Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Avitrol Kills Blackbirds in New Jersey

Health Officer Exterminates Wrong Birds in NJ

It was NY parks commissioner Thomas P. F. Hoving who dubbed pigeons "rats with wings," a term that fourteen years later was popularized by Woody Allen in his 1980 flick “Stardust Memories.” So surely there's some blood on their hands in the war on the pigeon community in New York (only recently was a National Pigeon Day established to combat the haters).

There are a lot of pigeons around though, and everything from Robo-Hawk to Pigeon Czars have been considered in controlling the population, but it's sort of rare that we hear the words "pigeon extermination." Turns out some folks across the Hudson (specifically, Fort Lee Health Officer Steven Wielkotz) turned to the chemical Avitrol "to get rid of more than 100 pigeons that descended on the area around town hall two months ago," according to WCBS. Avitrol, by the way, "kills the pigeons by first causing them to suffer seizures and then cardiac arrest."

Wielkotz's master plan to wipe out the pigeons didn't quite go as planned, however, because the grackles ate the seed instead. 30 of those birds have since died—and Mayor Mark Sokolich says children were seen trying to save the dying birds.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pigeons -- the most intelligent of the bird species

Birds of a feather drink together: The three clever pigeons who help each other sup from a water fountain

They obviously have a better class of pigeon Down Under.

Instead of pecking around on the filthy pavements among cigarette butts and chewing gum, they prefer to sip filtered water and go to great lengths for a bath.

The trio pictured in the article, in Brisbane, Queensland, appear to have worked out a clever system of adapting the water fountain built by humans for their own pigeon purposes.

Coo-l: drink: As one pigeon sucks up water (left), another stands on the lever (right) and the third keeps watch

After waiting for the fountain to be free, one bird jumped on the lever and pushed it down to fill up the bowl, while another kept watch and the third splashed in.

When it had drunk its fill and cleaned its feathers, the third pigeon hopped up to the handle and let his friends have a go.

The three birds continued their bathing ritual for ten minutes, entertaining passers-by in Post Office Square, in Brisbane's bustling business district.

Unlike other birds, who take a sip of water and throw back their heads to swallow, pigeons suck up water using their beaks like straws.

Though they aren't very popular in this part of the world and are referred to as rats of the sky, pigeons - even the English ones - are considered among the most intelligent of all the bird species.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reading the Brains of Pigeons in Flight

New York Times
June 30, 2009
Reading the Brains of Pigeons in Flight
Ever wonder what goes on inside the minds of pigeons?

No? Researchers in Europe have.

Alexei L. Vyssotski of the University of Zurich and colleagues have studied the brain activity of homing pigeons as they fly over visual landmarks.

How homing pigeons find their way back to a starting point is not completely known. Studies have shown that the birds variously use the position of the sun and the earth’s magnetic field as a compass, and sense of smell and visual cues as navigation aids. But the use of visual cues has been difficult to study, because if a bird flies over a landmark and doesn’t change its course, it’s impossible to know whether the bird has not perceived the cue or is ignoring it.

The researchers developed tiny neurologgers, to record electrical activity in the pigeons’ brains as they flew. The birds also carried small global positioning system units to track position. By matching brain activity to location, the researchers could determine the effect of flying over a landmark.

The birds’ flights began over water, a relatively featureless environment, and then continued over land to a homing point. This enabled the researchers to determine brain activity as the birds reached the coastline and then flew over other landmarks.

They found that activity in both high- and mid-range frequencies occurred as the birds passed over a landmark. The researchers, who reported their findings in Current Biology, suggest that the mid-range frequencies are linked to the perception of visual information, while the high-frequency activity may be related to cognitive processing — perhaps the recognition of a landmark as something the bird has seen before.

The researchers also observed strong brain activity at two rural locations where there were no significant landmarks. On visiting the sites, the researchers found that both had colonies of wild pigeons, which was probably what caught the homing pigeons’ interest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pigeon Oral Contraception Legalized in New York State

"Birth Control" for Pigeons Now Available in all 50 States

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA - Innolytics, LLC announced today that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation ("NYDEC") became the 50th and final state to grant registration for OvoControl® P in pigeons. The first of its kind, the new product effectively controls egg hatchability in pigeons and essentially represents non-hormonal oral contraception for birds.

OvoControl P (nicarbazin) was registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency in May 2007. Following a federal registration, each state requires its own State Registration and the registration process in New York can be especially thorough.

"Support for the approval of OvoControl in New York spanned a cross-section of stakeholder groups," said Erick Wolf, CEO of Innolytics.". The company collaborated with the office of State Senator Eric Schneiderman (D-31st) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to support the approval of the new technology in New York."

"Other communities and businesses across the US are adopting birth control to help reduce the population of these invasive birds thereby reducing what they leave behind," said Wolf. "New York represents a very large market where the pigeon problem is widespread and has limited control options. Pest Management Professionals and their customers are increasingly adopting low-impact solutions that effectively control the underlying local pigeon population."

"Pigeons are a fact of life for New Yorkers," said James Freedland, a spokesperson from Senator Schneiderman's District Office in Northern Manhattan. "This technology is a safe, humane and effective tool to help manage pigeon overpopulation in and around our city and state."

Birth control for birds is also advocated by animal welfare organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States. "The Humane Society of the United States supports non-lethal wildlife management because it works," said Laura Simon, Field Director for Urban Wildlife Programs with the Humane Society of the the United States in Connecticut. "Simply killing birds is not a long-term or effective solution. A comprehensive program to reduce conflicts with pigeons should include reproductive control with other proven non-lethal approaches," added Ms. Simon.

