American Pigeon Journal
February 1989, page 30.
The Historical Link Between Pigeons and People.
by Robert J. Mangile
It was a humid day in August and the temperature was over 100 degrees. From inside the loft I heard someone yelling, ... "Is anybody home?" I quickly wrote down the band number of the squab I had just banded and headed for the loft door. Blood was running down my cheek from a long scratch accidentally inflicted by a bird that dashed from a head-level nest when I reached for its squabs. Feathers were in my hair and stuck to my shirtless, sweaty body. My shoes were laden with fresh droppings and enough feathers to instill envy in a champion English Trumpeter; and my hands and trousers were covered with dung. I exited the loft yelling .. "Yeah, out here!" ... and began rubbing my hands in the grass to remove the dung.
Looking up, I saw a man standing there in total amazement with his mouth agape. Composing himself "without" offering a handshake - he said: "My newspaper sent me down here to do a story about pigeon people. Can you supply some information Please?" "I'll try. What do you wish to know?", ... I replied. "Well, we thought that profiling the personality of a pigeon fancier would make a human interest story."
"Well Sir", I began ... "you are a classic Joe Public, always trying to figure why people do things instead of why things attract people! Instead of profiling the fancier, try profiling the pigeons! Consider the uniqueness of pigeons, as compared to other birds that live within the proximity of Man. They are rather large and are among the most powerful flying birds in the World. Unlike many secretive and/or restless species, they can be observed for long periods of time with the naked eye - while at rest or during their courtship displays on a rooftop, gathering food in parks and streets, or nesting on building ledges and beneath bridges. Their flight is generally in long stretches and not short flights from tree to tree like many smaller, less visible bird species."
"People who feed them regularly, soon learn that pigeons are punctual and trusting. By using Nature's internal time clock, they gather on schedule at feeding places; and, with patience they can be induced to take food directly from the human hand. Their individual personalities and physical differences may be recognized through daily association, that otherwise would go unnoticed. Such variation is perhaps one of the most alluring aspects that spawned the historical link between Pigeon and Man."
"Pigeons are year-round residents (non-migratory) and Man has learned that they return to the place where they were raised; whether it be a box nailed under the eaves of a shed, in barn lofts, attics, or protected ledges and cavities. Once established the site becomes a permanent location for nesting, which offers casual observations on their daily activities. By supplying additional nesting places, feed and water, a person can exert increasing control on their activities."
"Presently, pigeon fanciers maintain a variety of over 300 breeds as captives in specially built pens or buildings (called lofts). So interconnected are the fanciers lives with the welfare of their pigeons that a life without pigeons becomes unthinkable. At this point Man does not control the pigeons, .... they control Man!"
"Clues as to why some people keep pigeons are few; but, pigeon fanciers tend to agree that the love affair usually begins during ones youth. The absolute love for the bird is uncontrollable and after 50 or 60 years of keeping pigeons, all efforts to gain public understanding of their incurable love for pigeons has long been abandoned."
The reporter breaks-in, ... "I agree that pigeons are unique but I don't know if I can convey to our readers why some people love them. People can understand the love for one's children or spouse, but, ... pigeons!"
Smiling..., I patted his shoulder with my "grass-cleaned hand", ... as he cringed. "Do you have children?" ... I asked. Returning a big smile he said, "Yeah.... wanna see their photos!" As we both reached for our wallets, I asked, "Try explaining to me why you love them."
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