Fitness For Pigeons

I think it’s fair to say that summer has probably taken everyone by surprise this year. One minute it’s cold and wet, the next, hot and sunny. Proper hot. Sweaty feathers dried up throwaway kinda hot. Nice. London feels totally different when it’s like this. Apart from anything else, everyone is in a stonking good mood. Nothing quite like a dose of the old Vit D to lighten the load. Even Steve laughed yesterday. Steve never laughs. Steve is the most serious pigeon I’ve ever met, but here he is having a right laugh:

Good to see.

Anyway, all this summer weather got me thinking. As winter is mainly spent trying to keep warm and tends to involve quite a lot of stationary activity, it’s easy to pile on the pounds. I know I have. Equally, part of the reason for my recent tendency towards extreme lethargy is probably down to a drop in fitness levels.

I decided to go get some advice from Tracy. Tracy started her fitness classes for pigeons a while back. Sadly, attendance was so low she gave up in the end as she found the whole thing “a bit embarrassing”. She’s still got it though.

She said, “Every pigeon is built to be fit, it’s part of who we are, but so many aren’t. Part of the problem is laziness. Flying everywhere is all very well, but unless you’re doing it right, the muscles just don’t get the workout they need… I think lazy flying is the biggest cause of pigeon obesity there is.” I’m sure she’s right. Almost 70% of London’s pigeons are obese. Fact.

I asked her to demonstrate a few moves.

Obviously, this one would normally happen in the air:

She said, “The wing stretch is really important. Getting it right isn’t easy though, especially when flying at speed. You’ve got to really push it out till you feel the feathers spreading. Be careful though, if this isn’t something you’re used to, it can bring on cramp. If that happens, just slow down or stop completely. Rest, and gently stretch.”

“The tail fan. This is pretty tricky. Whatever you do, if you haven’t done it before, try it on the ground first. The key is in the levitation of the shoulders and placing of the wing points. The tips should be touching to maximise the stretch. It also makes it easier to fan as it helps core stability. This is a move that definitely gets easier with practice. If you’re feeling really brave, try fanning left and right independently. Great for the leg and chest muscles.”

Finally, she said that proper breathing and keeping the neck supple are important too. She suggested this move – breathing in and puffing the chest out whilst rotating the head from side to side:

Happy to give that one a shot!

So, that’s it. No more thermal hugging for me. It’s fitness all the way. Give it a month and I’ll be all muscle. Taught rippling muscles with a feathery coating. Aside from looking good, it will probably make me feel generally happier in myself too. Will let you know how I get on.

April 23, 2009. Uncategorized.


  1. Weight Loss replied:

    Animals do exercise so in short we humans also need this to be physically fit..

  2. pigeonblog replied:

    Weight Loss: I’ll let Tracy know. She may be up for kick-starting those classes again. You never know.
    Your pal

  3. Becci replied:

    You’ll be interested to know that we have a wildlife rescue centre a few cities over. (I took a pigeon there once!) Apparently the people in charge have the same opinion you do in regards to chunky pigeons–the heavier ones have a note on their chart that says, “This pigeon is overweight–chase him.” The point being, of course, that the pigeon will fly rather than choose the far less strenuous route of bobbing wherever he needs to go.

  4. Pigeon Rachel replied:

    I have a dog (some pigeons in the counrty do), and he loves chasing pigeons. Must be why they’re all healthy here. (He’s trained not to catch them, btw).

  5. pigeonblog replied:

    Becci: “This pigeon is overweight – chase him!” – that’s genius! I’m thinking t-shirts perhaps…?
    Your pal

    Pigeon Rachel: Nice one! Pal to the pigeons! Maybe I should send some Londoners to you for a work out?
    Your pal

  6. Pigeon Rachel replied:

    They’re very welcome to join us Bri, excercise for the 2 and 4 legg-ed kind! The bluebells look lovely, but they’re just on the way out now …

  7. Britblog Roundup 219: The Not the Budget Black Hole Edition replied:

    […] Dave Cole has created 30+ Twitter feeds for the news feeds from the Central Office of Information. Richard Rothwell notes the strange spike in marginal tax rates at £100,000-£120,000 before it drops again for people who earn even more. The Himmelgarten Cafe suggests some exercises for children. Or you could try exercises for … er … Pigeons […]

  8. pigeonwriter replied:

    Marvellous photos!

  9. RoooRoooo replied:

    Please do congratulate her on her her tail fan – rather impressive!
    Swedish exercises are the solution- do you happen to know Swedish pigeons?

  10. pigeonblog replied:

    pigeonwriter: Cheers!
    Your pal

    RoooRoooo: Nah – wish I did tho. Heard they go like the clappers.
    Your pal

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