Pigeon Fanciers Establish The “Raptor Alliance”.

Over the last few weeks there has been some interesting discussion on Mark Avery’s blog with regards to Pigeon Fancying and raptors, in particular Peregrine Falcon and Sparrowhawk.



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It seems that there is a real lack of understanding of ecology and a real fear that somehow the Pigeon Fanciers have been hoodwinked into believing the population estimations provided by the BTO or the figures published by the RSPB and that these figures are being manipulated in a great big conspiracy by Natural England, the RSPB , the BTO and raptors groups purely to fool the general public into supporting the protection of these species.

At times the discussion got into the realms of complete fairy tale with comments about the RSPB not supporting endangered songbirds species because of their blinkered love of raptors, or how they were responsible for erecting nest boxes for Sparrowhawks in urban areas and being responsible for reintroductions of species that have recovered naturally, and eventually a call for a reintroduction of Eagle Owls to help combat the problem.

There was even a website (now removed) detailing how the Sparrowhawk is responsible for the declines to garden birds in the UK.


” Have you ever noticed the morning chorus has gone extremely quiet over the past 20 years or so. The powers that be, who have sustained the basically man made countryside environment. Have somehow become so infatuated with the BOP programme, have seemed to have overlooked some of it more severe implications. Not only the devastating effects it’s having on on pigeon racing and the survival rates of the racing pigeon. But also the devastating effects it having on the survival on our smaller populations of birds that frequent our gardens”

And an e-petition calling for :-

“Debate the overpopulation of Predatory hawks inhabiting Urban Areas

To stop the relentless onslaught on the populations racing pigeons, bird aviaries and the population of garden birds.”

Some suggestions were made as to possible deterent measures that could be taken but it appeared that most of these had already been tried and at best had, had a short success before the Sparrowhawk became tolerant of the method(s) used.

One thing of great concern throughout the debate was the veiled threats about “taking things into their own hands” , and how desperation and anger is not a combination that should be taken lightly.

Which led to some people keeping an eye on the forum where things such as Larson traps


or Peregrines http://pigeons.forumotion.com/t2488-preditor-nestcam where discussed.

And finally this post about the Raptor Alliance http://pigeons.forumotion.com/t4461p15-brithish-homing-world-page-10#75256 which has a scan of a page from Brithish Homing World Page 10

Which goes on to explain that

For the past 6 months the Racing Pigeon Homing Unions from the UK and Eire have been working on the formation and development of a group called The Raptor Alliance.

And an update of some of their aims and progress

1) To act as a single voice on the matter of Hawk predation

2) They have met with the governments (DEFRA) Wild Bird Polic advisers who are to brief the Government Minister and present the case from the Raptor Alliance point of view, with the following aims

a) Highlight the growth of Sparrowhawk numbers and the subsequent detrimental effect on the sport of pigeon racing.

b) A presentation including reference to the numbers leaving the sport, hotspots of Sparrowhawk activity making the flying of pigeons impossible, the financial and commercial implications, the failure of all known deterants and highlighting how pigeon fanciers have no legal protection in law for their pigeons.

3) The presentation outlines 3 simple objective

a) To submit several test applications for WMLA08 licenses to be able to remove Sparrowhawks in known and proven ‘hotspot’ areas

b) To ensure that adequate controls are put in place regarding the current irresponsible introduction of raptors in natural habitats.

c) To ensure pigeon racing is suitably represented when the proposed law commision review of the animal welface act 1981 takes place.

It then goes on to explain how it will be funded and what studies they wish to be undertaken, it mentions a new e-petition and finally it advises against any illegal action being taken as this results in bad publicity with negative consequences.

28 comments to Pigeon Fanciers Establish The “Raptor Alliance”.

  • Jimmy

    Maybe we should set up the “Feral pigeon” alliance highlighting the public health nusiance of feral pigeons in towns and cities.

