Animalogy: Primate Basics by Bassam Imam - HTML preview

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than

females’

territories.

In

addition,

males’

42

territories extend into females’ territories. Urine marking (of the hands), vocalization and grooming are important behaviours.

Senegal Bushbaby females generally give birth to singles or

twins following a 4 month gestation period. Infants cling onto the mother while she travels. However, they are nested while the mother forages. Maximum lifespan in captivity is 10 years. As with other primate species, life in the wild is almost always shorter.

Senegal Bushbabies primarily eat insects, but will also eat

fruits, flowers, gum and sap, seeds, flowers and young birds, small birds and eggs.

The Senegal Bushbaby is relatively common and has a broad range. There are no serious dangers to this species. However, there wild cats, birds of prey and snakes in the respective habitats can pose a serious danger to individuals. The pet trade in these species is limited. The IUCN has listed the SBB as Least Concern.

Zanzibar Bushbaby (Galago zanzibaricus) inhabits a variety of forest types in a relatively broad range exclusively on Zanzibar Island in Tanzania. This species is generally not found in the lower canopy.

Zanzibar Bushbabies tend to have a brown-coloured coat. The

eyes are big and designed for nocturnal life. The ears can be moved or bent independently, an incredible insect hunting tool.

In addition, the sense of hearing is of high quality. Maximum weight for the Zanzibar Bushbaby is 11 lbs. Dangers to ZB

include

habit

loss,

habitat

alteration

and

agricultural

expansion. The IUCN has listed the ZB as Least Concern.

Horsefield’s Tarsier or Western Tarsier (Tarsius bancanus) inhabits primary and secondary forest, on the coasts and on the peripheral of plantations on Borneo, Sumatra and several other islands.

Horsefield’s Tarsier coat is predominately gray, brown or brown tinged with gray. This is a tiny primate generally not exceeding 5 oz. with sexual dimorphism apparent. It has a tail that is almost twice as long as the head and body. The rear legs are long and powerful. Its eyes are quite large relative to body size.

Horsefield’s Tarsier possesses grooming claws and pads on the tips of the fingers. However, this species does not possess a tapetum lucidum.

Horsefield’s

Tarsier

is

nocturnal

and

predominately

arboreal, seldom descending to the ground. It moves through the forest by vertical clinging and then leaping. This species is very proficient at leaping. It can turn its head 180 degrees.

Horsefield’s Tarsier mating system is monogamous and

polygynous, depending on food availability. Females usually give 43

birth to 1 infant following a gestation period of 6 months. The mother is highly protective of its infant until it attains maturity. They will do whatever it takes to defend their infant.

HT primarily eats insects but will also eat bats, small mammals, birds and small reptiles. This species pounces on its prey, eating it from the head down. Dangers to Horsefield’s Tarsier include habitat loss, palm oil industry, pet trade, pesticides, and unjustifiable retaliation killings for perceived crop raiding. The IUCN has listed the HT as Vulnerable.

Dian’s Tarsier or Diana’s Tarsier (Tarsius dentatus)

inhabits primary and secondary forests in the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Dian’s Tarsier coat is predominately greyish-brown or

brownish yellow-coloured with some white-coloured hair on the face. The tail which is longer than the head and body is typically free of hair except a tuft on the tip. The eyes are big and have a stationary gaze (inability to shift in any direction). Luckily, this species has the remarkable ability to turn its head 180 degrees.

Dian’s Tarsier is nocturnal, arboreal and moves through the

forest by vertical clinging and leaping. This species also moves quadrupedally.

Dian’s

Tarsier

lives

in

small

groups

generally

not

exceeding individuals.

Dian’s

Tarsier

mating

system

can

be

monogamous

or

polygamous depending on the circumstances.

Dian’s Tarsier primarily eats insects but also eats small animals. Dangers include habitat loss, pesticides, pet trade, retaliation killings for crop raiding, and domestic pets. The IUCN has listed the Dian’s Tarsier as Vulnerable.

Below are is a list of some of the problems and issues facing primates in the wild and in captivity:

-General habitat destruction

-Habitat fragmentation

-Habitat conversion

-Agricultural expansion

-Slash-and-burn practices

-Hunting (Sport and non-sport)

-Trapping (target or non-target animals)

-Bush meat

-Wars, civil wars and civil disturbance.

