This Animal Life

Pigeons: The Greatest Love You Lost and Never Knew

November 28, 2021

Join me and my guest, cartoonist Rosemary Mosco, author of The Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching, for a look at one of Earth's greatest love affairs--human and pigeon.

Not too long ago, pigeons were our darlings, and we were theirs, but now pigeons are just somebody that we used to know. What did we see in each other, what went wrong, and can we fall in love again? Rosemary Mosco brings back the magic.

Her conversation, like her book, is freewheeling, informative, and super-cute. Reawaken your appreciation for this clever, loyal, and lovable friend. Learn everything you never knew you dearly wanted to know about the lowly pigeon, your true love bird, who's been right there at your feet all along. 

Want to follow up on our sources or watch any of the videos we mention? Go to and click on Show Notes or see below.


Boomerang the racing pigeon returns to the owner who gave her away TEN years ago,” by David Wilkes, Daily Mail, June 2008.

Bouget and Blanchon in “Pigeon is 80-year-old French pensioner’s best friend,” Gulf News, June 14, 2021. 

Carlen, Dr. Elizabeth, pigeon expert, her website.

Cher Ami, the WWI hero, Wikipedia.

Cher Ami and Major Whittlesy by Kathleen Rooney, Penguin/Random House, August 2020.

Homing Pigeons--Teach Your Birds to Come Home!” Standing Stone Kennels, YouTube, October 2019. 

Mosco, Rosemary, The Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching: Getting to Know the World’s Most Misunderstood Bird: , Workman Publishing Company, October 2021.

Palomacy Pigeon and Dove Adoptions


--and crop milk, Wikipedia.

--and math, “Turns Out, Pigeons Are Just As Good As Monkeys When It Comes to Math,” NPR, December 2011.

-- intelligence, “The Surprising Neuroscience of Pigeon Intelligence,” by Dr. Sebastian Ocklenburg, Psychology Today, July 2019.

--in the movies, Pigeon Movie Database.

--and pants, Pigeon pants on Etsy.

--and reading ability, “Orthographic processing in pigeons” by Damian Scarf et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2016.

-- as term of endearment on Disney’s 1955 Lady and the Tramp, YouTube clip.

--and tail whistles, “Pigeon Whistles in Beijing,” 11 minutes of eerie sound, Mark Zuiderveld, YouTube, December 2017.

--and tricks, Pigeon Trix YouTube Channel.

--and wing clap, “Slow Motion Pigeon Clap,” BBC Earth Unplugged, YouTube, 2013

--and whistle wing alarm, “Pigeons sound a warning call--with their feathers,” Science Magazine, YouTube, November 2017.

Pollan, Michael, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. Random House, 2001.

Renton, Alice, Biography of a Pigeon, Ivy Books 1988.

Trick/Task Fun Training a Pigeon,” starring Freckles, Pigeon Trix, YouTube April 8, 2021.

Vaugh, Don, “Nikola Tesla’s Weird Obsession with Pigeons,” Britannica.


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