America, but it is probably the one most often noticed by people. It seems that wherever you find people, you'll find pigeons, and these days there are people just about everywhere. For example, many roads and rivers across this country have bridges passing over them. A good number of these are home to pigeons - I like to call them "bridge-pigeons." Think how many bridges there are in the U.S., altogether. If even half of these bridges have pigeons living under them, that's a lot of birds. Add all the pigeons living on farms, as well as in nearly every village, town, and city in the nation, and the number is staggering.

These beautiful birds come in an assortment of colors. They can have feathers that are all white, all black, blue or brown. Most birds sport a combination of colors, which makes each unique. In fact, one of the reasons that people enjoy raising pigeons is that they can tell one from another and it becomes easy to give them names.

I've had an interest in pigeons since I was a boy. At a young age I discovered that it was easy to obtain a few pigeons as long as I could climb to them. That was no problem, because climbing seemed to come naturally for me. So I'd watch to find out where they were roosting - usually the loft of an old barn or building. Then at night, with the aid of a small flashlight, I would grab them by hand from their perches.

To this day I enjoy raising a small flock of pigeons just to have them around. Their gentle ways and soothing coos help give my place the laid-back, friendly and peaceful atmosphere I like.

It doesn't take much to build a small coop for a few pigeons, and it gives them a safe place to sleep and raise their young. I let the birds out to fly around during the day; each night they are shut in so that they are safe from predators. Hand-raised pigeons become very friendly, and in no time they will eat from a waiting hand full of cracked corn or hulled sunflower seeds. When guests come to visit, they maybe greeted by some wild birds that will eat right from your hand.

I've always thought that we can learn from these social birds. They get along with each other, as well as with other birds and animals around them (including humans.) They find food together, bathe and eat together, and keep watch for each other. They find companionship and safety in their close-knit communities.

It's a good feeling to know that they trust me enough to fly up to me. In their cooing, they tell me they trust me, and in turn, they receive my respect.

All art ©2013 Organic Valley

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