The Secret Life of Pigeons

Join us as we uncover the little-known world of the humble homing pigeon
“They’re wonderful creatures, wonderful creatures with wings.” Says 11-year-old Callum Brooks, who has just recently started pigeon racing. 

We join Callum and other pigeon fanciers from all over the UK  as they give us an insight into the highs and lows of pigeon racing and find  why a sport that was once a popular pastime of the working classes is now falling out of fashion and is in danger of disappearing altogether. 

We discover the art of  breeding a winning bird from Clive and Jill in Radstock. Head to the back of the Larkhall Inn as pigeons are marked up ready for a Saturday race. Then spend  a morning with the Convoyors as they prepare for the liberation of 5000 birds. And  finally join  Trevor and his son Simon on race day as they anxiously wait to find out if they have won, or even if their pigeons will return home at all.

Produced by Nikki Ruck


One of our oldest companions, the pigeon inspires both love and loathing.
The relationship between humans and pigeons is one of the oldest on the planet. They have been our co-workers; delivering messages, assisting during the war, providing a source of food, a sport and obsession for many, and a suitable religious sacrifice. They helped Darwin with his theory of Natural Selection, have become a powerful symbol of peace and helped us unravel some of the mysteries of navigation. Yet many of us still regard them as vermin, as “rats with wings”. Brett Westwood and Verity Sharp probe into this paradox, and explore how pigeons have helped us and what they can reveal about the homing instinct and what it means for us to feel at home.  Producer Sarah Blunt

Dr Jon Day – Lecturer in English, Kings College, London and Author of 'Homing - on pigeons, dwellings and why we return'.
Ian Evans – Executive Director of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association
Barbara Allen - Author of 'Pigeon'
Gordon Corera - BBC Security Correspondent and author of 'The Secret Pigeon Service'.
Amy Dickin - Awards and Heritage Manager for The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA)
Tim Guilford - Professor of Animal Behaviour, Oxford University & member of the Oxford Navigation Group
Sully pub backs down after dovecote closure row
A backlash on social media prompts a pub to reverse its decision to block a dovecote.

Twelve pigeons stolen from Buxton loft

Liam Barnes

BBC News

Police are appealing for information after 12 pigeons were stolen from lofts in Buxton.

The lofts, on Lightwood Road, were broken into between 16 September and 17 September, Derbyshire Police said.

Racing pigeon
Getty Images