On chicken-food thieves

Do I look like a wild bird to you?

I am not sure of the percentage of feed we lose, but we do have a number of critters, other than the egg birds, who love chickenfeed. Ground squirrels and sparrows are the main culprits, but on Thursday, a pigeon showed up at the feed trough.

I was alerted to the fact by the chickens. My office (AKA the back porch) is adjacent to their run (AKA the back yard) and all day I heard the birds trill out their soft alarming whistle which says “Danger From Above! Take Cover!” Ever alert myself, I would run outside to see if a hawk was making a sweep. It took about six tries before I noticed that it was a pigeon, eager for their food.

Pigeons: Historically, they have been useful birds. “Rock dove” is their more traditional name. Their poop is a ready and good source of nitrogen, so many farmhouses had dovecotes stuck into the gables of the roofs of their buildings to encourage nesting and pooping. In France, they were even regulated: you had to be a noble to have a dovecote. They are also good eating (squab) but of course we are taught that they’re city rats with wings, so you won’t find squab at the A&P.

I showed the kid the bird, as she has an affinity for the Mo Willems books. “Notice the bands around his legs?” I asked. “He belongs to someone. He’s probably a homing pigeon who got run off course.” “Can we keep him?” she asked. I laughed. With food this easy to get, I told her, he might keep us.

9 responses to “On chicken-food thieves

  1. We raised pigeons when I was a kid, and they were certainly entertaining, what with the flying into the house to make nests and pooping everywhere. Eventually my brother was given license to terminate the flock with his BB gun, and it was a sad, disturbing and bloody day at the Shackelford homestead (in the suburbs of LA). We did not eat them, and some were the fan-tail variety, so it was kinda like killing kittens, since they were pretty, could not really fly away easily, and their pure white feathers made the wounds dark and dramatic.

    Out here in MI I might consider it again, but would have to have a pretty good reason. I don’t really want to repeat my history with those poor dumb birds.

  2. Thanks for the memory jolt. When my daughter was tiny she came running into the kitchen to tell me about a fancy bird at the feeder –I should come quickly to see it. It was a pigeon. She still loves pigeons.
    It’s funny how such a memory can bring such a smile to my day. Thank you.

  3. At our house the main chicken-food thieves are Mourning Doves and Grackles. The Grackles go after the dog food too!

  4. Great story…I can just picture you flying (ar ar) outside every time your hens gave their warning cry. What a sweet looking little culprit!

  5. We had that many doves coming in to our chooks (aussie slang for chickens) that we had to enclose our pen by netting over the top!


  6. At least it’s a good looking pigeon, right?!

  7. TS: We were at the Detroit Zoo not too long ago and they had red-spotted doves: I don’t think that’s what they are called, but the males had a bright red spot right in the middle of their breast. Very disturbing story! Poor birds. This guy seems pretty tame. I really do think he is lost otherwise I might not think he’s so cute because he would bring friends…

    Pamela: You’re welcome! What I think is great is the kid is telling everyone she meets about the pigeon.

    Hi, Ms Rurality! Tom keeps saying we need to get a Critter Cam like you, and I say “I don’t want to know what’s out there.” We’ve got mourning doves a plenty but our grackles don’t flock like they do down south (and yes I am grateful for that fact).

    Farmgirl: Oh yes, I was jumping up and down like an idiot that day. Luckily the chickens are used to him by now. It isn’t the best of pictures; he actually is a good-looking guy.

    Molly: that will teach them! I enclosed their pen over the winter to try to keep hawks out. The netting collapsed under a heavy snow one day. Sigh. I hope the pigeons don’t go beyond Bird One though.

    Katie, he is a handsome fellow. I think he’s pretty young. He certainly doesn’t have the city grit on him.

  8. Pidgie pidgie! Cute bird.

  9. That was a great story and its funny as well…Since you guys love pigeons, well some of you, you can join in to this website…


    So you can share your thoughts and opinions about our loving friends/pets/animals…

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