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Birds of a feather flocking together

September 25, 2015


This afternoon (Friday, September 25, at 4:08 p.m, to be precise) I almost caught some pigeons doing something really cool.

Several times every day in the South Granville area, flocks of the soiled doves take wing and do some stunt flying that transcends their earthbound reputation for being nothing but lazy, doddering scavengers out for a handout.

I usually see them doing it between 3 and 4-o’clock and today I came within a hair of photographing them in the act.

Something that flighty pigeons take seriously


The object of the exercise is to end up sitting in two perfect rows.

What 30 or so pigeons will do is fly over the intersection of West Broadway Avenue and South Granville Street en masse. They fly in from the south and straight at the RBC Royal Bank building on the northeast corner of the intersection.

The shadows of the birds race up the face of the building to catch up with the approaching flock, which suddenly…

turns away and circles around for another approach and,
turns away and circles around for another approach and,
turns away and circles around for another approach and,

then finally, after three passes or so, lands in unison in two long neat rows along the top of the south face of the building.

I’ve only ever been a “pigeon” in the slang sense of one easily duped so I have no insight as to why real pigeons do this. I  can easily imagine that they derive some kind of pleasure or satisfaction from the “groupiness” and the precision flying (I certainly would).

I’m also guessing that this is hard-wired behaviour and that flocks of pigeons do this on other buildings in other parts of Vancouver as well as the rest of the world.

So it’s likely neither unique nor particularly special (I’ve already seen it more times than I can count on South Granville).

But if I live to be a hundred, I know that I’ll never tire of watching pigeons for the nth time, perform this mesmerizing synchronized flying maneuver, where ever and whenever I get the chance. Click the top image to enlarge it.

From → Birds, Fairview, Pigeons

  1. I’ve watched pigeons doing the same thing on Granville Island. They come so close to the people eating outside it kind of adds to the entertainment.


  2. Slowcrow permalink

    Yeah, maybe it is a wide world activity but, how many times nowadays is it noticed? Thanks for noticing, AND, thanks for posting! Amazing and nicely described! 🙂


    • Thanks. People waiting at the 9 Boundary bus stop across the street from the bank have nothing better to watch than the antics of the pigeons (I would think). There may even be regular riders of the 9 who look forward to the spectacle — I certainly hope so.

      I’ll keep trying to get better photos but it’s a fairly quixotic pursuit; the reality is that the camera cannot do the pigeons’ air show justice; you need to see it in person.


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