    • John Thompson

      Maybe we should Jimmy , as a fancier I would love to see a sustainable program put together to reduce ferrel pigeons in urban areas , they have disease , injured and are sum what of a problem . But let’s not believe a racing pigeon is the same as a ferrel , yes every now and then a racing pigeon will choose to inter grate with them but on the whole they are a different caliber of pigeon . Racing pigeons are clean athletes that don’t bother the public in any way shape or form , there aim is to home from one destination to another as quick as possible . During both world wars pigeons saves thousands of lives by crossing enemy lines to send messages sometimes hundreds of miles .

      Sparrow hawks , peregrines ect are also wonderful birds and as a bird lover I’m not wanting to see them disappear , but over the past few years I’m seeing more and more pigeons returning from races that have been attacked , also in the street I’m seeing song birds taken out and ravished in front of me . The RSPB have no care for these birds there only interested in protecting raptors , that are now a major problem as there over populating . We see cameras on cathedrals were a raptor will take it’s pray (normally a racing pigeon) and shread it to bits and the RSPB condone this ! Raptors have the taste for our domesticated pigeons over the feral pigeons don’t think there doing the councils any favours there simply not .

      Editor’s Comment. John, welcome to the real world.

  • Quite accurate, although I feel some facts have been manipulated.
    Nestboxes for sparrowhawks? Surely not, as many of us know they are not nestbox breeders.
    The figures speak for themselves and also contradict themselves at times.
    I stand by my convictions and will say, we are not making this up as this problem has been ongoing for over 20 years. But has got worse every year.
    We are not raptor persecutors, we are just normal people with a great love of our birds.
    As someone said on the my guest blog. ‘Opinions Opinionated’ I couldn’t agree more.

  • As a raptor lover, falconer, and former pigeon fancier I can well understand anyone complaining after seeing their beloved birds being killed or injured by predators. Be they top class racing pigeons or fancy doves in a dovecote the effects on their owners are ones of sadness and then anger. Foxes, stoats, weasels,and rats can be legally controlled, but birds of prey are seen as untouchable and this amplifies the hostility toward them.
    However none of the above is any excuse for the nonsense being spouted by some of the aggrieved, and the illegal activities of some of them.
    Neither peregrines or sparrow hawks have been introduced anywhere in the UK, though nest boxes have been provided for falcons that have shown an interest at certain sites.
    Removing hawks or falcons from certain areas is a total waste of time and effort since suitable territories are always re-populated by new birds. I do not believe that any government will allow the killing of birds of prey but if enough noise is made by the right people, then a sensible wild take by falconers, targeting the most sensitive areas, would appease the pigeon racing fraternity and the game shooters. This is the way forward since it would leave the adult birds in their territories but with less young to feed.

  • Seb Loram

    Gary, not being funny but your “hobby” is of no importance to any other human beings apart from your peers. It certainly doesn’t warrant raptor control in any way, shape or form.

    Bird of prey numbers 20 – 30 years ago were UNNATURALLY low due to the effects of DDT and other pesticides. If it wasn’t for the moaning pigeon fanciers it is likely that we would have lost peregrine falcons completely, so for that I say thanks!

    What you and your colleagues seem to be incapable of understanding is that pigeons are animals. An animal that other animals find very tasty, so when they are released to fly around they will inevitably get eaten.

    Bringing the garden bird argument into raptor control is ridiculous. The fact that we feed garden birds and put up nestboxes etc means that if anything the prey items are artificially high. A predator population will grow to a point when food supply and nesting habitat is saturated, populations over that point are short lived, and the balance is restored.

    Not forgetting of course that the domestic cat has by far the biggest impact on songbird numbers.

    Killing or “controlling” BOP will make naff all difference!!

    Also, maybe you should be careful about how your hobby continually promotes and calls for ILLEGAL activity.

    Anyway, on a personal note I watched my local peregrines destroy 3 pigeons this morning. That is all.

    • lewis nelson

      I COULD NOT DISSAGREE MORE ‘Gary, not being funny but your “hobby” is of no importance to any other human beings apart from your peers.’

