Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wild harvest - bird poo

I was riding my bike down the Yarra to Southern Cross station recently, when this strange structure caught my eye. Closer inspection confirmed my suspicion that this was a pigeon loft. The description on the sign (abridged) states:

"This pigeon loft has been placed here in Batman Park as part of the City of Melbourne's pigeon management program. It is intended to provide an alternative home for the city's pigeons...Pigeons in the CBD have been a nuisance for decades and their droppings cause uncleanliness generally and also damage to city buildings...It houses two hundred nesting boxes for pigeon breeding. Eggs laid will be replaced with artificial eggs intended as a humane way to control and reduce pigeon numbers. Bird feeding around the loft base is permitted to attract birds out of the CBD to this area. Bird feeding is not permitted in any other area around the CBD."

If pigeons roost in here, there must be a lot of droppings. What does the City of Melbourne do with them? I hope they compost them. Pigeon poop is high in phosphorus and nitrogen, making it an excellent fertilizer when composted or brewed into compost tea.
Below a railway bridge

The easiest way to get pigeon manure into your food system is to get the pigeons to fly it in for you. Pigeon coops are used in desert food systems to bring in nutrients for the soil. There's a short descrpition of this on the update to the Greening the Desert video (starts at 6:10).

My eye is now finely tuned to spot these piles of wild compost ingredients. Birds have their favourite roosting spots, and beneath them there is usually a pile of poo.

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