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Name: Amie
Status: other
Age: other
Location: NM
Country: N/A
Date: 8/26/2005

Every night, just before dusk, my boss and I watch a flock of pigeons go through a ritual. They like to hang out at the gas station across the street from our work. They have made the roof above the pump islands their nesting area. At the beginning of dusk they will all rise into the air at once and fly in a circular pattern above the gas station. They go around two or three times, then only half of them land. The other half will circle once more and then land. After that, not a single pigeon will move off that roof and they've gone "to bed" for the night. Our questions are, why do they perform this ritual and why that pattern every night? Why do all the pigeons participate? My guess was to make sure it is safe to nest there for the night and to ensure no predators have moved in.

Your guess is probably right. One basic thing to realize is that like many birds, pigeons are flock birds. They have found that in bird psychology when one bird does something like check for predators, the rest begin to do the same thing. If one or two birds start preening, the rest will start to preen. So by one bird checking for predators before it heads to its nest, the rest will start to do the same thing also, making the whole thing seem like a group ritual.

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