The Fascinating Saga of the World\’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird
by Andrew D. Blechman
A book about people who are passionate about pigeons. Love them, hate them. Breeders, sportsmen, activists, rescuers, chefs. Pigeons have a long history with man including doves that were sent from ships to find land, birds raised or hunted to be eaten in pies, and pigeons that delivered crucial messages during war. Then there are hobbyists: men who breed fancy pigeons for their colors, shapes and fantastic feathers, others involved in the dying sport of pigeon racing, or the clandestine pigeon shoots. Pushing a bit further beyond these obvious interests, the author also sought out famous people who loved pigeons (Queen Elizabeth, Mike Tyson), men whose livelihoods are built on deterring pigeons from hanging around buildings, and others who work in processing plants that sell pigeon meat to fine restaurants. Then there\’s the city ladies obsessed with feeding pigeons, those that furtively net pigeons to sell to the shoots, and animal-rights people who try to thwart them. Blechman finds out about them all, in the meantime sharing a wealth of pigeon lore. He claims that pigeons really don\’t spread disease, in spite of the mess they leave around, and that their current status as reviled \”rats with wings\” is relatively new; for a much longer time period pigeons have been appreciated as one of man\’s first domesticated animals. They can be birds of great stamina, natural athletes, and complete homebodies- racing pigeons, after all, are just speeding their way back home to their comforts and city pigeons like to hang around people because the pickings are easy. I learned a lot of interesting stuff from Pigeons, but sometimes wished it stuck a little closer to topic (more on the pigeons and less about the people) particularly the chapter about the famous boxer. It was all about how the author kept getting the runaround when trying for an interview, with a smattering of info he picked up on Tyson\’s pigeons. That part could have used some editing.
Rating: 3/5 …….. 239 pages, 2006