The Birds in Your Garden

Columbidae – Pigeons

This is a family of some three hundred species, most of which are found in the tropics. You may love them or hate them, but they are everywhere! The distinction between pigeons and doves is not a taxonomic one, with the term dove tending to be used for the smaller varieties.

Pigeons are famed for their homing ability; from Roman or even Persian times, via the siege of Paris to World War 2, they were used to carry messages. When far from home they use the sun as a compass and can compensate for its movement across the sky; closer to home it seems they use local landmarks to navigate.

Feral or city pigeons are found in cities the world over and are derived from the Rock Dove. Such has been their success that true Rock Doves probably only exist in the wildest corners of northern Europe and Asia. They chose to desert their natural habitat and associate with mankind due to the ready availability of food combined with the breeding and roosting potential offered by buildings, which resemble the cliff faces on which they naturally breed.

Woodpigeon courting is particularly obvious in spring, with much cooing and preening together with explosive nearly vertical short flights and much clapping of wings. Their breeding season never seems to end, and they are regularly recorded having young in their nests from February to November.

This extended breeding season is only possible because, like all pigeons, Woodpigeons produce ‘crop milk’ which is similar to mammalian milk in its composition. It is produced in the crop, a sac-like structure normally used for storing food. This allows the young to be fed even when suitable food is not available.

Pigeons like to eat cabbage, sprouts, peas and grain and one reason for their recent proliferation is the availability of autumn sown brassicas, such as oil seed rape. They will also eat buds, shoots, seeds, nuts and berries, and in autumn can often be seen sitting on cotoneaster hedges.

Stock doves are similar in plumage and size to pigeons, but have neither their pale rump nor the white patches on the side of their throats. They are largely blue-grey with an attractive iridescent bottle green band on the back of the neck. They are widely distributed in the UK with over half their European population being found here.

The Collared Dove, now one of the commonest birds in Britain, is pinky-grey with a distinctive black band on its neck. They first bred in the UK in Cromer in 1955, having spread naturally from their ancestral haunts in Turkey and the Middle East.

Did you know that pigeons can fly……….?

–    at altitudes of 6000 feet or more
–    at average speeds of up to 77 mph and can exceed 90 mph
–    up to 700 miles in a day

And that

–    They drink by sucking water and using their beaks like straws, whilst     most birds sip water and then throw their head back to swallow.
–    The first commercial service using pigeons was established in 1896 in     New Zealand and was known as the Pigeon-Gram Service. It ran from     The Great Barrier Reef to New Zealand, (but not in reverse) with     pigeons covering the distance in under two hours. They carried five     messages, each requiring a special Pigeon-Gram stamp costing 2/- .

If you find the lives of our garden birds to be of interest, and would like to join in and count the feathered occupants of your garden, please contact me or visit the BTO Garden BirdWatch website ( If you know of a local organisation who would like a talk on garden birds call: Mike Gray 07596 366342 or

WAW Easter Walking Festival

Boroughbridge Walkers are Welcome are working hard to make sure their Easter Walking Festival  is once again a successful and enjoyable event for all the visitors  to the area and the local community.

With sponsorship from many businesses in the town, the group this year have three new walks, The Inns of Boroughbridge, Rabbit Hill, and the Kirby Hill map reading experience.

Along with the ever popular Hightimers Ghost Walk and the Roman Ramble, The Beer on T’Brigg Festival at The Coronation Hall and the Chamber of Trade Easter Bonnet and Window shop competition, the Walkers are Welcome Group are supporting the Exhibition and open day for the New Boroughbridge Community Library on Easter Saturday where details of the  Town Treasure Hunt will be available.

For full details  of the weekends events see the complete programme available from the local shops and businesses, or download from – you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Historical Society Easter Display

As part of the exhibition for the opening of the new Community Library for Boroughbridge  on Easter Saturday 15th April, the  Boroughbridge & District Historical Society will be having a display about the History of Boroughbridge and of the River Ure.
The exhibition  will be in the Jubilee room above the library from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

If you have information or photographs which you would like adding to our Society’s Archive do bring them along, this would  all help towards the project of producing a new  book about the history of Boroughbridge, which the group plan to publish later in the year. Contact 01423 322988 if you require further details.