In addition to exclusion and control of feeding, OvoControl P represents yet another component in an integrated program of pest bird management. The new product is available through licensed pest control professionals in New York. In combination with other mitigation measures, OvoControl P results in a more comprehensive and effective, long-term control program.

Established in 2003, Innolytics, LLC is a privately held company which focuses on developing humane population management technology for wildlife. For further information see the company website at

# # #

Contact: Erick Wolf, CEO, Innolytics, LLC Tel: 858.759.8012 -- email

Sunday, June 14, 2009

National Pigeon Day? New York Bird Club Looks to make it happen

Amos Latteier in his pigeon suit talks to Anne-Marie Richard about her gallery's pigeon-inspired art, as they advocate for the establishment of National Pigeon Day on June 13.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

State Bird of New York -- the Manhattan Pigeon?

Copied from the Random Objects blog; you're gonna live this one!

"Pigeons Love NY" is one of our newest designs, but I wanted to shed some light on the inspiration for this design.

Recently NY councilman Simcha Felder has proposed that the city impose a $1,000 fine for anyone caught feeding pigeons.... come on? He figures that this will control the population of pigeons in New York? If I were to list the top 5 things that people identify with New York -- our dirty feathery friends would have to be on that list!

Here's my list:
1. Times Square
2. horrendous traffic
3. street meat and pretzels
4. skyscrapers and...
5. PIGEONS !!!

Did you know that our state bird is the Eastern Bluebird... WHAT? I have never seen an eastern bluebird walking around on the sidewalks of New York, but I've seen plenty of pigeons! These foul birds have been a fixture here in NY for over a century. Our new state bird should be the Manhattan Pigeon! Send a letter to City Hall demanding to make the pigeon our new state bird.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pennsylvania -- the last state left

Cruel & unusual: Stop turning pigeons into sitting ducks

In an attempt to broaden perspectives on and coverage of statewide issues that concern our readers, we'll be occasionally running editorials from papers around the commonwealth. Today's editorial first appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

PENNSYLVANIA is only state left in the nation allowing live pigeon shoots.

Opponents who have tried for decades to ban pigeon shoots are now are asking legislators to ban two particularly appalling practices: Launching and tethering.

Pigeons are put into mechanical launches and placed about 30 yards away from shooters. The birds are propelled and shot while they are still in the air. In another type of contest, they are tethered in place and shot.

The mechanical launch and tethering at bird shoots continue to be an embarrassment to our commonwealth. Other states have wisely banned the contests, leaving us with the lone reputation of enabling them. In fact, many of the people who participate at pigeon shoots come from other states.

Fortunately many pigeon shoots - Hegins comes to mind - have ended because of court rulings or organizers' bowing to public opposition. But many persist and the mechanical launch has become a popular and cruel tool for the shoots. The Humane Society of the United States says that typically 10 percent of birds manage to escape, 20 percent are killed outright and 70 percent are wounded and later die.

Some pigeon-shoot supporters have tried to tie the practice to hunting. But real hunters know shooting a bird from a launch or one that is tethered isn't real hunting.

Bills have been introduced in the House by Reps. Eugene DePasquale (D-York) and John Maher (R-Allegheny) and in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Browne (R-Lehigh). The legislation would ban shoots in which captive birds are tethered or launched in front of the shooter. And the bills specifically say they can't be used to restrict traditional hunting regulated by the state Game Commission.

More than 22,000 birds are used as targets every year in the state for these shoots.

Pigeons aren't puppies. Putting the face of the birds on a poster might not stir the same emotions in people as did the sad-eyed dogs displayed last year during the successful fight against puppy mills.

But people should be no less outraged and the outcome should be the same. Legislators should end this cruel practice. *

A New Commandment for Pennsylvanians: Thou Shalt Not Kill....Pigeons

-Lebanon Daily News

Perhaps Pennsylvania's Legislature can only handle one dog-and-pony (or dog-and-pigeon) show per term. Last session, there was considerable focus on legislation changing dog laws to prevent so-called "puppy mills."

While that debate was going on, another piece of animal-related legislation came and went (again).

Pigeons don't have quite the same fun-and-furry reputation as puppies. People will get considerably more wrought up about a baby Rottweiler than even the most attractive squab.

But that's no reason to trap them elsewhere, haul them to Pennsylvania and blast them out of the air—and then call it a sport and expect Pennsylvania's many real sportsmen follow allow with the thinking.

The bill to finally ban live-pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania—the only state left standing when it comes to these senseless shoots—came and went again during the last legislative session. It's been about two decades that efforts have been ongoing.

We shouldn't be shooting live pigeons in Pennsylvania. It's not a sport by any definition. It's been done better with artificial targets for years. The efforts to ban it are written explicitly so that the shoot legislation cannot be used as a jump-off point against other blood sport.

This is an area where hunting is deep in the fiber of the community. We've had a busy outdoors page in our paper for years. We get plenty of photo submissions when it comes to deer and even bear season. We have written in this space of the significance of Pennsylvania's and the Lebanon Valley's hunting traditions. We do not now nor will we ever seek to undermine that.

The legislation banning pigeon shoots does not undermine the tradition. Don't make the argument; it's got no traction with us. Pigeon shoots, quite simply, are inhumane and not at all sporting. They are almost diametrically opposed to the philosophy of hunting, in that a caged animal is released under controlled circumstances and blown away at short range (or, too often, wounded and able to get far enough away to die in agony—that's also not a part of hunting philosophy. You shoot to kill, and if you don't kill it, you track it.