-Traditional or folk medicine

-Antagonistic superstitions

-Pet trade

-Vivisection

-Mining (miners and migrant workers)

44

-Logging

-Pollution

-Pesticides

-Road Kill

-Natural Predators

-Electrocution

-Human settlement expansion

-Significant population growth of species

-Significant decline of species population

-Translocation of the species

-Overconsumption of food supply by the species

-Loss of a keystone species in a particular habitat

- Natural or artificial introduction of a new species into a particular

-Retaliatory killings for actual or perceived crop raiding.

-Discovery of a new species, sub-species, or discovery of an additional population of a known species.

-Classification and naming of a new species or sub-species.

-IUCN and CITES classification system.

-Funding (where applicable)

-Publishing literature pertaining to the species.

-Advertising a cause (in particular a SOS regarding an

Endangered or Critically Endangered Species.

-Captive Breeding

-Re-introduction programs

-Rehabilitation programs

-Rescue centers and orphanages.

-Zoos

-Circuses

-Roadside menageries

-Entertainment industry

45

ANIMALOGY: PIGEON BASICS

Pigeons form the bird family Columbidae in the order

Columbiform.

Often

times,

the

word

‘pigeon’

and

dove

are

used

interchangeably. Technically, doves are the smaller of the two (up to 1 ft. long) and pigeons are the larger (can reach upwards of 2.5 ft.). In addition, doves are even gentler than pigeons. I shall use the terms interchangeably, though.

Descendants of Rock Pigeons are those most commonly seen in

urban areas. I shall use the term ‘urban pigeon’ often when referring to pigeons within towns, cities, villages or in any other human settlements. Pigeons were first used as food; the service to humans was added later.

Pigeons are amiable, smooth and sweet voiced, and can be wild or domesticated. These incredible birds have reached the ends of the Earth, except for the Polar Regions and the hottest 46

and most torturous of desert areas. Over 300 species of pigeons have been identified.

Sixty to seventy percent of pigeon species are found within

south-eastern Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australia. The rest are scattered throughout much of the world, depending on the

‘tolerance level’ of the human community, pigeons have taken residence in many cities and towns. Our buildings and homes make good perching and nesting sites, considering these places resemble rocky ledges and inland cliffs.

Pigeons are quite versatile, they can be found in

woodlands, jungles, urban areas, open fields, farmlands and scrub deserts.

Pigeons are very sociable birds. It is common to find more than one species within a flock.

Pigeons are likely humans’ oldest domestic bird. Urban

pigeons have lived near humans for at least 5000 years. They were important to the Sumerians where lifelike images of pigeons were drawn or moulded into figurines, associated with the Mother Goddess.

Similar beliefs extended to Crete, Cyprus, were manifested in Roman coins and were part of the Greco-Roman society.

The

Sumerians

bred

white

doves

from

wild

pigeon

populations.

White

doves

were

considered

sacred

by

ancient

civilizations, at times even worshipped.

Mentioned in the Old Testament, it is believed that the Prophet Noah had a dove of peace. A reference to the white dove was also made in the New Testament. It is believed by some to be a symbol of the Holy Spirit. White doves are also a symbol of peace. A pair of white doves, male and female, still signifies love.

Carrier pigeons were used by the ancient Egyptians and

Persians.

The ancient Greeks used carrier pigeons to communicate the names of the winners of the Olympics. The Romans, including but not limited to Julius Caesar used carrier pigeons during wartime. In addition, the Romans ate and bred pigeons.

King Solomon used pigeons to carry important messages.

Aristotle wrote about the 5 pigeon breeds of pigeons in his book History of Animals. Cyrus the Great used pigeons to report the outcome of wars. Ancient Egyptians ate pigeons.

One of the uses of pigeons is pigeon post; birds, primarily

pigeons carry mail. These were in effect, homing pigeons, descendants of the Rock pigeon. They’d been earnestly bred to travel extremely long distances and successfully return.

Pigeons are friendly, loyal and passive. There’s hardly a case example of a pigeon attacking a human. In fact, if you ever 47

feed pigeons and there are gulls and squirrels in the group, the gulls will be the most aggressive towards the other animals.