      I must say this is rediculous you probablly woudent be here if it was for pigeons in ww1 and ww2 and what is to say a possible ww3 may happen in the future I think you have not considered that comment thier is a saying where ignorence is bliss and you are showing pure ignorence raptors are the cause of many disasters that are being caused in the british isles for exsample starlings dropped by 29 percent in the past two decades which are quite obviously caused by increasing peragrine and sparrow hawk populations.You may try to disagree but put 2 and 2 together falcon numbers are going up song birds and other well loved birds are going down The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds This should be changed to the rspr royal society for the protection of raptors.

    • John Thompson


      I find your attitude and childish words offensive , racing pigeons have saved lives not only during ww1 and 2 but also mentally Ill people today , they offer comfort and companionship . What do BOP offer you ? A sick disturbing enjoyment of watching a animal ravish another ?????

  • paul williams

    RSPCA officers find 21 perfectly preserved wild birds in jars stuffed in freezer at man’s home
    Christopher Searle had 21 dead birds stored in jars and 16 live wild birds at his home in Braunton, Devon. The birds found in his possession included greenfinches, chaffinches and a bullfinch.

    • Yes, 21 dead birds, how sad. DDT and its derivatives killed millions of songbirds and raptors yet no premises were raided, no arrests ever made, nor charges brought. Of course we were told that it was safe, about as poisonous as aspirin, and farmers thought it was “heaven sent”, despite the fact that they and their employee’s had to dress up like spacemen to use it.

  • darren palmer

    seb i am sorry to say but some of your comments are very derogatory towards pigeon fanciers and as for your personal note its quotes like this that have brought about the wrongful persecution of the birds that you love,as with comments like that you will only infuriate and are of no help at all.the above article seems to only highlight the bad comments from pigeon fanciers and is not a true reflection of all pigeon keepers thoughts and ideas.

  • Jimmy

    For the benefit of Doug – foxes, rats etc. have never been protected since their population levels and basic ecology have never indicated that this was a problem – on the other hand most raptors nearly went extinct in the absence of protection and a number of species are still threatened due to widespread and ongoing illegal persecution of which too manny in the pigeon fraternity want to turn a blind eye too among their own ranks.

    • For Jimmy, where or when did I suggest that foxes,rats, etc have ever been or needed protection? I simply stated that these species could be legally controlled if they became a nuisance to anyone, unlike birds of prey that are fully protected whatever they do. As for you saying that “most raptors nearly became extinct in the absence of protection”, this is quite untrue. Before 1954 there were no laws against killing birds of prey but their numbers were stable in many areas apart from on some of the large shooting estates. It was pesticides that dramatically reduced the bird catching hawks and falcons, but only in and around the intensively farmed parts of the UK. In the more remote areas, peregrines and sparrowhawks thrived and reared good sized broods. Likewise, kestrels and buzzards, though absent from some counties, continued to thrive in others. Merlins and harriers also held their own on many moors. Once the pesticide threat was removed our birds of prey began to recolonise their old haunts, only to be met with a more modern threat. Game shooting had gone from being a traditional country sport to huge money making enterprise and anything that was perceived as a threat to the business had to be dealt with.
      Exactly the same thing happened to pigeon racing. Once the sport of the working man, everything changed in the 1970’s. A few wealthy business men set up stud lofts and began buying up all the champions of the racing pigeon world. These birds were paired together and the progeny sold. A fancier near me entered one of his birds into the first racing pigeon Grand National of the season. The racepoint was Nantes in france, a distance of around 250 miles. In decent weather conditions this would take a good bird 5 to 6 hours to get home. This particular pigeon took 12 hours to home but it was clear from her condition that she had been on the wing the whole time. This made her an ideal candidate for the big grand national that was in a month or six weeks time. This time the distance was 500 miles across France and finally the English channel before she reached home. She won the the race and both she and her owner became overnight celebreties, not just in the pigeon world but on local TV and media. Within days the owner was offered many thousands of pounds for his champion bird, and days later his loft was broken into and the bird along with others stolen. The sport and many of its participants changed almost overnight. Top local fanciers who up till then would give any serious beginner eggs or young from their best birds, suddenly began asking silly money for them. Then came accusations of people tampering with timing clocks which was unheard of before.
      Like game shooting, pigeon racing had become a big money spinner and anything that could be a threat became an enemy.
      During this time I subscribed to the Racing Pigeon Weekly and would often read reports of pigeon rings being found in or around falcons eyries, but there was none of the anger among pigeon fanciers that exists today.
      Finally Jimmy, the populations of peregrines and sparrowhawks have remained high and stable for the last 25 years, despite the efforts of some rogue gamekeepers and pigeon fanciers.