The new legislation has been written for both the House and the Senate. It's HB 1411 and SB 843. Rep. RoseMarie Swanger has signed on as a co-sponsor of the House bill, and we think that's the proper move.

Get real, Pennsylvania. Pigeon shoots aren't for real hunters, and no real argument can be made to continue them. If they're no good in Texas, Colorado, West Virginia and other hunting states, they certainly aren't any good here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pennsylvania -- the only state allowing live pigeon shoots

Take aim at banning cruel pigeon shoots
by Patriot-News Editorial Board
Sunday May 24, 2009, 6:01 PM

Pennsylvania sadly still has the distinction of being the only state left in the nation allowing live pigeon shoots.

Opponents of the practice have tried for decades to ban pigeon shoots and now are asking legislators to ban two particularly appalling practices.

Here's what is allowed to happen in our state: Pigeons are put into mechanical launches and placed about 30 yards away from shooters. The birds are propelled, in some cases they are shot while they are still in the air, other times they fall to the ground and are shot. In another type of contest, the birds, including turkeys, are tethered in place so they cannot escape and shot.

The mechanical launch and tethering at bird shoots continue to be an embarrassment to our commonwealth. Other states have wisely banned the contests leaving us with the lone reputation of enabling them. In fact, many of the people who participate at pigeon shoots come from other states.

Fortunately many pigeon shoots -- Hegins comes to mind -- have ended because of court rulings or organizers bowing to public opposition. But many still persist and the mechanical launch has become a popular and cruel tool for the shoots. The Humane Society of the United States says that typically 20 percent of the birds that are launched are killed outright, 10 percent manage to escape and 70 percent are wounded and later die.

Some pigeon shoot supporters have tried to tie the practice to hunting. But real hunters know shooting a bird from a launch -- in some cases they are weighted down -- or one that is tethered is not real hunting.

Bills have been introduced in the House by Reps. Eugene DePasquale (D-York County) and John Maher (R-Allegheny) and in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Browne (D-Lehigh). The legislation would ban shoots in which captive birds are tethered or launched in front of the shooter. And the bills specifically say they cannot be used to restrict traditional hunting regulated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

More than 22,000 birds are used as targets every year in the state for these shoots. The birds are captured on state land and on the streets of New York City. The HSUS says because Pennsylvania has become a repository for so many pigeons, organizers of underground shoots in states where the contests are banned buy their pigeons in the commonwealth -- giving us yet another black eye.

Pigeons aren't puppies. Putting the face of the birds on a poster might not stir the same emotions in people as did the sad-eyed dog photos displayed last year during the successful fight against puppymills.

But people should be no less outraged and the outcome should be the same. Legislators should end this cruel practice.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Birds in Paradise: Pigeons Share Similar Mating Process to Humans

New York Post
May 24, 2009

Love them or hate them, rock doves are surely New York's unofficial feathered mascot. To honor them on National Pigeon Day (June 13), the New York Bird Club and United Poultry Concerns will host an event from noon to 4 p.m. at Pilgrim Hill in Central Park, featuring an appearance by singer-songwriter Nellie McKay, among other attractions. But since sex sells, the sponsors might want to add a discussion on pigeon porn to the program. I, for one, wouldn't have to attend a demo -- the airshaft adjacent to my apartment is a veritable lovers' lane for pigeons.

Their cooing is more than just ordinary urban background noise: It's proof that pigeons have more in common with us humans than we might think, especially in the mating department.

Rita McMahon, who rescues birds in distress and runs the Wild Bird Fund, concurs. But while human females won't marry a guy after just one pass or memorable meal -- especially if he throws up on the date -- female pigeons will. After initial coos, the male regurgitates his meal into the female's beak during a ritual called "billing."

As is often the case with humans, a female pigeon's sex drive is higher than a male's. "Some of the ladies are very horny, and will begin the mating process again immediately after sex," McMahon says.

But perhaps they're just worried the male might leave them. Because while most pigeons are renowned for their monogamy, there are exceptions. "Males will divorce a female if she's infertile," McMahon allows.

Before, I viewed the feathered occupants of that dark, gloomy airshaft as live entertainment for my cats. Now I realize that what I have is an enlightening window into the stimulating sex lives of pigeons. If only I could get past the fact that they relentlessly use my air conditioner as a litter box.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On Memorial Day, thank a pigeon.

Tampa Exotic Pets Examiner
On Memorial Day, thank a pigeon.
May 24, 7:39 AM

Where there are humans, there are companion animals. Even in war zones. During World War One, the 'state of the art' method for sending messages was by pigeon. Some pigeons even earned medals, although I don't know if this impressed the pigeon at all. Historically, camels, mules, and horses have transported soldiers and supplies. Soldiers also kept animals simply because they liked them, including tortoises, doves, larks, thrushes, blackbirds, and rabbits.

Right now in Iraq, despite all our modern technology, we depend on dogs for finding dangers, dolphins to find underwater mines, sea lions to patrol for enemy divers, and pigeons to serve as early warnings of chemical attacks. According to the website ( the dolphins are smart enough to avoid the mines once they've found them.

The more I study and learn about different species, the more I realize that humans do not have any truly unique capabilities. Everything humans do, at least one other species does, if in its own way. We are not the only species whose conflicts expand until they harm others who were in no way involved in the original conflict. Human war is, however the most extreme example of this behavior.

