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Urban pigeon -- safe to eat?


ScoopKW
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OK, I'd like to know if there's any compelling reason why I can't shoot the pigeons in my back yard and eat them.

They're going to be shot regardless -- they're fouling my tile roof, and there's no ordinance against shooting them where I live. So these suckers are soon to be shuffling off their mortal coil.

But I dislike the idea of wantonly killing animals -- even pests.

So why not eat them? Pastilla is a delicacy in Morocco -- isn't that just basic urban pigeon, boiled, and made into a pie?

First of all, these pigeons are healthy. I know a sick bird when I see one. These pigeons are fat and happy -- living on a diet of inconsiderate neighbors' dog kibble and drinking from my irrigation system. They're desert birds, which means vermin and disease are at a minimum. And I could shoot four a day, easy, for a few months before putting a dent in the population.

I'm not at all squeamish about eating them -- I know what crab and lobster eat, and shellfish is still on my menu. So, "ewww gross" factor aside, can anyone provide reason not to clean a few and boil them?

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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They're going to be shot regardless -- they're fouling my tile roof, and there's no ordinance against shooting them where I live. So these suckers are soon to be shuffling off their mortal coil.

Eat 'em. I would anyway.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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I read this topic and felt I was not at all against the idea in theory, but was worried about what they eat. I don't mean in terms of the "euw, gross" factor -- that's just silly -- but in terms of urbanized birds concentrating pollutant toxins in their bodies, the way fish in urban rivers do.

I couldn't resist the challenge of doing a little Google-diving, and found this long thread of answers to the question "Can I eat a city pigeon?" There's a whole lot of speculation from no evidence on there, but towards the end you run into some links to hard evidence about accumulation of lead in the bodies of urban pigeons, and pigeons as major carriers of Chlamydia. So, alas, it sounds like just harvesting the feral pigeons would not be a good idea.

A few people in that thread, however, do suggest raising pigeons for food, starting with breeding pigeons bought specifically for the purpose. I confess I don't know a thing about pigeon keeping other than having seen urban rooftop pigeon coops in movies, but apparently it's a done thing.

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Pigeon is served all over the place in China. On my last month-long trip, I think we had more pigeon than chicken. I'm hoping those were farmed, but knowing China, I wouldn't doubt that some were urban and shot.

Do you have problems getting the bullet or pellets out? I don't know much about shooting. Could you use a BB rifle?

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Pigeons are fairly tame; why not trap them instead of shooting? I've plucked my share of waterfowl, and removing shot from a bird is a pain (unless you don't mind biting down on pellets in your dinner). Save yourself the trouble and build a simple bird trap, baited with dog food. Yes, you'll have to wring their necks...

ETA: here's an image of a homemade bird trap. This sitehas how-to instructions.

Edited by HungryC (log)
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Pigeons have a very strong homing instinct, but they are also prolific breeders, so if you get rid of some of them, it isn't likely that others will arrive spontaneously to take their place, but it is likely that the ones that remain will breed new ones.

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Pigeons have a very strong homing instinct, but they are also prolific breeders, so if you get rid of some of them, it isn't likely that others will arrive spontaneously to take their place, but it is likely that the ones that remain will breed new ones.

Exactly.

An exterminator said I had a few options:

1) Let the pigeons ruin my roof and pay $50,000 in a few years to replace it.

2) Let him spray sticky goop on my roof, which would discourage pigeons, but would also be harmful to native birds.

3) Pay $200 each for humane traps, then drive the trapped birds 30 miles from my house to an animal control facility.

4) Buy an air rifle.

That thread mizducky mentioned is enough to put me off the idea -- lead and chlamydia are not on my menu.

But it seems to me that the pigeons that live in my neighborhood -- eating dog kibble, crickets and drinking from my vegetable garden irrigation system -- aren't much different than the rock doves of Europe.

But I certainly don't want to have to explain to my wife how I contracted a sexually transmitted disease from a pigeon.

It's a shame I can't send one off for testing.

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Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Rats with wings

It's not that bad pulling buckshot out of birds. The last set of wild duck I bought from Selfridges had to have the pellets taken out.

Okay, you're going to cook these things to death. I consider eating a pigeon akin to eating a rat, which means high temperatures to kill off any diseases.

That said, what's a little more heavy metal? The pigeons are living in the same environment we are.

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you can still get weil's disease from eating cooked rat. So i bet you could still get chlamydia from cooked pigeon. That is what the eeew gross is for... the crap that they eat.

getting shot out should not be an issue. All the game we ate growing up was still full of shot. You just dont bit down to hard.

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The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

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But I certainly don't want to have to explain to my wife how I contracted a sexually transmitted disease from a pigeon.

If you did, though, the storytelling value would be enormous.