  • John Taylor

    In answer to Jimmy’s comment about the health issue and cleaning up of pigeon mess, who cleans up the nesting sites of the Peregrines who now inhabit towns and cities and take up residence on the ledges of historic buildings? Excrement is unhealthy whatever bird or animal it is from and looking at some of the urban nesting sites of these birds, they make just as mess as the feral pigeons, also causing a health and safety issue for members of the public.

  • Seb Loram

    John, saying that peregrines pose a health and safety risk is possibly the most mental argument I have ever heard!

    For what it’s worth I personally don’t agree with providing artificial nesting options in urban areas, if natural occupation occurs then fine, but we must leave nature to regulate itself rather than continually interfering in both positive and negative ways.

    If people were honest and didn’t manipulate the science then we could potentially have an informed debate about raptor numbers. But since gamekeepers and pigeon fanciers seem to constantly spin the science I can’t see that happening.

  • Circus maximus

    When pigeon fanciers turf their pets out into the wild they just have to live with the consequences. Raptors are part of nature in the same way that weather and the earths magnetic field. There are other hazzards out in the big bad world too eg helicopters, fire etc. As the hobby involves putting their pets in harms way- they just have to learn to accept the risks.

  • jeff terry

    Doug Tricker is that the Doug Tricker from havant you sir was the very man who started me in racing pigeons would love to get in toutch jeff terry

    • Yes Jeff, the very same, how are you? This is not a social networking site, its about discussing ways of protecting British birds of prey from those whom would like to wipe them out. Lovers of game shooting, pigeon racing and song birds are all entitled to express their opinions, but the fact remains that BOP are protected by law. No matter how strongly anyone feels, taking the law into ones own hands is wrong and counter-productive. Great to hear from you Jeff.

      • jeff terry

        I agree with you Doug! You know as well as I do that there are some people who do things just for the sheer hell of it.

        I live in Belfast now, and as you know Pigeon Racing is really big over here. However, there are a lot of Raptors here and they frustrate the fanciers like mad, but it is nature and you cannot go around killing everything you don’t agree with. You just need to take it on the chin and get on with it.

        What really kills me is that the fanciers who do all the shouting about the Raptors are ones that don’t win anything anyway. Also you get the fanciers that go out and buy pigeons every year and when they don’t win at the end of the year they go out and kill lots of them. However if a Peregrine kills one of them then all hell breaks loose!

        • Hi again Jeff, you sure do get around. As you know, when things are not going well, people always look for someone or something to blame. The recovery of raptor populations was always going to be a delight to some and a nightmare for others. If you ever get over to Hampshire, look me up, it would be great to catch up and put the world to rights.

  • lewis nelson

    I must say you are talking from you a*se you dont have a clue many prize winning birds are killed not just ones that dont win anything. Raptors are being helped with reintroductions pigeons are being targeted to be killed in many many ways some racing pigeons get tired when flying 800 miles plus and are killed by councils by netting bridges while they are in which is disbluddygusting.

  • Coop

    Neither of the species you lot bellyache about (Peregrine and Sparrowhawk) have been re-introduced anywhere in the UK. So get your facts right before acusing anyone of “talking from you a*se” (sic)!

    How many “prize winning birds” are lost to bad weather? Are you going to try and get that banned as well?

    If you care about your birds as much as you claim, don’t dump them “800 miles plus” away from home, at the mercy of nature, and expect them all to return safe and sound; pabloodythetic!