You want soldiers to have everything that will help them survive the hard work they're doing. Anything that makes their lives a little easier or safer is good. On the other hand, you have to seriously question what the dogs, sea lions, pigeons, and dolphins have to do with human political problems, and why they should be taken from their own business or put at risk over human wars. For now, the best solution I can think of is to 'pay our debts forward'. Protect habitats for sea lions and dolphins and birds. Go out of your way to make life good for domestic animals. Most important, try to find ways to keep all conflicts and the damage they cause under control, instead of letting the conflict control us.

For more info:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pigeon Killings Anticipated in So. Korea

May 21, 2009, 3:30 am
The New York Times

A Korean term for fat pigeons – literally, pig pigeon (dwaeji + bidulgi).

South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is plagued by pigeons. (This follows a decision in the 1970s to introduce the birds in an attempt, it seems, to mimic the pigeons in cities like London.) Faced with increasing public concern about the environmental and health consequences of this infestation, officials are planning to make pigeons easier to cull, as Sung So-young reported for The JoongAng Daily:

“Pigeons could be added to the list of harmful animals by early next month,” said Cho Gap-hyun, officer in charge of the pigeon portfolio at the ministry [of environment]. It usually takes 45 days to approve an amendment, Cho said, so D-Day for the members of the bird family that many people regard as a rat with wings could be June 10.

“A large number of citizens want us to do something about their problems regarding pigeon droppings and feathers but there is no relevant law to control pigeon-related problems,” Cho explained by way of background to the proposed amendment.

Once designated feral, harmful animals, pigeons will be fair game for capture or killing, with full approval of the authorities.

Discussing the unpopularity of these urban birds, Sung So-young wrote:

The nicknames given to pigeons reveal the levels of antipathy, especially to weighty ones that swagger from bench to bench looking for scraps of food.

One is dakdulgi, a compound of dak, or chicken, and dulgi, a shortened word for bidulgi, or pigeon in Korean. Another is dwaedulgi, a compound of dwaeji, or pig, and bidulgi.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"National Pigeon Day" to protest pigeon hunts....

Club to stop pigeon shoots; police withdraw citation
Bucks County Courier Times
Various groups have planned "National Pigeon Day" in New York to protest pigeon hunts.

The Bensalem Police Department said it has withdrawn animal cruelty and hunting citations against the Philadelphia Gun Club president after police said the organization promised to stop shooting birds.

On March 14, club president Leo Holt was cited for allegedly participating in live pigeon shoots at the club's headquarters on River Road in Bensalem.

The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching John Van Luvanne, attorney for the club, for comment, after calls to his office Wednesday and Friday.

Township officials cited local laws against such hunts, but the gun club has argued that its organization predates all such ordinances. Pigeon shooting is legal in Pennsylvania.

Regardless, Public Safety Director Fred Harran said the gun club has agreed to stop shooting birds. With those assurances, he said the township felt comfortable dropping the charges.

"Our goal here was not to collect a fine for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Harran said. "Our goal here was to stop this activity."

The fine for Holt's alleged violations of the township's animal cruelty and hunting ordinances would have been about $160, according to court records.

Bensalem said it issued a cease-and-desist order against the shoots in 2002, after videos sent to the newspaper appeared to show pigeon hunting at the gun club off State Road.

The gun club denied that any such cease-and-desist order was issued. Club members also questioned whether the township had legal authority to shut down the pigeon shoots.

Advertisement Chartered in 1877, the gun club pre-dates any township laws. Pigeon shoots on the Bensalem waterfront have been a subject of legal disputes going back more than 119 years.

In 1890, a Bucks County judge ruled that gun club member A. Nelson Lewis was guilty of animal cruelty.

According to a Jan. 27, 1890, report in the New York Times, Lewis "fired with a gun upon certain pigeons, liberated from a trap, killing one and wounding another.

"The bird so wounded alighted upon a tree, and as soon as its wounded condition was discovered, it was killed," the report said. "The birds so killed were immediately sold for food, according to the rule and custom of said club."

The Pennsylvania Legislature is considering a ban on pigeon shoots. There were two earlier attempts for a statewide ban in 1999, but both failed.

Animal rights groups will hold a "National Pigeon Day" in New York City next month to rally for the rights of birds and protest pigeon shoots.

Activists said they are rallying against pigeon trafficking to Pennsylvania for the purposes of pigeon shoots. They also oppose pigeon control methods, including contraceptives and sterilization.

A number of writers, actors and musicians are scheduled to perform from noon to 4 p.m. June 13 on Pilgrim Hill in Central Park.

For more information on the protest, visit the Web site for the Humane Society of the United States,

May 17, 2009 02:00 AM

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dear President Obama,

May 13, 2009

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

There is a hero that deserves to be honored with a special holiday ~ this hero saved countless lives in World Wars I and II, and possesses a gentle nature and exemplary characteristics and traits, including loyalty and devotion to family. Yet, like many heroes, this particular one is often undervalued and disregarded and, worst of all, sometimes unfairly persecuted. It is time for the truth about this hero to be to be made known and celebrated. This hero is…..the Rock Dove, also known as the pigeon.

Try to imagine any large city without this ubiquitous bird. A city devoid of pigeons lacks character and animation. For city children, pigeons are often one of their first contacts with nature. For the elderly, feeding the pigeons in the park gives them both purpose and pleasure when they have little else left.

Pigeons are considered to be one of the most intelligent bird species, being capable of learning tasks previously thought to be understood only by the higher forms of humans and primates. They are one of 6 species – and the only non-mammal – that can recognize its reflection in a mirror, and scientific tests have determined that they can understand all 26 letters of the English language and differentiate between images in photographs. They can be trained to save lives at sea, by recognizing the color of life jackets of survivors floating in the water.

