Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Pigeons: Winged Rats or Gourmet Treat?
"Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue." ~ Dilbert [Scott Adams] ~
For as long as there have been people, there have been pigeons.
They are found in almost every corner of the earth, from rock cliffs to city sidewalks.
The Rock Pigeon (Columba livia), which we probably see most often is a monogamous bird, and both parents share in the raising of the typical two- squabs-per-brood.
The little feathered squab in the picture is about 22 days old and is considered a gourmet delicacy that is sent to slaughter after its first month of life.
Yes, domestically raised pigeons are considered a main course treat.
One can buy farm-raised squab from places such as Marx Foods, and get an 18-pound box of 24 (11 to 12 ounce birds) for $243.40, which includes overnight FEDEX shipping. (I don’t know about you, but for everyday dinners that kind of blows my weekly grocery budget.)
However, if you should be so lucky as to find a smaller quantity of squab from your local butcher, Chef Emeril Lagasse has a superb recipe for Pan Seared Squab with a Dried Cherry Reduction Sauce.
If baby pigeons are considered a delicacy, why is it the adult bird is considered such a nuisance?
Pigeon guano is part of the problem, as the birds indiscriminately litter everything from statues to human heads, and there is an ever-so-slight slight risk that their droppings contribute to such diseases as psittacosis, , cryptococcosis and histoplasmosis. They also contract the West Nile Virus but do not spread it to humans, but are potential carriers for avian influenza, however, not the deadly H1N1 variety.
Also, adult pigeons are literally murder to statues and historic facades as they love to peck away at marble and other soft stone, gathering calcium carbonate, which they need for their egg laying.
To understand how serious the problem is for some cities, one needs to know that feeding pigeons in places such as St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy is no longer allowed in hopes of quelling the burgeoning bird population.
If you want to find out more about pigeons, there is a terrific website that offers “21 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Pigeons” and is brought to you by deterapigeon - “The Pigeon Deterrent People.” At deterapigeon’s site, you will find answers to such need-to-know questions as, “Why do pigeons bob their head?” and “Are pigeons intelligent?” (The answer to the latter question is a big YES.)
The video below also proves that pigeons are really smart critters – they know how to take public transportation and not pay at the turnstile.
Sure beats winding up on the dinner table.