Crippled Doves

I’ve recently noticed that a very large percentage of the doves around here (Honolulu) are missing toes. It’s actually rare to spot a dove with all 6 (8…do you count the backwards facing thing?) of his/her toes.

What I want to know is, is this a local phenomenon? I’ve checked other areas on the island (more toeless doves), but didn’t have a chance the last time I was in California.

Also, does anyone have some kind of explanation for the phenomenon? I once saw a dove with human hair wrapped around his/her swollen toes. I don’t know how s/he got it, but that would explain it…only how would the majority of doves get tangled up like that?



PS. Hope the use of the non-PC ‘c’ word won’t affend anyone. After all, doves don’t have anyone to speak for them.

      • I live in Illinois and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bird missing any toes. - MC

Thanks, MC. The thing is (and I’m not faulting your observation, just adding my own) I didn’t notice the toe thing until recently. I used to buy tuna salad sandwiches from the vending machine at the University (maybe 5 years ago) and feed the inedible parts (the majority…sorry, birds!) to the doves around there. Some actually stood on my hand. But today I can’t say whether or not they had all of their toes back then.


When I used to live in Los Angeles and worked downtown, I always noticed birds with mangled claws. I always wondered why there were so many of them. Either they were injuring them and the scar tissue is what I was seeing or there is some sort of genetic mutation going on.

Now I live in San Diego and I haven’t noticed the same phenomenon. Of course, I don’t get to eat in the park too much anymore, either.

I figure most of the time they get it caught in or on something (ever see those anti-bird spikes on building ledges? Toe-kabob waiting to happen) and lost it trying to get away. Or almost became some predator’s lunch, or lost it in a fight. Pigeon life ain’t pretty.

Cave Diem! Carpe Canem!

A lot of the monuments in London have very thin wires on pegs running around them to stop pigesons sitting and defecating on them. These wires are so fine that they are less visible than other detterents, and to my untrained eye look a lot like they could lop a toe or two off an unwary aviator.

It only hurts when I laugh.