Of course, the pigeon’s ability to navigate and fly great distances and return home is its most unique skill. It was this skill that made pigeons war heroes, as flying messengers – carrier pigeons - a usage that goes back to ancient times. Many pigeons in World War I and II saved the lives of soldiers by getting messages or locations through when there was no other means of communications. Some of these birds were shot up so badly by enemy fire that it is incredible that they made it back to their home base. In 1946, a pigeon named G.I. Joe was the only American bird awarded the prestigious Dickin medal (a British medal that is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross) for service in World War II. The US Air Force was to bomb the city of Calvi Risorta in Italy at 11:00 a.m. on October 18, 1943; however, British troops captured the city at 10:00 a.m. and attempts to cancel the raid by radio failed. G.I. Joe had been borrowed from the American airfield earlier and was released with a message to stop the raid. He landed as the bombers were about to take off. An estimated 1,000 British troops would have died if the bombing had gone on as planned.

We propose the date of June 13th as National Pigeon Day. June 13th was the anniversary of the death of Cher Ami, the most famous and legendary of the carrier pigeons of wartime. Cher Ami was a pigeon in World War I who, on October 4, 1918, flew 25 miles in 25 minutes -despite being horribly wounded - to deliver a message that saved 200 American soldiers in Europe, who were fighting to help the French allies. The Americans were surrounded by the German enemy and the message gave the location of the American soldiers so they wouldn’t be killed by American bombs trying to destroy the surrounding Germans. The French government awarded Cher Ami their highest honor – the Croix de Guerre. The bird was patched up and tended by medics and General John J. Pershing himself saw the pigeon off when he departed Europe for home. At the time, Cher Ami’s story became one of the most famous wartime hero stories.

Cher Ami died of his multiple war wounds, including being blinded in one eye, shot through the breast and loss of a leg, on June 13, 1919, less than a year after he had completed his service to the United States Army Signal Corps.  When he died, a taxidermist preserved the pigeon for future generations, and today, if you visit the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History, you can see Cher Ami preserved for history alongside the French Croix de Guerre that was awarded to him by the French government.  It was rumored that Cher Ami had also been awarded the American Distinguished Service Cross, but although there is substantial documentation that General John J. Pershing did, in fact, award some sort of silver medal to the heroic carrier pigeon, there is no record of the Distinguished Service Cross specifically being awarded. Perhaps this is another oversight that you could investigate and correct.

In recent years, the pigeon’s talents, loyalty and friendship to humans has been sadly forgotten, and this remarkable bird is now often called a pest or described as a rat with wings (this last comment is thanks to an infamous line in a Woody Allen movie). Nothing could be further from the truth. The bird is not a carrier of disease (no more so than any wild bird, such as a cardinal or bluebird), and is relatively harmless. They tend to live near humans and in areas that are natural to them – in the wild they live on cliffs; in urban areas, they find buildings and bridges that mimic their natural homes. Pigeons are the first ones blamed when there is a bridge collapse (i.e., their droppings corroded the metal) yet, investigation has always found human error or design defect to be the true fault.

Worst of all, in some areas, pigeons are used as live targets in shooting clubs, most notoriously in Pennsylvania. Legislation is pending to outlaw this, but the erroneous perception of the pigeon as an undesirable – perpetrated to no small degree by pest control companies as a way to boost their business – continues to denigrate this species.

It is time for the pigeon to be respected for its remarkable traits and for how it has helped mankind. Many young Americans are alive today because a pigeon’s message saved his or her grandfather in World War I and II! The pigeon deserves a special day in recognition of its contributions. Please help make June 13, National Pigeon Day, a reality.

Respectfully yours,

Arlene B. Steinberg
Vice President
New York Bird Club

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Efficacy of OvoControl P

One of the most common OvoControl® questions is, "how well does it work?" The answer to this question actually has two parts, 1) how well does OvoControl interfere with egg hatchability? and, 2) how quickly will OvoControl reduce the population of birds?

Egg Hatchability
The active ingredient in OvoControl, nicarbazin, interferes with egg development and acts as a contraceptive in birds. The egg hatchability effects of nicarbazin are well documented and characterized in the scientific literature and the data is indisputable - if a bird eats the bait daily and in an adequate quantity, the eggs will simply not hatch. As occurs frequently in nature, birds will abandon a failed nest and try again.

Population Effects
The rate at which a pigeon population declines depends on a range of variables, primarily related to site-specific characteristics. Controlling variables in a free ranging population of birds is obviously challenging. Nevertheless, the data reported in the US (Linda Vista) is consistent with what has been reported in Italy. The absence of successful reproduction, in combination with natural attrition, reduces the population of birds at a rate of approximately 50%, annually.

OvoControl reduces the population of birds - gradually and predictably - all without the risks of a toxicant or need to remove dead or dying birds.

For more details, see the new 2-page white paper for OvoControl Efficacy on the company website at

OvoControl® is a registered trademark of Innolytics, LLC, Rancho Santa Fe, CA.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Death of the Passenger Pigeon

The story of the Passenger Pigeon is one of the most tragic extinction stories in modern times. As recently as around 200 years ago they weren’t anywhere near extinction. In fact, they were actually the most common bird in North America, and some reports counted single flocks numbering in the billions.

During some migrations, the flocks flying overhead would stretch for over a mile and could take several hours to pass. It would have been impossible to imagine a North American skyline without them. Yet somehow the species went from being one of the most abundant birds in the world to extinction in only about 100 years. What happened?

