Hear me out: pigeons are actually really interesting

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/03/25/hear-me-out-pigeons-are-actually-really-interesting.html


Ever seen a pigeon baby?

I didn’t think so.


I see you might be down with Pigeonometry

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Dance Celebrate GIF by Sesame Street


Baby pigeon

There, now you have. I hope your life is better for the experience.


they still can’t drive the bus



HaHa! Better indeed. OMG that thing is something else! Wow.


Of course there’s a Casual Geographic


Came here for this, leaving satisfied.




I’m with you on this one.

When my son was 10, he told me he had a surprise for me, but we needed to go shopping for things. OK…

We went to an art supply store and got two small sketchbooks, some pencils, and some erasers. Then he led me to a little square where pigeons hung out, and we sat and watched pigeons. We drew what their tail feathers look like when perched (straight out back, rectangular) and what they look like on landing (abruptly spread out like a fan at the moment they change from “gliding” to “touchdown”). We drew the way they hold their necks when walking, and when they fly. We sketched how their wings fold, and how they extend, and how they scoop the air on take-off. We drew quick dots to show how they group, in threes or fives or more, in a line or facing each other, and how the groups change. And I walked away with a new-found appreciation for these under-appreciated birds. It was a really great day.


I’ve been converted to a pigeon fan over the years. After living with my girlfriend and her two pet pigeons for the last 6 years I’ve learned that they are cute, mild-mannered, intelligent, and endlessly entertaining pets, and far better suited to living with humans than the tropical birds that people normally think of as “normal” pets.

Funny enough, both me and my girlfriend grew up with domestic pigeons for different reasons. My parents trained hunting dogs, and they kept a small flock of pigeons that they would use to train pointing dogs. My girlfriend’s dad, on the other hand, had two white pigeons that were trained as a part of his magic act. Considering that pigeons have been domesticated for longer than any other bird and even the “wild” pigeons you see roaming cities are descended from domestic pigeons, it’s sad that people treat them with such disdain.

Pigeons and humans have a long history of friendship. Be nice to our oldest feathered friends!



Parrots are generally assholes.

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Not gonna lie, I’ve referred to this chart before when I was rolling up my pet pigeon to go to the vet.

The bird was not happy about being rolled up like a very angry pigeon joint.


I just want to add that pigeons regularly come into my work and sometimes crap on the shelves if they are there too long. (Not the reason I’ve been trying to get a Library Cat but I digress)


Don’t shout at them. Don’t flap things at them. Don’t wave and frighten them.

Be calm and kind and they are smart enough to fly out of the room that their curious selves got them into that isn’t really for them.

I swear they look like they appreciate the guidance too.

Consciousness is a continuum. Not an on/off yes/no thing.


As someone that lives with pigeons, here’s some tips I’ve picked up for walking around pigeons without startling them:

  • Slowly shuffle your feet. IE, don’t take big steps or lift your feet too high. It can scare or intimidate them.
  • Don’t look directly at them if you are trying to observe them. Look at them side eye, which is less intimidating.
  • Don’t sneak. Birds are super freaked out by anything that looks like it’s getting ready to pounce. “Just act natural” is the mantra when trying to get close to birds.
  • If you want the birds to move in an orderly way, your best bet is to hold your arms out to your sides a bit, and walk towards them slowly while making direct eye contact. This is basically pigeon body language for territorial behavior. It’s a pigeon way of saying “This is my spot, back off.” Odds are the pigeons will kind of stumble backwards, realize you are way bigger then they are, then turn to walk away.