Pigeon cages on roofs in New York...

So whats the deal with pigeon cages on tops of buildings in New York?

Every movie you see with a scene ontop of a building in New York (except for ‘Devil’s Advocate’ but I digress) show old school wire cages with pigeons in them.

What type of pets do they make? What do they do? Does everyone do this? Do you need a permit?

Thanks in advance…

I can only speak to this as a native Manhattanite, who remembers the flocks of pigeons that used to routinely ply the skies when he was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Remembers with a mix of fondness and disgust, as the idyllic image was tempered by the occasional rain of urban guano, sure to spoil any sunny spring afternoon, even in the pre-pooper-scooper days.

All I can say is, it used to be a lot more popular than it is now. It probably had a lot to do with the gentrification/yuppy influx that occurred in many neighborhoods in the 80’s. A lot of longtime local residents moved out/were priced out, and many new New Yorkers moved in who were unfamiliar with the city’s customs.

In fact, I can’t recall the last time I saw a local flock of domestic pigeons. I expect the movies you are referring to date to before the 80’s.

I meant, of course, “the change probably has a lot to do with…

Okay, threephi, but what did people do with them?

Could they do tricks? Were the carrier pigeons?


well, This is New York, so I can only imagine what people did with them… OK that was a cheap shot. :rolleyes:

I have never kept birds myself and I think only once did I see birdcages on a roof up close, when I was a boy. As far as I know, they were just pets. The only tricks I ever saw them do was fly circles around their home building and crap all over the street. :wink:

They were a lot prettier, cleaner, and well-behaved than the usual flying rats, however.

Today there is an article on ESPN.com’s Page 2 by Bill Simmons (The Sports Guy) that touches on this subject. The focus is on Boxer Mike Tyson and the pigeons he keeps on a sixth floor rooftop in Harlem.
(Simmons is also a writer for ABC’s Jimmy Kimmell Live)


There was a sort of competitiveness about pigeon keeping as I recall from my days in NYC in the 50s & 60s. Owners of flocks in adjacent neighborhoods would “fly” their birds at the same time each day in an attempt to capture each others pigeons. Usually some of the birds from the smaller flock would transfer to the larger flock. Big status symbol among pigeonkeepers.