Colonial hunters happened. The pigeon meat was commercialized and recognized as cheap food, especially for slaves and the poor, which led to a catastrophic hunting campaign on a massive scale. Furthermore, due to the large size of their flocks, the birds were seen as a threat to farmers. In fact, in 1703 the Catholic bishop of Quebec actually excommunicated the entire species.

The last known Passenger Pigeon, named “Martha”, died in captivity on September 1st, 1914, in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1896, the last flock of 250,000 birds were slaughtered by hunters despite the knowledge that it was the last flock of that size left.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How Pigeons Serve Mankind

Messenger/Homing Pigeons

Homing pigeons are called messenger pigeons when they are used to carry messages. Messages have to be written on light, thin paper (such as cigarette paper) and rolled into a small tube that is attached to the bird's leg. This is called "pigeon post." Pigeons reach speeds between 60 - 80 miles per hour. They can fly up to 80 to 600 miles in one single day.

The Carrier of Messages:
During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, the Prussians had surrounded the city of Paris preventing mail from entering or leaving the city. During the course of the siege, pigeons and mail were regularly taken out of Paris by hot-air balloons. The letters that were sent to Paris were first reduced in size by photography, so that 30,000 letters could be carried on film placed inside a canister. These canisters were attached to pigeons and the pigeons then flew into Paris. Thirty-five pigeons carried the same letters, so that if any were shot down, at least one would reach Paris. In Paris, the film was projected on a screen, and the letters were copied by hand and delivered to homes in the city.

Pigeon have been used to transport short messages across long distances. In fact, historically well-known leaders, such as Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan, have used pigeons to carry important messages across long distances.

One of the world’s best known news agencies, Reuters, started its European business by using 45 trained homing pigeons to carry financial news on the continent in 1850. The pigeons carried the latest news and stock prices from Aachen in Germany to Brussels in Belgium. The homing pigeons travelled the 76 miles in a record-breaking two hours beating the railway by four hours.

The Chinese used homing pigeons to deliver mail as long ago as 1000 B.C.

Rescue Missions

A team of navy researchers trained pigeons to save human lives at sea as part of "Project Sea Hunt." Pigeons have better eyesight than humans and are, therefore, uniquely qualified for search-and-rescue missions. They were trained to identify the red or yellow life jackets of people floating in the water. The pigeons were carried by helicopters and when they saw a life jacket, they pecked a keyboard, which set off a light. Then the helicopter moved closer until the humans were able to see the life jacket.

The pigeons were not only found to be more reliable than humans but they were also many times quicker than humans when it came to spotting survivors from a capsized or sinking boat. The pigeon can see color in the same way that humans do but they can also see ultra-violet - a part of the spectrum that humans cannot see.


During the two World Wars, homing pigeons saved thousands of human lives by carrying messages across enemy lines. Pigeons were carried on ships and in the event of an attack, the messenger pigeon was released with details of the location of the sinking ship. Many lives were saved.

Pigeons also played a vital role in intelligence gathering. Hundreds of homing pigeons with the Confidential Pigeon Service were airdropped into northwest Europe to serve as intelligence vectors for local resistance agents.

World War I:
Homing pigeon "Cher Ami" was awarded the French Croix de guerre for delivering 12 important messages within the American sector at Verdun, France, despite being badly injured by enemy fire during his last trip. He carried with him an important message that led to the rescue of 194 American soldiers (now known as the "Lost Battalion," part of New York’s 77th Division of the U.S. Army), who would have otherwise perished.

World War II:
On 18 October 1943, the American homing pigeon "G.I. Joe" saved an Italian village that was scheduled to be bombed by British forces. "G.I. Joe" delivered a message about the planned attack in time to stop the bombing and his actions saved the lives of over a thousand people.

The Irish homing pigeon " Paddy" was awarded the Dickin Medal after being the first pigeon to arrive back in England with news of the success of the D-Day invasion, out of hundreds dispatched. He flew 230 miles across the English Channel in four hours and five minutes - the fastest recorded crossing.


White homing pigeons are released at weddings, funerals, and some sporting events. After the "release" - the pigeons will fly black to their lofts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Letters to Mayor Bloomberg...National Pigeon Day in New York

The following are emails send to Mayor Bloomberg, copied to the New York Bird Club. Please keep the letters coming.

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

I would like you to be aware that NY pigeons have friends and admirers as far away as Calgary, AB, Canada.

I encourage you to make June 13th officially National Pigeon Day. As one of the world's great cities, your actions ring loud and clear across the world, and the message you send will be one of respect and consideration for another species of earthlings.

I look forward to hearing of your proclamation.

Jonathan Martin
Calgary, Canada

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

I and my family are requesting that you officially designate to make it official and declare June 13th as National Pigeon Day in New York City.

It will be a fitting and deserving tribute to this bird of service during World War 1Thank you for this appropriate designation.

Diane M. Kastel

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

Please declare June 13th as National Pigeon Day in New York City. We know you love the pigeons as much as we do. Thank you for your time and attention to this most important matter.

Patricia M. Nelson

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

As you know, Saturday, June 13th has been unoficially declared National Pigeon Day by the New York Bird Club.

