Here in the UK we often hear complaints from local councils and gardeners about the damage and inconvenience that wild pigeons create and several companies dedicate their resources to eliminating the birds (H + R). Many people feed these urban “pests” and the very acidic and vast amounts of resulting pigeon poo corrodes stonework of buildings, clutters drains and guttering and can make smooth pavements into veritable ice-rinks.
Food left uneaten also encourages mice and rats and dead pigeons can contaminate water supplies. So, what do the Iranians, and particularly those living around Esfahan do about their pigeons?
They build Pigeon Towers and I’m fascinated by these structures. There are many, many such towers in and around the Esfahan area and all are individually designed and architectually unique. Unlike the UK, pigeons are revered in Iran and these pigeon-palaces are considered well deserved. I was lucky enough to see inside one of these towers which just happened to be undergoing some internal maintenance when we arrived. Even Feri had not seen inside one of these so it was an experience for both of us.
The main purpose of these towers is to encourage pigeons to nest in the honeycombed interior, where each bird has their own “pad”, about the same size as a small shoe box. Not wanting to soil their living area, the pigeons then poo on the protruding lip of their nest, and once a year when the tower is opened, the guardian can then easily brush all the guano to the floor sweep it up and use it as fertiliser for locally grown crops. The tower doors are usually sealed with mud so that snakes can’t enter.
The Esfahan area is well-known for its melon and cucumber yields, and I can say from experience that they are deliciously sweet, crisp and full of flavour. Must be the pigeon poo!
Pigeon Towers at Abnil, Linjan, Esfahan Province-April 2012