Pigeons as pets
Radio interview source: John Heppner, president, National Pigeon Association
Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I used to play in our barn growing up and we had a lot of pigeons that sat on the rafters. When I was about ten, I looked up just as one of them decided to eliminate his dinner. It hit me square in the eye. And it stung.
I don't hold it against all pigeons. There are well over 500 species in existence. Some breeds make terrific pets, and others are pampered possessions that strut from show to show, earning ribbons for their poise and beauty.
People who raise pigeons say they're intelligent, highly trainable and very hardy. John Heppner is president of the National Pigeon Association, and says they're easy to feed, too.
"As far as their food, it's wheat, corn, peas, milo, they produce a pigeon pellet, safflower oil, or a little millet," Heppner says. "You can vary the feed, but pigeons can really get by quite well on a fairly simple diet."
They will enjoy a green treat like lettuce occasionally, too.
Pigeons and people
If you're the one who feeds them, most will come to know and trust you. Of course, that depends on what kind of pigeon you're raising.
"Certain breeds are more friendly and tamer than other breeds," Heppner says. "Some are a little bit more flighty so each breed has kind of their own personality. But any pigeon can be tamed down to be a pet, especially if you hand-raise them from when they're a youngster."
Most pigeon fanciers recommend beginners start with the Birmingham Roller or a homing pigeon. Expect to pay around $20 per bird.
Get a mated pair of pigeons not over three years old that are proven breeders. In warm climates, they'll mate up to six times in a year, but if you experience all four seasons, expect the birds to nest in the spring and summer.
The birds are housed in "lofts," with an indoor area equipped with perches, and a wire aviary outside so they can fly without flying away.
Photo: Copyright NPAUSA.com
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