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Name: Jon C.
Status: student
Age:  20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 5/28/2003


Question:
When I was on a trip not too long ago, I was sitting outside at a cafe and noticed a pigeon sitting and not moving. Several children were trying to pick it up, but it would waddle away a few feet and return to rest. Finally, the children left it alone and the rest of the pigeons began to pursue and indeed attack this lame pigeon. As it got nearer to me I noticed it was bleeding where the wing met the body near the neck and it was missing a good deal of feathers down its back. What would give a flock of pigeons cause to attack another?


Replies:
I cannot find any specific reference for this behavior among pigeons, but the same sort of thing has been widely reported among domestic chickens, in which it appears to be the end result of the "peck order" among close groups of birds. A dominant bird can peck any other bird in the flock, next in the dominance order can peck all the others, and so on, so that a bird at the bottom of the hierarchy can be pecked by any other bird but peck none. This can result in injury or even death of the bottom bird. I do not know if that was what was happening with the pigeons or not.

J. Elliott


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