    Sterilising the natural world, just to suit you, ain’t going to happen; so live with it.

  • che

    Coop, I’m with you on that one, taking a prized asset 800 miles away and leaving it to its own judgement and fitness…Not my idea of a bird lover

  • Stevie

    Coop, ya nugget these pigeons aren’t just reared and dropped off 800 miles away there fed trained and looked after like athletes from when they are only weeks old they are trained to fly around there loft and when the owner thinks they are ready they are basketed and taken about 10 miles away and released this distance is increased over the next few weeks to about 25 mile for another few weeks until fit and ready for there first race of about 60 mile the race distances are increased by approx 10 to 15 mile every week until the last young bird race which is approx 150 mile 800 miles is a big ask for most birds around 500 is more popular and is a lot to ask but in good conditions is no problem to a fit healthy mature pigeon a win at this level is a dream for most pigeon fanciers.
    SEB LORAM in the middle of June this year I had a pair of wood pekers feeding in my garden never seen in the 10 year I’ve lived there on the Thursday I found one plucked to death on the Saturday the other got the same treatment the nest with 4 dead young was removed and put in the bin all because of 1 b#####d of a sparrow hawk point is 2bop’s and nine dead birds but that’s life I suppose.

  • Seb Loram


    Having translated your gobbledygook I am at a loss as to what exactly your point is?

    Pigeons are released into the sky where other birds eat them, this is nature. If you walked across the serengeti you would get eaten by a lion. I cannot see how pigeon fanciers can complain about bird of prey numbers when they are only now at a NATURAL level following decades of persecution and recovering following the effect of DDT and other pesticides.

    Interstingly this year I have spoken to the owner of 14 racing pigeons after finding prey remains at raptor sites. I told them I had the bird in my garden and it seemed weak,


    This doesn’t say much for the caring nature of these birds’ owners!! Clearly it doesn’t matter how these birds met their end as the owners were happy for them to be killed.

    At the end of the day birds of prey such as sparrowhawks eat other birds, this is natural. The population will increase depending on the availability of prey and suitable habitat for breeding.

    Im afraid that predation is a risk you take when releasing pigeons into the natural world. Birds of prey should certainly not be controlled simply because they are eating birds.

  • Coop

    Is that the best excuse you’ve got? Learn something for a change, instead of regurgitating the same old cobblers pal!

  • paul williams

    Sparrow hawks catch on the wing. the ones removed from the nest were no doubt removed by your beloved magpie or jay.Dont blame the spar for every fatality of garden birds

  • saveourpigeons

    Sometimes non fanciers and non pigeon lovers actually fail to see the big picture, you bitch and moan about feral pigeons being everywhere especially in town centres. of late I have been doing a bit of studying of feral pigeons. If I said they actually do us a great service, many would probably disagree. But in reality they do. Why do feral pigeons in habit public places?
    Food an abundance of it. Lets take a typical Friday or Saturday night, many people go out to clubs and bars after a few beers people call to chip shops, takeaways, pizza shops etc. What do they do with what they don’t eat?
    Obviously in a perfect world they throw it in a bin. But they don’t, do they.

    Tons of waste food must get discarded onto our streets, which is eagerly eaten by the hoards of street pigeons.
    What would happen if you took the feral pigeon out of this equation? You would have hoards of rats savaging the streets eating all this discarded food, which would pause a serious health risk to us all. So when you see the big picture, it’s not only the pigeon fanciers that contribute to the hoards of street pigeons, everyone of us do.

    Doug I know a similar story about an outstanding pigeon being stolen from it’s loft. It was a bird called Home Alone.

    Editor’s comment. The problem with loads of feral pigeons eating the rubbish that people discard onto our streets, they then deposit the end result from their rear ends on to the same streets, which in most cases is contaminated with parasitic worms and even salmonenla. Not very hygenic.

  • Marysia Porter

    The peregrines and the sparrow hawks have killed 46 of my husbands rolling pigeons in 2015 it is not right he loves is birds and the kids do it is not right the kids have to go in when they come. Because it’ upset them