Boroughbridge Community Library and Resource Centre

On April 1, a new era starts in Boroughbridge with respect to the library. From that date the library will be entirely staffed by volunteers who have been in training for many months and are now raring to go! Trustees (“committee”) are: Judith Burton, Helen Chester, Mike Collins, John Helliwell, Ian Hick, Nic Holmes and Barbara Horner, all of us working in partnership with NYCC who will continue to provide books, computers and some professional support.

Please note that the opening hours will be more or less the same as now; and we’ll be open every day except Sunday.

We have around 30 volunteers but are always on the look-out for more. How about getting involved? A job which would suit you can be found, without doubt!

Our aspiration is to make the library a community hub: a place where all sorts of interesting things happen and exciting events take place. This will take time but, if you have any ideas for activities and events, we’d love to hear from you; Barbara Horner is the person to contact (contact details through John).

Finally, we must mention the Jubilee Room upstairs in the library building. It’s an attractive room for hire at very good rates and can be booked at 1 Hall Square.

For further details, or to find out about volunteering in the library, please contact: John Helliwell, 01423 320731,

Brighter Boroughbridge News for March

The new gardening season began on Tuesday 28th February with volunteers tidying the Chatsworth Grove site. Pupils, under the guidance of their teacher, Theresa Pridmore, joined in and made an excellent contribution to the session.

Local traders have invested again in hanging baskets, ensuring a feast of delight in the summer and the troughs maintained by Fink, Bloomerang  and local residents, continue to look good.

The AGM was held a few weeks earlier and the decision was made to enter Yorkshire in Bloom again this year. We are still in the category of large village but that will all change when the proposed new housing developments are completed. Last year, in the summer judging, we were awarded silver gilt, only one step below gold. This was an excellent start but we are determined to do just as well this year.

There are plans to change the display at Stump Cross roundabout, which has flourished for two years, honouring those that died in WW1. The new display will require new, exciting wooden cut outs from JennyRuth Workshops but we are not going to reveal what that is to be just yet.

We are also going to have a board placed on the library wall, thanking local companies that helped us during 2016. It is hoped to have that up before the spring judging.

If you look around Boroughbridge and district you cannot fail to delight in the snowdrops and crocuses and soon the daffodils and blossom will be out and spring will be seen in all its glory.

Gardening sessions will intensify to two a week soon and we hope our volunteers will be able to make some of those. Even if they can only offer half an hour, it all helps.

If you would like to become involved with the group don’t be shy and don’t worry if you feel you know nothing about gardening. Everyone is welcome. Just contact John Goss at or ring 01423 323123

Grace Church Easter Holiday Bible Club

Grace Church in Boroughbridge is holding a ‘Treasure Hunters’  Easter Holiday Bible Club from 12th to 14th April at Kirby Hill C of E Primary School. Ages 5-11. Free!

10:00am-Noon Wednesday and Thursday

10:00am-1:00pm Friday with Easter Egg Hunt!

Please contact Grace Church Boroughbridge to preregister a place: or 07547 121061

Battlefield Trust Walk

Louise Whittaker from The Battlefield Trust  is leading a walk about the Battle of Boroughbridge 1322 on Sunday 19th March at 11.00am. The  walk is approximately two miles, and will take two hours. Meet at 11.00am at Hall Square. Further information is available from yorkshire@ or tel 01523 522133.

BCC Bingo Night

bingoCome along & support Boroughbridge & District Community Care at their Annual Bingo Evening at The Coronation Hall on Saturday 22nd April. Doors open 7pm, first call 7.30pm. There will be a bar. Tickets are limited, and cost £5 including supper, available from the BCC office or reserve by phone. 01423 324504. (Office open 9am to 12 noon).