However, gulls are also the most weary and apprehensive of humans. Squirrels can get a bit aggressive towards pigeons when being fed together. But then, individual pigeons can become a bit belligerent if being fed in a large group. This is normal behaviour for most animals.

In many countries pigeons are given no mercy at whatsoever.

They are considered food or outright pests to be stomped on, kicked or used for target practice.

A repulsive act by urban pigeons is their often-times

filthy eating behaviour; in cities they’ve been observed eating garbage and even vomit. When eating this filth they walk or wade in it, too. Otherwise, they can eat bread, cereals, cake, crackers, fruits, popcorn, seeds and grains, and potato chips.

Some pigeon species also eat insects, worms and snails.

Urban pigeons sometimes get their feet tangled in human garbage; usually stringy articles. In this scenario they’re unable to fly. This is a death-knell.

But, the biggest predator to urban pigeons is the

automobile followed by the bicycle. That is, of course, if there isn’t a city pigeon culling operation underway.

When urban pigeons eat they often become over-absorbed,

completely blocking out their surroundings. Urban pigeons that are used to human handouts lose much of their flight response.

Pedestrians will notice that they can bob and weave around pigeons. However, if you walk directly into a path of a group of pigeons they’ll disperse.

However, loud and unusual noises, especially when sudden, create an instant fear and flight response.

Back to the automobile; food dispersed near parked cars poses a great danger to urban pigeons. Pigeons perceive the automobile as an inanimate object. When the driver returns to his/her car, starts it and then drives off, well ... squash.

This results in many fatalities.

Other fatalities occur in the middle of the street.

Usually, the pigeon/s is eating. The driver usually doesn’t see the pigeons in time or cannot evade them for personal safety reasons. But there is a category of drivers that actually speeds up in order to squash as many pigeons as possible. Thankfully, the latter category is in the minority.

If you take regular walks in an area that contains a

healthy population of pigeons you’ll also see dead or wounded pigeons on the sidewalk. Cyclists and people pushing carts or strollers squash pigeons. Pigeons are easily squashed. If you’ve ever seen a severely injured pigeon chances are it has been disembowelled. Leg injuries are also common. One severely 48

injured leg will destroy the flying and walking abilities of any pigeon. In this case scenario, the pigeon, unless rescued by a human/s will almost definitely die soon.

Dogs, cats, raccoons and other predators find the maimed pigeon an easy delightful meal. In ‘the wild’ there’s no such thing as mercy during mealtime.

Urban pigeons must also endure rocks and kicks by kids or sadistic adults. In the wild, pigeons must be on the lookout for falcons, hawks and owls.

Thankfully, in Montreal (my home town) most of our city dwellers have no need or urge to harm pigeons. As a whole, though, we tend to be good pigeon feeders. Pigeons are almost always hungry eating just about anything they are handed. I don’t blame them. They have high metabolic rates, as do most flying bird species.

Individuals and flocks of pigeons often congregate around certain areas known to be feeding spots. Urban pigeons manifest themselves just after dawn when the sun has lit up ‘your city’

and they begin their ‘disappearing act’ between late afternoon and pre-dusk. It’s unusual to see a pigeon after dark. But if you do see one it’s likely sick or injured.

Frequently, pigeon populations in urban areas increase to a

nuisance level. Too much poop in the parks, on vehicles and especially in balconies can drive people crazy. In addition, flocks or individuals may converge in walkways or on sidewalks.

Urban pigeons tend to reproduce all-year-round. They have no concept of birth control.

Pigeon mating is monogamous, ‘milking’ and caring is done by both parents. Breeding can begin at 6 months of age. Lifespan is quite variable, depending on circumstances. However, 15 years would be extraordinary (but does occur) for an urban pigeon considering the plethora of surrounding dangers.

Pigeons love balconies. If they keep returning to the same spot without being forced or shooed away, the balcony will become a place for pooping, mating and nesting. This is a common occurrence in urban areas. Apartment dwellers and owners can use non-lethal methods of repulsion. Pigeons feel right at home near humans.

