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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Creature Feature: Victoria Crowned Pigeon.

Pigeons have a really bad reputation. To most of the world, they are chattering, flying disease bags hell-bent on destroying our architecture with their corrosive waste. Although white pigeons get to be called the embodiment of Christ, piebald pigeons are still seen as rats with wings. Man, that lady who said, "feed the birds, tuppence a bag" in Mary Poppins must be some kind of diabolical mastermind.

"Every two pence goes to Big Brother!"
 

Remarkably, all the pigeons we have come to recognize as city pests belong to one species (also called "rock doves"). There are plenty of other pigeons out there, including some that look like an artist was on drugs while looking at a regular pigeon.

 

Yes, that is a pigeon. That blue crested head with the striking red iris belongs to the Victoria Crowned Pigeon, a wild pigeon native to New Guinea and some of the surrounding islands. Sexes look alike- no special treatment for the male, which is a rarity among fancy birds like this. It eats fruit, seeds, and small invertebrates - not like the no-class pigeons who eat anything thrown their way.

Victoria Crowned Pigeons are probably the largest pigeons in the world. They can get almost 30 inches long and weigh up to five pounds. As rather large birds, they have been hunted for meat, and have been slated as "Vulnerable" by CITES.

The only species in which EVERY family member looks like Articuno mixed with Lady Gaga.
 

People also keep Victorias as pets. These are not birds that one can just stick in a cage, however. Like all pigeons, VCPs feed on the ground. They also need plenty of space in which to exercise and play. One has to be ready to prepare a whole bedroom for these birds, and they are not cheap. At least they tame down readily! If you must get a fancy pigeon, but don't quite have the space for a VCP, might I recommend a Jacobin rock dove?

 

...never mind.

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