Pigeon magic

I’m interested in re-enchantment – for me, I assume the world is plenty enchanted enough and that I’m just not always good at seeing it. Some things make it easy to feel awe, gratitude and enchantment – a fabulous sunset, a bat skimming low over your head, a close encounter with a fox. And then there’s pigeons. Not the brightest, or the prettiest, or the best singers. Numerous, foolish, occasionally shagging on the roof opposite my window. It’s hard to imagine anyone proudly announcing the pigeon as their spirit animal…

I like to challenge myself, to see the good in things, or the other dimensions of them, to see wonder in the mundane, and so on and so forth. So I set myself ‘pigeons’ as a challenge.

They are a challenge. They’re the noisiest things in the wood, the exact opposite of a ninja with their flappy, quirky flying. They panic each other, walk out in front of cyclists, forget they can fly away to safety, peck anything that might be food. In town they sidle up to anyone eating – not aggressive like seagulls, but optimists and opportunists. Sometimes they ‘sing’ loudly outside my window at first light, and it is hard to hear the beauty in their song, or to be charmed by it.

They have been loved, of course. There’s a history of pigeon racing, because they will find their way home, no matter what, and those same home-finding urges have been used to carry messages in the past. They, and their eggs were also an important part of the mediaeval diet, so far as I know. They have been more valued than they are now.

Mostly we meet the pigeon as an urban creature, more feral pigeon than woodpigeon, eating fast food and crapping on statues. It doesn’t cast them in the best possible light. I’ve also seen pigeons rise in a flock together, coming up out of the mist and bare branches of a winter wood. They had a majesty then, and it was hard to think, watching the flock, that these were the silly birds I am used to.

Which only goes to show how importance context is, and that most things aren’t very enchanting when you catch them in an urban setting with dodgy takeaways. Humans included.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

16 responses to “Pigeon magic

  • niffsoup

    Ah, the humble, clottabussed pigeon…. Mrs M once told me that their disctinct throaty-sqward is them actually saying ‘My heart bleeds, Betty’, – and the more I listened to them, the more i began to ‘hear it’ – which I then realised I could ‘change’ to ‘Morn’up Matlock’ instead! Whole new meaning, and sometimes I even wish them ‘morn’up’ back!

  • Ella Wherry

    I like to believe that their perpetual optimism is holding the line between commercial and mystical…and that one day we might find the balance.

  • cassandralathamjones

    Laughed out loud at your last paragraph! 😀

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Our doves here in the desert remind me of pigeon, many of the same habits. Just as our desert quail remind me of chickens with their habits. Chickens, I have some personal experience in raising. Pigeons of course I saw a lot of when I lived in the city. Also the invasive English sparrow.

  • saillehedgepenny

    I worked in bird rescue for three years and learned to love our humble pigeons. They are clever, quirky and tenacious. I’ve seen them meet and fall in love with other patients, grow from pink dumplings into strong adults, firm attachments to humans and other species and other generally awesome things. They are remarkable creatures, thank you for giving them some good publicity 😀

  • Siobhan Johnson

    Pigeons, for me, are almost the footsoldiers of Nature’s army, kind of like the avian version of moss. Same for seagulls. No matter how much concrete you pour on the world, there will always be moss, pigeons and often seagulls.

  • Blodeuwedd

    My next door neighbour rescued a young pigeon from their cat (who is a psychopath), and raised it. They watched with great trepidation as it learnt to fly. It still comes back to see them sometimes. They named it “Bob’.

  • Carol Lovekin

    I’m very fond of wood pigeons. Do you know Kate Bush’s interpretation? She used their song as part of her inspiration for the album ‘Aerial’ & the second disc: A Sky of Honey. I listen to it almost every day – it’s the soundtrack to my writing. xXx

  • Robin

    I love watching wood pigeons perform their elegant glides where I live, they swoop in a most angelic fashion and then when the swoop peaks they go down into a little trough, where they flap their wings a bit before rising to the swoop

  • angharadlois

    Many of the pigeons who have made themselves at home in our towns are descendants of wild rock doves – our buildings mimic the cliffs that would have been their natural habitat. Rock doves were the oracular birds of Dodona, which lived in the sacred oak trees and spoke with the voice of Zeus. I always like to remember that, when I meet them on the street.


    “The people of that time, not being so wise as you young folks, were content in their simplicity to hear an oak or a rock, provided only it spoke the truth.” –Socrates, in Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’.

  • catvincent

    Noting that both Sandman and The Invisibles have vitally important and spiritually significant scenes involving pigeons…

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