A few years ago I witnessed an unusual scene in my friend’s

balcony (he lived in the same apartment building). A pair of pigeons had built a nest derived from their own poop. The concierge (custodian) took care of the problem. I never found out how or what he did. That’s something to ponder about.

Thankfully, there are humane solutions to the pigeon over-population

problem.

If

used

properly

and

under

ideal

circumstances OvoControl efficiently controls the reproduction 49

of effected birds. Any community that needs to reduce its pigeon population can use OvoControl.

OvoControl is specially designed bait that adversely

affects the hatchability of pigeon eggs. Fertile pigeons lay 2

white eggs on a cliff; if in the city likely a balcony or other high post within a building. Nests are fragile.

The chicks will hatch roughly 2 or 3 weeks later. Both parents feed the chicks with a curd-like substance formed in their crops. The chicks stick their heads into their parent’s (mother or father) mouth then the parent regurgitates the curd-like substance.

Newborns are blind, featherless and defenceless, needing

their parents in order to survive.

I will point out a few important points regarding

OvoControl as sent to me by a representative of Arizona Wings N’Stings LLC-Bird, Bee and Bat Control Specialists. I have paraphrased what was sent to me from this company. In all honesty, their response to my email inquiry was lightning-fast.

-OvoControl comes in 30 lbs. bags.

-OvoControl is used straight. There is no mixing of this product with any food items.

-OvoControl is not like Avitrol.

-The bait is a restricted use only product; it is used to help reduce egg hatchability in pigeons.

-The pigeons must continue to consume the bait to remain sterile.

-An interruption of 30 days use of the bait will result in the pigeons to become fertile again thereby hatching eggs.

-An automated feeder is placed on a secure flat rooftop location.

-The timer is set to dispense around 10 ounces of bait per 25 pigeons out about 20 feet from the feeder 7 days a week.

-The dispenser can hold 90 lbs. of OvoControl P bait.

-Several feeders should be placed for larger flocks. This will better ensure that the pigeons feed evenly.

Other

methods

of

pigeon

population

control

include

poisoning, narcotics, shooting, anti-roosting spikes. These spikes can work for decades.

Culling or shooting of pigeons is often ineffective as

pigeon population control. Sometimes, this method may aggravate the problem; causing a rejuvenation in the population.

A method first initiated by The Pigeon Control Advisory Service International (PiCAS) involves the use of artificial breeding facilities. By all accounts this appears to be an 50

effective method of Pigeon Control. It can be done in one of two ways; using a pigeon loft or a dovecote.

Both methods involve the encouragement of pigeons to roost and breed in the specially designed breeding facilities.

Therein, the eggs are snatched as soon as they hatch and then promptly replaced with ‘dummy eggs’. Note: Sometimes there is a condition referred to as ‘egg-bound’. The egg is stuck inside the pigeon. DO NOT try to remove the egg! If it cracks it will likely have fatal consequences.

The object is to get the roosting pigeon to sit on its eggs

for as long as possible. The target is 25 days. When the pigeon realizes that her eggs won’t hatch, she’ll restart her egg laying cycles.

In brief, a pigeon loft is an artificial pigeon housing unit that is usually built on a building, but can also be located indoors. A dovecote is stationed in an open area surrounded by greenery. Unlike in urban areas pigeon lovers are encouraged to feed pigeons. The idea is to entice the pigeons into the dovecotes where they can roost, thereby removing and then replacing their eggs. In some jurisdictions, heavy fines are imposed on persons who feed the pigeons outside of designated areas.

Often times, it is a few die-hard pigeon lovers who bombard

pigeons with food on a daily or regular basis. The pigeons in turn will breed more and converge in flocks upon the feeding sites.

Pigeons have been slaughtered wholesale, for fun in pigeon shoots and in acts of outright extermination. The Dodo Bird and the Passenger Pigeon are the 2 saddest stories in the annals of bird history. I shall briefly describe what happened to each of the now extinct pigeon species. The Dodo or Dodo Bird is related to the pigeon.

No doubt, the saddest most depressing example of wildlife obliteration in North America is the case of the Passenger Pigeon.

At one time, the Passenger Pigeon was the most numerous bird species in North America. It is estimated that there were billions of them.

