By LISA SPEAR
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Throughout history, pigeons, bred by humans to live on rooftops or backyard lofts, have flown hundreds of miles to find their way home.
People have raised pigeons to race them, like thoroughbreds, paying thousands of dollars for a bird. Some say these creatures are able to use the Earth’s gravitational pull to find their way back to where they belong. Others say they use the direction of the sun or the smell of the air to navigate.
Whatever the reason for their keen sense of direction, pigeons have formed a strong bond with the humans who keep them, and in some cases have become part of the family.
“They are actually very loving,” says Heather Truelove, who lives in Belchertown with her twin 11-year-old daughters and their 11 pigeons.
“You think of pigeons as being sky rats in cities, but they are very responsive and they seem to enjoy being touched and talked to.”
As she talks she is cradling one of her birds, who lives in a 7-foot high by 3-foot wide loft in the backyard. The pigeon looks as if it is roosting on her stomach as she leans back, relaxing on her back porch, stroking the bird’s back feathers. If properly cared for, this pigeon will live well into its teen years.
One of her daughters, Skylar Park, is curled up next to her in a hammock chair with the hood of her sweater pulled over her head. A pigeon is inside snuggled next to her cheek. A third bird is loitering on her sister Kaitlyn Park’s shoulder.
“They are soft and cuddly,” Skylar says.