June 13th is the day that Cher Ami, meaning "Dear Friend" in French departed the Earth. Pigeons have a noble history. As you will recall, Cher Ami served several months on the front lines during the Fall of 1918. He flew 12 important missions to deliver messages. Perhaps the most important was the message he carried on October 4, 1918. (reference:

Inasmuch as you have been paying tribute to this noble bird I ask that you now officially declare June 13th as National Pigeon Day in New York City. To impress you further on the attributes of this heroic creature, I cite the following: Cher Ami, a heroic pigeon who, against all odds, helped rescue a lost battalion of soldiers and left an unforgettable mark on American history. And in fact, Cher Ami was one of six hundred carrier pigeons used by the American Army during World War I. Pigeons are attractive, quiet, unobtrusive, have a calming, gentle voice, and are loyal, hardworking and devoted birds. And certainly worthy of our respect and admiration. They also serve the community well by cleaning our garbage away.

Homing pigeons are released at funerals, weddings and other significant ceremonies. Pigeons symbolize love, wonder and hope and the difficulties of life's journey. And you yourself have already paid tribute to pigeons by calling them "the often-overlooked winged heroes of conflicts past."

Therefore, please set this day aside for the pigeons once and for all. Thank you.

Richard W. Firth
Mechanicsville, Va. 23116

Hello Mayor Bloomberg,

My name is Anna Dove, and I am the founder of the New York Bird Club.

We have commemorated a day of recognition for the rock pigeon who, as you are aware, served mankind in times of unrest by delivering vital messages that saved many human lives in World War 1 and World War 11. Today many people still use them as messengers.

Pigeons are loyal and faithful birds deserving of respect. We feel they are remarkable birds that deserve a day of acknowledgement and recognition, and it is important that the legacy of the homing pigeons heroic war efforts be preserved and remembered.

With this in mind, the New York Bird Club has founded National Pigeon Day on June 13th. This is the day that Cher Ami passed away. Cher Ami was one of hundreds of homing pigeons used by American forces in France during World War I. And what better venue to hold National Pigeon Day than on Pilgrim Hill in New York's own beautiful Central Park.

The New York Bird Club would be delighted and honored if you would visit us on National Pigeon Day and say a few words on behalf of these loyal birds who served mankind so faithfully, and/or officially declare June 13th as National Pigeon Day in New York.

Please visit the National Pigeon Day blog @ which is regularly updated.

Anna Dove
New York Bird Club

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

I was very pleased to learn that you have paid tribute to the pigeon war heros of the past. I have my father's diary from WW1 in which he mentions seeing soldiers in the trenches with cages filled with pigeons who valiantly risked their lives, often dying alone on the battlefield. They could easily have escaped the horrors of that most terrible of wars, but there is no record of it ever happening.

I hope that you will declare June 13th as National Pigeon Day in New York City, in appreciation of their many services throughout the ages to mankind.


Marie L.
Queens, NY 11372

Thanks for PIGEON DAY!!!

Dear Mayor,

Thank you for such a decent, nice, lovable gesture toward the New York pigeons. I used to feed them for a long time when I was living in Queens and working in Manhattan and I sincerely wish more New Yorkers would take a couple of minutes of their very busy schedules to watch, admire and feed those adorable birds.

Yours truly,
Elsa Rosa Latheef
New Jersey Resident

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

Please make June 13, 2009 National Pigeon Day, to honor the hundreds of pigeons that played an important part in our history during World War I.

Alvin Wong
Pearl City, Hawaii

Friday, March 6, 2009

NYC Mayor Bloomberg pays homage to pigeons

Please click here to see a copy of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's letter to Al Croseri, director of "The Flight". "The Flight" is an homage to the bravery of homing pigeons who saved thousands of lives in combat in the Great World Wars. Their achievements embodied the attributes of service, endurance, loyalty and supreme courage. Here, their memory is evoked by two present-day homing pigeons silently taking flight from the windows of a New York City apartment. The film dissolves to a forgotten past as we relive their ancestors' selfless heroism.

It is important that the legacy of the homing pigeons heroic war efforts be preserved and remembered.

"The Flight--a lovely tribute to the often-overlooked winged heroes of conflicts past."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cruel Pigeon Control in Toronto

On Sunday, Stilleposters were in a flap over what was perceived to be a cruel method of deterring pigeons being used at the TD Bank at Dundas and Ossington. Lara Williston posted photos of the location's fa├žade, which appeared to have some pigeons' feathers stuck to it, followed by photos of a pigeon sitting on the sidewalk with its underside covered in some kind of thick, sticky substance. Williston explained what she had witnessed prior to snapping the photos:

The feathers that you see on the right side of the pillar are stuck in some of the glue and were ripped out a bird's wing that was dangling from the ledge. The pigeon that you see in the picture had fallen from the ledge and was glued to the front steps leading up to the door. He couldn't move his wings or walk because he was covered in this substance. I don't know if TD is specifically responsible or if it is the landlord of the building, but I suspect it is both, and either way it is an unacceptable and inhumane way of treating any animal, regardless of whether or not it is viewed as a pest.

The disturbing images prompted a generally negative reaction from Stilleposters, some of who wrote that they had placed calls to Animal Services, the Ministry of the Environment, City Hall, and the SPCA (apparently an agent was dispatched, though from what organization was not specified). Then, on Tuesday around noon, a new poster named mcram appeared on the boards, claiming to be a TD employee and offering this explanation:

Hello, I’m Matthew Cram from TD. On Sunday, a contractor we hired was installing a non-harmful pigeon deterrent (a device that dissuades pigeons from landing on our sign and making unsolicited “deposits” on customers). There was some extra adhesive from the installation of the device and unfortunately one pigeon did get stuck and died. The contractor came back yesterday to check the installation and remove any extra adhesive and we’re confident it’s now safe. This was a complete accident and we’re really sorry it happened. TD has been supporting wildlife and the environment for nearly 20 years through our TD Friends of the Environment Foundation ( and this includes pigeons too!