Flocks would darken skies hours on end. There are however, accounts of darkened skies that last more than an entire day.

Passenger Pigeons would perch on trees with such enormous numbers that branches would actually collapse from the sheer weight. This is incredible considering the ‘feather weight’ of pigeons. I can’t imagine how large the flock would have to be to collapse a tree branch.

51

Prior

to

the

destruction

of

the

Passenger

Pigeon’s

ecosystems they had a plethora of food supply within America’s vast forests.

Maximum speed for Passenger Pigeons is estimated to be 70

mph. This however wasn’t fast enough to escape the brutality of humans.

The major causes of the collapse of this remarkable bird species are mass deforestation, human settlement expansion, poisonings, human encroachment and ‘gone-crazy hunting’.

Settlers had effective weapons at their disposal including firearms, nets, long sticks (used to knock pigeons off of trees), toxic fumes (to make pigeons dizzy and fall onto the forest floor) and the snatching of birds’ eggs. In addition, pigeons that fell onto the forest floor and squabs (young pigeons; Adolph Hitler loved the taste of squabs) were

wholeheartedly eaten by wolves, foxes, predatory birds, snakes and other predators.

Individuals involved in the mass Passenger Pigeon slaughter were, as a whole apathetic, selfish, greedy and had no inkling of what conservation meant. Quick and easy food and money were strong motivators.

Massive quantities of Passenger Pigeons were sold on the open market. The flesh was cheap, tasty and plentiful.

The 19th century was the most catastrophic for the Passenger

Pigeon. Frivolous and unenforced conservation laws were too little too late. People involved in the pigeon slaughter simply ignored the protection laws (when they were finally passed).

Using hindsight, the end result was inevitable; extinction!

The last surviving Passenger Pigeon, named Martha, died at the age of 29 at the Cincinnati Zoological Garden. She died in front of a small crowd of people. From what I know, hardly a tear was shed.

The Mauritius Dodo or more commonly referred to as the Dodo

Bird or Dodo was an inhabitant of Mauritius.

The Portuguese sailors arrived in Mauritius in 1598. They came across the Dodo Bird. The name Dodo is Portuguese for foolish or ignorant. Later, Dutch settlers arrived on the island.

Tragically, no later than 1690, the last Dodo Bird had died. This relative of the pigeon had endured an extermination campaign.

Although distant ancestors of this bird were able to fly, the Dodo Bird was flightless. Having lived on Mauritius for many generations and without having any predators therein caused it to lose its flight instinct. In addition, there was plenty of bird food on the island.

52

Another problem was that Dodo Birds’ nests were located on the ground. Introduced predators ate or trampled on nest eggs.

Flying takes up an enormous amount of energy for most

birds. Therefore, it was inevitable that one generation after another would fail to fly. In addition, the Dodo Bird was quite large and plump; a good food source for hungry sailors and settlers.

Settlers and sailors had easy pickings. By the way, Dodos weren’t simpletons. They were intelligent birds. The settlers and sailors considered these birds stupid but in reality it was that they (the birds) were so trusting of humans. These birds were usually killed in the cheapest manner; they were clubbed to death.

The introduction by humans of cats, rats, pigs and dogs guaranteed an irreversible death knell for the Dodo Bird’s existence.

The Dodo Bird may have been instrumental in sustaining the Calvarias Tree. Immediately after the extermination of the Dodo Bird this tree stopped sprouting seeds. The Dodo Bird’s eating of the fruits of the tree wore down the outer layer of the pit, thereby allowing it to sprout. Although this bit of information is contested by some scientists I believe it to be true.

Removing a species from an ecosystem will alter it, often times adversely.

Pigeon shoots are organized activities perceived by the

participants and organizers as fun and sport.

However, animal protectionists beg to differ. Case in

point, Pennsylvania pigeon shoots.

Pennsylvania pigeon shoots involve the shooting of up to 15000 pigeons in a 3-day period. All of the shot pigeons do not die instantly. On the contrary, many pigeons sustain painful debilitating injuries. Many of them are left to die others are collected by ‘trapper boys’. Their job is to kill the pigeons by breaking their necks, step on them, rip them apart, suffocate them or slice off their heads. Other means of killing can be used if needed.

