0216, South Africa
Posted May 18, 2015
Some years ago I allowed myself to be smooth-talked into buying two very expensive racing pigeons from a local pigeon breeder, who if all the tales are to be believed, has no equal in the free world when it comes to breeding champion racing pigeons.
Nonetheless, for a while I even seriously believed that I would take up the hobby, but my first sight of the exhaused condition of pigeons as they arrived home after a 500 mile flight immediately disabused me of that notion. There was just no way I was going to subject my two pigeons to that kind of stress and punishment for the sake of a trophy (even a small one), and that was that.
Since my two pigeons were only a few weeks old when I got them, they had the best of food and accommodation to give them the best possible start in life, even if that life consisted of sitting on my roof the whole day. My two pigeons soon increased to three, then to five, and then to a small flock that seemed to regard their freedom as the greatest gift I could have bestowed on them. The never lived in a loft, or any other kind of captivity, and their numbers soon increased to around thirty or so.
Of course, the chickens, who have learned to respond to a whistle at feeding time, take great offense at the insolence of the pigeons, who have also learned to respond to the whistle, with the result that feeding times often result in sqaubbles and ruffled feathers. The pigeons have gotten into the habit of mobbing the chickens, who despite my best efforts, have refused to eat somewhere else. Their feeding spot is theirs by right of long useage, which is a fact the pigeons disregard with that haughty insolence that only pigeons are capable of.
At any rate, my pigeons are great pets. Although none of them are named, they don't seem to mind, as long as I have a crust of bread to offer them when I venture outside. One blow on my police whistle brings them hurting out of the sky, and there seems to be nothing more enjoyable for them to strut around me, as if to say " Look, we made it!" The cats, who like the chickens, often take offense at being mobbed, have caught some of the more imprudent youngsters, but have never killed one that I know of. I have found some young pigeons with seriously ruffled feathers and some bite marks, but never a pigeon killed by a cat.
Despite the presence of the cats, the pigeons will never hesitate to approach me when I am outside, and is if by some inter-species agreement, the cats will not harass the pigeons when they are with me, which keeps everyone happy. It goes without saying that there has been some interbreeding with other, less well-bred pigeons from the surrounding area, but that matters little to me. All my pigeons are tame, recognise me as their food-source, and that is all that matters. Of course, I have no idea what it takes to maintain a well-bred pigeon in racing trim and I don't care to know, but what I do know is that pigeons make excellent pets.
They are more intelligent than any other birds I have kept with the possible exception of my emus, that are intelligent enough in their emu-ish way, but based on my experience with my now more than 50 pigeons over several years, I have no hesitation in recommending pigeons as pets- even if they are not in racing trim. They may be finicky eaters, but if they are allowed to range freely, don't seem to mind not being fed racing-grade food, since they eat from the wild as well. I think pigeons make great pets, which is a relationship I would not trade for any number of trophies and blue ribbons.