Wood­ies on the road

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

My route to work each morn­ing takes me along coun­try lanes. I have of­ten flushed as many as 40 wood­pi­geons from the road in just a three-mile stretch. They are usu­ally in groups of two or three birds, sel­dom more. Cu­ri­ously, I rarely see pi­geons on the road when I drive home in the evening. What is at­tract­ing them to the tar­mac?

The birds you see are al­most cer­tainly pick­ing up tiny grains of grit that will aid them when di­gest­ing food in their crop. un­like mam­mals, a bird first stores food in its crop, a sort of soft pouch be­low the throat. Pi­geons will fill their crop dur­ing the day and digest its con­tents at night, which is why you will see pi­geons com­ing in to roost in the evening with packed crops.

The tiny par­ti­cles of grit help the di­ges­tion process. Pi­geon fanciers pro­vide grit for their birds, favour­ing oys­ter shell as it also gives the bird cal­cium. grain is the most im­por­tant part of a pi­geon’s diet, but it is a chal­lenge for the bird’s di­ges­tive sys­tem to cope with such a hard and seem­ingly in­di­gestible food. It seems that pi­geons pre­fer to pick up grit in the morn­ings, when their crops are empty, which ex­plains why you see them on the road at this time. DT

wood­pi­geons will pick up tiny grains of grit to help them digest the food in their crop

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