Many of these pigeons are caught weeks before the shoots.

When shooting time comes they’re let out from a trap box very near the shooters.

The pigeons are usually half-starved, dehydrated, dazed and confused. Upon release their natural instinct is to fly away.

Almost all states in the union have outlawed pigeon shoots.

We need to extend this ‘outlawing’ to Pennsylvania. Organized pigeon shoots are not sporting events.

Pigeons have served man in some spheres, including but not limited to war. They were an important ‘participant’ in wars, with an estimated 100,000 used in the First World War an (95

53

percent success rate in sending important messages, often-times life saving) and an estimated 250,000 used by the British alone in the Second World War. The Air Ministry Pigeon Section was maintained by the British during the Second World War and extending afterwards. Therein, a Pigeon Policy Committee was responsible for deciding specified pigeon use.

In addition, the Dickin Medal, the highest honour and

decoration of valour for animals was established in 1943 by Maria Dickin. During the Second World War 32 pigeons received the Dickin Medal.

During the war the Allies and Axis powers understood that pigeons were an integral part of conveying important, life-saving messages. Often-times these birds were the only means of communication on the front lines. Headquarters were many miles away and especially in the case of the First World War technology was crude. So much so, many planes and warships carried pigeons. Photos were taken by military pigeons.

The two most important animals used in the Second World War

were pigeons and dogs. Pigeons however, could move much faster, longer distances, had incredible homing abilities and were often difficult targets to shoot. Both animals are honoured for their heroism.

Cher Ami and G.I. Joe are the most famous allied war

pigeons. Homing pigeons that carry messages are referred to as carrier pigeons.

Cher Ami was a registered Black Check Cock carrier pigeon used by the US Army Signal Corps in France. His assigned duty was to send significant messages inside the American designated area in Verdun.

But it wasn’t until October 1918 that Cher Ami’s true

heroism would be manifested.

Cher Ami helped save 194 soldiers belonging to the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division in the Battle of the Argonne.

Initially 500 soldiers were trapped behind enemy lines,

unable to advance or retreat with limited food and ammunition.

To aggravate the situation, they began to be shelled by friendly fire but there was no way to contact their compatriots. In two days more than 60 percent of the original soldiers had already been killed.

The first two pigeons to be sent off by Lt. Colonel Charles

Whittlesey were shot down. The third pigeon, Cher Ami, had a message capsule tied to his leg.

In spite of being shot in the chest and leg the message still got through; it was dangling from a wounded leg. The wounded leg was attached to the body only by a single tendon.

The mission was accomplished! 194 soldiers were saved.

54

Cher Ami was sent back to America and eventually became the

mascot of the Department of Service. In addition, he received the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War).

Cher Ami died on June 13, 1919 in Fort Monmouth New Jersey.

A taxidermist preserved Cher Ami’s body where it can be viewed at

the

National

Museum

of American

History,

Smithsonian

Institute in Washington, D.C.

G.I. Joe was a pigeon war hero during the Second World War.

He served in the United States Army Pigeon Service. His most valorous act was helping to save the citizens of Calva Vecchia in Italy, and the British troops occupying the village.

A scheduled bombardment of the village by the Allies on October 18, 1943 was barely averted by a message sent attached to G.I. Joe informing the Allies that Calva Vecchia had in fact been occupied by British troops.

As a result, G.I. Joe received the Dickin medal by the Lord

Mayor of London.

G.I. Joe died at the age of eighteen at the Detroit

Zoological Gardens. He can now be seen on display at the U.S.

Army at the U.S. Army Communications Electronics Museum at Fort Monmouth.

Pigeons ‘home-in’ by using the sun, stars, roads and other landmarks, magnetic field detection and olfactory navigation.

Pigeon racing involves the use of intensely trained

pigeons. Each and every racing pigeon must have the necessary homing abilities otherwise it will not be able to complete the race. Pigeons have been clocked at 90 to 100 mph or faster.

The distance of each race is intricately measured. The

amount of time it takes each pigeon to complete the span of the race determines its speed. Naturally, the pigeon with the fastest speed is the winner, or I should say ‘the owners are the winners’ since many races are either prized or wagers are cast.

