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Modena Pigeon

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3.7/5

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Jim Gifford

Is the Modena Pigeon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: N/A

Scientific name: Columba livia domestica

The basics:
Many people consider the Modena Pigeon to be the world's top show pigeon. Most individuals are calm and gentle, so that they show well.

The story of the Modena begins in the early 1300s in Modena, Italy. At that time, the birds were actually a small, slim, performing breed that could fly in “kits,” teams of pigeons similar to what we see with the Birmingham Roller Pigeon today. The legend says that rival groups of pigeon fanciers would kidnap each other's pigeons, holding them for ransom or (perhaps) even attaching explosives to the birds before releasing them to fly home and destroy the enemy's loft. The method of kidnapping was simple, as a team of Modenas would fly to attract a distracted or lone pigeon, drawing the bird into their flock so that it would follow along to the team's loft. Over the centuries, the purpose of the birds changed, so that they were bred for color and shape, rather than banditry.

Appearance:
This large pigeon is bred to present a striking curvy shape with a prominent chest, uplifted wings, and a tail carried high, so that it gives the total impression of being round and proud. The English Modena Pigeon is bred specifically for color. There are two types - ”Schietti” which is a solid bird such as a pure bronze or pure red, or a ”Gazzi”, which is a pied bird, with a solid white body but colored head, tail, and wings.

Weight:
350 grams (12 oz.)

Average size:
24 centimeters (9.5 in.)

Lifespan:
7 - 10 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Modena Pigeon has a good reputation as a gentle aviary bird, although the occasional male has been described as aggressive, so keep your eyes open. As a stockier variety of pigeon, the pairs sometimes have fertility problems. If you have them in confined quarters for some reason, make sure the male actually has room to mount the female properly.

If you have a single pet Modena Pigeon, whether it's a retired show bird or simply a rescue bird, then be sure to hold back treat seeds to teach your pet to come to you on request. They start out naturally somewhat tame and confiding to human beings, so you can build on their natural instinct to trust you.

Housing:
The majority of Modena Pigeon keepers are breeders and exhibitors who keep their birds in a large outdoor loft. Talk to another breeder before you design your loft, and make sure that it is easy to clean and secure from mosquitoes, thieves, raccoons, and other predators that would like nothing better than to feast on a nice tasty pigeon. Have a minimum of 4 square feet of floor space for each pair. Yes, that does mean that an aviary 4 feet wide by 6 feet long houses a maximum of 12 birds. Pigeons are messy, and their droppings and feathers can accumulate, so don't take on a bigger job than you are sure you can manage.

It is worth noting that Modenas are not considered to be pushy pigeons, and that they have been recommended for mixed lofts. They can fly to a high perch, but they are content to take a lower spot if a more dominating breed wants to sit higher.

Modena Pigeons do bathe in water, so they should be allowed access to a shallow dog dish or similar bathing bowl to splash around in. Since pigeons lower the head to drink, they will need a deeper bowl for the drinking water.

Diet:
The Modena Pigeon can thrive on a relatively simple diet. Most people start with a high-quality pigeon mix from a well-regarded source. You may also mix in quality grains such as millet, barley, wheat, whole corn, dry peas, buckwheat, oats, and so on, either from a good feed store with fast turn-over or from a health food store. Special pellets formulated for pigeons can be used to supplement the diet, to ensure that your bird has enough vitamins and protein.

The short but stocky Modena Pigeon can be a big eater, with a strong appetite, especially during the breeding season. If you're hand-taming a special pet, you may want to hold back special high-fat treats like sunflower or safflower seed, to give to your pet by hand during the training and bonding process. Chopped greens like kale, dandelion greens, spinach, or fresh sprouts should be offered each day. Some people offer high beta carotene foods like finely chopped carrot or papaya.

Modena Pigeons need access to a high quality pigeon grit to help them digest the tough, uncooked grains they like to eat. A cuttlebone or another calcium source is also valuable. However, calcium may not be properly absorbed without sufficient vitamin D3 if your pigeon is an indoor pet. Therefore, it is important to choose a good avian supplement that includes D3.

Written by Elaine Radford