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Opinion: Bill Walton, Roof Chickens

Am I legally responsible for my chickadees’ behaviour?

You see, Mr Bylaw Officer, it is not me feeding the rock doves – I think your report cited them as ‘pigeons’ – but it is the visitors to my feeding station, designed specifically for little birds - even though the squirrels find ways of abusing the food dispenser – who are doing the feeding.

See: This new by-law is literally for the birds

The squirrels are another story. Anyway, the chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays (not the baseball players – yet), redpolls, two finches, a downy and a hairy, are the ones throwing seeds down to the rock doves. I am certain they, even collectively, cannot afford the proposed $100 fine.

Oh, I know we are not supposed to feed any of God’s little creatures. Unless we are going to eat them; except cats and dogs and maybe the odd hamster or gecko. Don’t feed the deer, or the ducks at the waterfront. No throwing crusts of sandwiches to the seagulls when fishing, (crows when hard-water fishing) and certainly not the pizza ribs to the pigeons on Main Street. Heaven forfends we should put up a hummingbird feeder in the summer, or give a peanut to a Chippy. These creatures were not put here for our enjoyment or entertainment.

I do get your point about the damage too many rock doves can do to a roof, or dropping corrosive excrement on cars, patios and even on passersby. The issue, as I see it, is the sheer number of pigeons congregating in an area. One or two, maybe even three pigeons, do not a hazard make. What we need to do is thin the herd. Or a flock, a litter, or a loft as a collective of roof chickens is called.

Look, Mr Bylaw officer, and now the new Council, (the issue has been raised before) at how successfully we have been at keeping the moose numbers under control. Hardly ever do we see a moose in the city. Okay, maybe there was one last year, but that was more of a photo op than a problem. That marten that came to my feeder last year was an anomaly. Wolves and coyotes are only in the outlying areas. Those bothersome bald eagles actually live in Callander and only fly by the waterfront occasionally – never pooping on the swimmers enjoying Shabogesic beach.

We can control these pests.

And we certainly fixed the over-crowding of the pickerel (walleye) in Lake Nipissing! And therein lies the solution to your perceived pigeon problem: we just have to eat more of them. And before you turn up your nose, they taste just like chicken. In fact, in some countries, they fatten their pigeons with the oven in mind.

When it comes to serving pigeon, a breast makes a great appetizer while a whole bird makes a lovely entree. Unlike certain kinds of meat, a pigeon does not need to be cooked until it is well done, so if you are pan-frying, do so until it is pink and then let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving. To roast squab, (that’s the culinary term for young rock doves) you first brown the meat on all sides before covering it in butter and then roasting it in the oven (375 degrees) for about 10 minutes.

About the fattening of the fowl for eating: It is quite legal (so far) to trap a few of these rock doves, put them in a roomy pigeon pen and feed them corn for two weeks before euthanizing them for dinner. Be certain, however, to put a sign on the pen saying these are pigeons, not chickens, as that is against the bylaw. Roof chickens, as they will soon be known in our city, cannot be caught and sold commercially as they are non-migratory fowl under the Act saith my friend at the Ministry of catch and release.

Not to make light of the pigeon feeding problem, but can you envision this issue coming before a council divided by a ward system? The councillor from Ward One (the Olde Downtown) rises to address the serious issue of pigeon feeding; Ward Three (up on the Hill) councillor asks – what pigeons? We have none – maybe a couple of rock doves – I vote nay to the motion. Councillor X from Ward Two, who owes a favour to Y from Ward One, says yea, I agree to subsidize chicken wire for closing up pigeon nesting sites.

Anyway, sorry Ron, your plea for a pigeon-feeder bylaw will fall on deaf ears. There simply isn’t a revenue stream to support this. Besides, think of the business community who are selling pigeon, er bird, seeds – you just have on get onside here.

Now, about that junk on Cassells . . .

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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