Naturally, the pigeon never gets paid. But in all fairness, many other races are done for the sheer joy and sport of it.

Above all else, even the prize is the treatment of the pigeons. Racing pigeons must be properly fed, watered (they can suck up water like us), allowed spacious loft housing and should be able to fly around other than in races. Otherwise, the pigeon is basically a prison worker for hire.

A ‘Racing Homer’ is a domestic breed of pigeon that has been bred for sharp homing abilities, speed and incredible endurance. Pigeon races of over 800 miles have been recorded.

Sadly, many people have labelled these athletes ‘flying rats’.

A few facts pertaining to keeping pigeons and homing

pigeons in general:

55

-Racing pigeons should be housed in a loft located in the place where the race ends.

-Training of racing pigeons should be gradual; distances should be lengthened until reaching the target and the end of the race or flight must be in the home loft.

-Lofts must be diligently cleaned daily.

-Clean and fresh food and water should be available daily.

Nest bowls or an easy access drip system is necessary.

-The food should be the correct type and nutritious. Sick animals may need a special diet.

-Excessive food and water left out for too long may rot (if

applicable) or may become coated or engulfed with droppings.

-The face of the building should be kept open giving the pigeons’ adequate fresh air and sunlight. In cases of extreme weather the primary objective is to protect all the pigeons.

-Place food and water inside the loft, not on top of it or beside it. The object is to get the pigeons accustomed to eating indoors. In effect, they will associate the interior of the loft with security, food and water.

-If training your pigeons do so with the loft door open.

-Living quarters should not be cramped.

-If training your pigeons leave a nice treat inside the loft to be eaten upon returning from the trip.

-Trainers can condition the pigeons to return to a treat by

rattling a metallic object when treats are awaiting them.

Whatever ‘sound’ that is made should be consistent. Changing sounds regularly will confuse the pigeons.

-If possible, remove obstacles from your pigeons’ immediate flight path. These obstacles could become a serious danger.

-Do not over-satiate your pigeons before a race. But do make sure that they’ve been fed and watered well.

-The pigeon owner or attendant must always treat the

pigeons kindly, becoming their human friend.

-Loft should be faced towards sunlight.

-Ventilation is essential at all times.

-Elevated loft reduces likelihood of dampness.

-The attendant should have full control over entrance. You may need to close the entrance and lock it for emergency purpose. Otherwise, a trap and landing board and an entrance that should accommodate 1 pigeon at a time is preferable.

Pigeons are territorial regarding their perching sites,

therefore, it is preferable that you have more than 1 perching site per pigeon.

-Flooring material should not easily blow into the air.

-The pigeon owner or attendant must keep a keen eye for sickness or unusual behaviour.

56

Food and water should only be accessed by your pigeons, otherwise predators or vermin may appear.

-Identification

of

pigeons

is

important

(leg

bands

containing

basic

information).

In

addition,

information

regarding number of pigeons, age and gender, time of birth, general health, flight dates and distances, times, can be recorded in a secure system (hard drive, draft, etc.).

-No overcrowding.

-Purchase all equipment and food from reputable dealers.

Ask about their money back guarantee policy; see it in writing.

Get references beforehand, if possible.

-Catching, trapping and general handling of pigeons must always be delicate. They are very light in weight and delicate in physiology.

-Pigeons should be held gently but securely with one hand.

The front part of the pigeon should be in the palm of the hand.

The thumb and fingers should encompass the body. Be careful, the leg bones are extremely fragile.

-Sudden loud noises or sudden moves will startle pigeons.

-Racing pigeons are very fast. 100 mph is not an impossible

feat for an ‘athletic’ racing or homing pigeon. But as fast as they are, they cannot escape bird hunters, the peregrine falcon, and other birds of prey.

-Raising your hands above your head or otherwise making yourself appear larger may scare the pigeons.

-Watch out for animal predators (domestic and wild). As far

as they’re concerned your pigeons are roast turkeys, delicious and free.

-Decisions must be made regarding sterilization or allowing for mating. If the latter, you should have a game plan regarding mating pairs and for the proper care and handling of eggs and squabs.

-What to do with overly sick pigeons. If racing pigeons, what to do with individuals that can’t make the grade.

