2011 Field Season

The Mystery of the Pigeons

Posted on Feb 12, 2011

Posted by Richard Redding

We returned to the pyramids on Monday, 7 February, for a full morning of work. Three packed vehicles drove off from the Villa at 7am.

We passed through the military checkpoint and headed up the to the plateau. It was eerily quiet, primarily because no humans were around, and then I noticed something else was missing. I saw no pigeons.

Normally pigeons roost on the pyramids in hundreds. They nest high up, on the steps, amongst the rocks and probably have done so for thousands of years. Indeed, the Great Pyramid has its own mini-ecosystem. I have seen insects of many types, foxes, rodents, snakes and many birds, including, not only the pigeons, but raptors, crows and the occasional songbird.

The insects live off the each other and the small plants that grow among the stones. The rodents live off the small plants and the insects. The snakes and foxes live off the rodents and the birds. The pyramid has its very own food chain.

I have thought that if I could get a qualified entomologist to collect insects on the Great Pyramid they would find a new species that was unique to the pyramids.

But back to the pigeons: where were they?

Well, something else has been gone from pyramids for the last 10 days. Also missing is the large number of locals who bring their camels and horses to the Giza Plateau offering rides to the visitors. They earn their living from the human visitors: another “food chain,”

No horses and camels means no horse and camel dung. The pigeons live off the seeds and vegetation they find in the dung. The pigeons had exhausted their food supply and have had to look for an alternative source of food.

No tourists and visitors, no camel and horse drivers – no horses or camels, no horse and camel dung – no dung, no pigeons. I hope the mini-ecosystem of the Great Pyramid does not collapse.



3 Responses to The Mystery of the Pigeons

  1. Joan Dash says:

    I’ve seen thousands of pictures of Egypt in the last three weeks. Your’s has been the only picture of camel dung. Keep up the good work. Joan

  2. I second that appreciation, Joan!

  3. Pingback: Giza Pyramids After the Revolution | An Ecosystem Saved | Richard Redding |

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