There was some suspicion as to whether Cram was legit, but as his TD email address and this link prove, he indeed works in communications for the company. Over the phone, he explained that the pest control company Abell was hired to install metal spikes along the building to prevent pigeons from landing and thus making "deposits" on customers. Abell's installation job was sloppy, too much adhesive was used, and as a result a pigeon got stuck. "We talked to them, and they assured us this wouldn't happen again," Cram says. "As soon as I saw the thread, I thought, 'No, this can't be right.'" His story checked out: Torontoist dropped by the Dundas & Ossington branch yesterday and saw "porcupine wire" installed along the tops of signage and other popular pigeon-resting spots. Abell employees were at work, and there were no glue traps (or dead or injured pigeons) to be seen.

Cram's handling of the sticky situation seemed to satisfy Stillepost readers, and some commented that it was a good move on the part of TD to openly address the issue, especially on a message board. Though he's not too familiar with Stillepost (he was alerted to the pigeon thread by a bank employee), Cram notes that this sort of response speaks to the "new reality of news." "I read a lot of things, like Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs and websites. We like to know what people are saying about us, and it's interesting how we find out about a lot of things."

Could this be the future: corporate spokespeople like Cram responding to online criticism (even slightly misguided cries of "bird torture") in a timely and sensitive fashion? And to think, all it took to bring together indie-rock message board enthusiasts and a big soulless banking corporation was concern for flying rats.

See full article here.

All photos by Lara Williston.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why Pigeons Are Able to Navigate so Superbly!

The Magnetic Organ

In 1975, a researcher noticed that the bacteria he was studying always clustered at the north side of their culture dish. Even if he turned the dish so that they were at the south end and left it overnight, the next morning the bacteria were back at the north side. Each bacterium contained a chain of tiny magnets! The magnets were actually crystals of the natural magnetic mineral magnetite, the original lodestone of preliterate peoples. Somehow, the bacteria absorbed the soluble components from the water and put them together in their bodies as the insoluble crystalline chain. In 1971, another researcher reported on a lengthy series of experiments with pigeons. He found the same crystals of magnetite, as a submicroscopic mass located on the surface of the pigeon's brain. He found that the mass of crystals was full of nerve fibers that seemed to go into the brain. The magnetite crystals "tell" the pigeon's brain the exact direction of the Earth's magnetic field, and the pigeon uses this information to navigate with its amazing precision. The salamander has two separate magnetic navigational systems. One provides a simple compass, so that when traveling "cross country," it will go in a straight line. The other system enables it to return to the exact spot where it was hatched from its egg in order to mate and lay more eggs. The human "magnetic organ" has been found in the posterior wall of the ethmoid sinus, just in front of the pituitary gland. Humans have an innate ability to sense the direction of magnetic north, and this ability can be blocked by placing a bar magnet against a person's forehead for only fifteen minutes! The directional sense is disturbed for as long as two hours after application of the magnet. It is a sense organ that informs the organism of the direction of the Earth's magnetic field. Nature has provided us with yet another organ that also senses the field and extracts even more significant information from it.

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Unethical Behavior of Chinese Scientists

Chinese scientists said they have succeeded in an experiment to remotely control the flight of a pigeon with electronic technology.

Scientists with the Robot Engineering Technology Research Center of east China's Shandong University of Science and Technology say they implanted micro electrodes in the brain of a pigeon so they can command it to fly right or left or up or down.

The implants stimulated different areas of the pigeon's brain according to signals sent by the scientists via computer, and forced the bird to comply with their commands.

It's the first such successful experiment on a pigeon in the world, said the chief scientist Su Xuecheng.

The electronic signals resemble the signals generated by the brain which control body movement, said Su.

Su and his colleagues are improving the devices used in the experiment ahd hope that the technology can be put into practical use in future.

Su conducted a similar successful experiment on mice in 2005.

Source: Xinhua

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New York Pigeons Detected at PA Tourist Market

Several license plate numbers have been observed and identified as belonging to New York pigeon netters at Roots Market which is located in the tourist area of Lancaster County, PA. where our pigeons are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Please write to the following people and ask them to investigate the situation at Roots Market so they can put an end to this illegal activity. It is against the law to bait and trap pigeons without a license and against the law to traffic pigeons over state lines. The New York Bird Club has emailed Roots Market with an inquiry, but have received no reply.

Write to:

PA Senator Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster)
He also serves as Committee Chairman of the PA Agriculture Committee

PA Governor Edward G. Rendell

Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau

Root's Country Market & Auction, Inc.
705 Graystone Road
Manheim, PA 17545
(717) 898-7811


New York pigeons are also used as shooting targets at pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do New York Pigeons Migrate

New York Times
The City

Q. Here’s a thought for winter: Do New York pigeons migrate?

A. New York may have snowbirds, but pigeons are not among them.

After researching the question, Anna Dove, the aptly named founder and director of the New York Bird Club, replied: “Pigeons, unlike some other species of birds, do not migrate, and if removed from a nesting area they have a good homing ability and can return from long distances.”

When pigeons are a few months old, she said in an e-mail message, they imprint their location in their brain as “home” and will always return there, unless domesticated into a new home, like a loft.

“They can and will fly many miles away from their roost to find food, but at the end of the day they will always return home, or attempt to, and that is why they are so excellent at carrying messages,” Ms. Dove said.