-If purchasing pigeons ensure that the breeder is sincere and not an under-handed criminal type.

-Obey the laws of your jurisdiction pertaining to the

keeping of live pigeons.

-First Aid and veterinary medical care are necessary; if you truly love your pigeons and are willing to sacrifice for them.

-Pigeons love to water bathe.

Below is important information regarding pigeon breeding:

-Cross Breeding: The breeding of pigeons that are un-

related. Some experts recommend 5 generations or more.

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-Line Breeding: The breeding of pigeons that are related but

not

to

the

extent

of

inbreeding;

grandparent/s

to

grandchildren or cousins.

-In Breeding: In human terms, it is incest. This kind of breeding ensures sought after traits, whether they be physical appearance or abilities. Unfortunately, with In Breeding genetic abnormalities and other problems may also be inherited; the likelihood is noticeably increased.

-Bull Method or Bull Breeding: A male with particular

traits is ‘allowed’ to breed with multiple females.

-Good record keeping is essential.

-Pigeons are racing & sporting types (races, aerial

performances),

fancy

types

(particular

physical

features)

utility types (bred solely for food), or as companion animals (pets).

-All females and males may not be willing to breed with each other. If needed contact a pigeon behaviourist or a trusted individual who can give you good advice if your efforts fail.

However, below are a few steps to take that may alleviate this particular problem.

-If the male pigeon is aggressive or belligerent towards the female DO NOT place them together inside a cage; place them next to each other in a pairing cage. A pairing cage is a large bird cage divided into two halves.

-The partition material should contain plexiglass, plywood and wire mesh.

-It is important to place food and water bowls for each gender beside each other but in the designate half of each pigeon.

-Both pigeons should be able to see, hear and smell each other. In addition, both pigeons will become accustomed to being so near the other.

-Within a few days or several days they should become

‘friends’ of sorts.

-Use your instincts, sense of observation and common sense.

When it becomes apparent that both pigeons are comfortable being so close to each other remove the barrier. If everything goes fine they’ll mate with each other.

There are people who eat pigeons, claiming that killing can

be done by:

-Hunting rifle (hunter may be accompanied by a trained dog)

-BB gun or pellet gun

-Bow and arrow

-Miniature cross bow

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-Rifle

-Snaring

-Baiting

-Trapping

-Netting

-Twisting or yanking off the head

-slingshot (rare)

For preparation:

-The head, wings and feet are generally removed.

-Thereafter the feathers are plucked out or skinning,

depending on the bird and the person’s preference.

-If the crop is puffy cut out the food therein.

-Cut in an upwards direction through the breast bone (use a

sharp knife and cut away in case of an accident).

-Pull the breast apart.

-Remove the entrails.

-Continue cutting in a downward direction until reaching the anus. Remove the intestine.

-Clean the pigeon.

-Cook by frying, roasting or boiling.

-Season with your favourite spices.

-Stuff the pigeon with your favourite stuffing

Personally, I’d never eat pigeon. I think the idea is quite

disgusting and repulsive. I have two images of pigeons eating; from pigeon feeders in urban areas and from garbage. In addition, I see them every single day; as long as they don’t poop or perch on our balcony I love them so dearly.

Pigeons are pretty and cute. Plumage colours found in

pigeons include shades of grays and black, white, green, and yellow. Pigeon feathers are soft and thick and not firmly attached to their bodies, easily coming off. This is likely a protective measure against predatory attacks. Anyone who’s plucked a pigeon for whatever purpose can attest to the relative ease of removing pigeon feathers. Likely, this individual eats pigeons.

If you have ‘tons’ of pigeon droppings on your property or if you’re a city worker assigned to clean off pigeon droppings, read the list below, it is important:

-Pigeon droppings are not always a trivial matter. They can

be hazardous to your health. Possible diseases in the droppings include histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis and psittacosis.

-Histoplasmosis is a fungus caused disease. This fungus

grows in pigeon droppings and in soil. Primary mode of danger is 59

inhalation (dry droppings through dust). Symptoms of infected persons including fatigue, fever and chest pains may appear in 10 days. Everyone does not show symptoms. However, people with compromised