How urban are these pigeons? Do they have access to worrisome toxins? I'd probably not be inclined to eat a New York City pigeon, but would have no trouble eating a Burlington, Vermont, pigeon. Once.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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But I certainly don't want to have to explain to my wife how I contracted a sexually transmitted disease from a pigeon.

I think that may be one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. :laugh:

I've wondered about local pigeon before as well but felt silly asking about it so I'm glad you did. Thanks! I live in just about as un-urban an environment as you can live in and still be in a town. Population 5,500 (about 1.5x the population of the highschool where I grew up) spread over a very large land area and no large cities within 6 hours drive. No industrial business/waste of any type locally. We actually see very few pigeons in the area to begin with, our major bird pests are the ravens. I eat locally hunted partridges without hesitation... but I ended up passing on the pigeons. Mainly because they're so rare here that I thought they may just be on a refueling stop while traveling between cities.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall shot and cooked pigeon from his neighbour's property on one of his River Cottage show. He did not seem worried about diseases but did mention he would not eat a city pigeon in another show.

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I hope you are a good shot, or there won't be much worth eating. Picking through three pounds of bird for a pound of shot could be a big downer.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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You would have much better results if you trap the birds and grain them for a couple of months and keep them from flying so they will fatten up a bit.

You do have to be careful with their waste and the dust from their plumage. A very good friend of mine became very ill and was finally diagnosed with histoplasmosis and another fungal infection after trapping and handling some pigeons that were nesting in the recessed windows of his downtown L.A. office.

He was quite ill for several months.

Wear a good high density particle mask (not the painting masks) whenever you may be exposed to the dust from dried droppings and from the birds themselves.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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you can still get weil's disease from eating cooked rat. 

You can certainly get it from handling the rat while preparing and cooking it, but if it is properly cooked, that should kill the bacteria. AFAIK leptospira does not make any heat-resistant spores. Nor does chlamydia.

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How urban are these pigeons? Do they have access to worrisome toxins? I'd probably not be inclined to eat a New York City pigeon, but would have no trouble eating a Burlington, Vermont, pigeon. Once.

I live on the outskirts of Las Vegas. I can see the city from my kitchen. But the city doesn't really affect me unless I want it to.

Anything living around here is living on a diet of kibble, crickets, my vegetable garden, some fruit trees, and drinking from my irrigation system.

There isn't anything industrial for at least a few miles -- no commercial buildings, no factories, no nothing. I'm far enough out in the sticks to see roadrunner, fox and rabbits. It's a couple miles to the closest restaurant -- so not even dumpsters.

And the soon-to-be-ex-pigeons are so fat they can barely strain themselves up to the top of my roof. Since their water source is my garden (and they have an uncanny ability to time my irrigation schedule), all I need do is plink them from a range of 20 feet with an air rifle.

As for "fattening them up" -- done. I have some craptastic neighbors who leave dog kibble out all day. It's so hot the dogs don't want to eat anything. So crickets and pigeons feast on dog food all day. Then they nest on the roof and do their damage. Some of these birds are so fat they can barely fly. I could boil them down for pigeon schmaltz.

So, yeah, I'm still up for eating a few. I just want to make sure I don't end up being nominated for the Darwin Awards.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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"Some of these birds are so fat they can barely fly. I could boil them down for pigeon schmaltz."

Does anyone know if PIGEON SCHMALTZ is kosher ? :biggrin:

Edited by Aloha Steve (log)

edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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Classification-wise, under the kosher dietary laws, pigeon is just like chicken. So there's no theoretical reason why pigeon, and pigeon fat, wouldn't be kosher. However, a pigeon would have to be slaughtered and handled according to the prescribed rituals, so shooting a wild one with an air rifle would render it unkosher. Chances are, to produce kosher pigeon, one would need to raise them on farms and process them according to the kosher dietary laws.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I've heard this unsubstantiated story . . . Beijing imported a large quantity of pigeons a few years prior to the Olympics to give the city a more "Western Urban" look, but they all wound up eaten by the residents. No idea if it's true.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I've heard this unsubstantiated story . . .  Beijing imported a large quantity of pigeons a few years prior to the Olympics to give the city a more "Western Urban" look, but they all wound up eaten by the residents. No idea if it's true.

The part about importing pigeon sounds too dumb to be true... although you never know... the part about eating them seems more likely given that pigeon is a widely accepted delicacy over there.

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It's a shame I can't send one off for testing.

Testing was my very first thought when I read your first post, so I'm wondering why you couldn't do that. Have you talked with anyone at the Health Department or UNLV about it?

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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  • 3 years later...

Do you mean the feral pigeons that you see in towns and city centres? If so, please consider these are often baited by local councils/ local authorities and they may not be safe to eat if they have eaten poison. Pests often build up a resistance to poisons and require ever increasing amounts of poison to eradicate them. Furthermore, you do not know what they have been eating and I am sure they would not taste very pleasant.

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