Like silent feathery gargoyles the pigeons were snoozing on the duct work of the grain terminal. As I was scanning the thousands of pigeons covering the facade of the hundred year old brick building I was thinking to myself “why are there so many ducts?”. Is it ventilation or heating? Who knows what it takes to store and transport gain. The pigeons did not seem to ponder such trivial and technical details. The merely seemed to enjoy the duct work as a place of resting and pooping.
Like a sentinel of a long lost time the urban grain terminal in north Edmonton is still very much in business. The terminal has been in operation since 1924 and last year 400000 tonnes of grain passed through the terminal. Seed crops arrive at the terminal from Alberta farms and are sorted, cleaned and graded before being loaded onto a train bound for Vancouver and the ocean journey to overseas customers in countries like Japan. This bounty of grain has not gone unnoticed to the local pigeons that flock to the south side of the structure in the thousands. I assume that there must be spillage as the grain is loaded and unloaded from train cars. While the location is a birding hotspot, not so much because of the pigeons bur rather due to the birds of prey that are attracted by the pigeons it makes you wonder if rodents also are attracted to the location by the abundant food source. Officially Alberta is rat free (there is an oxymoron for you), but this location seems perfect for an Alberta-grown rat colony (if there is such a thing).
In the northern part of Edmonton, in an industrial area along a major highway there is a large grain terminal. Pigeons flock to the site as the spilled grain is an easy source of food, particularly in the winter. On any given day there are thousands of pigeons roosting on the beams and ducting of the large terminal building. As a result of the abundant food source (not the grain, but the pigeons) the site attracts birds of prey, such as gyrfalcon and bald eagles. I have been wanting to visit the grain terminal for a long time but it was not until this week that I managed to make it. It was a sunny and mild day and sure enough the pigeons were there. I spend most of my lunch hour carefully scanning the pigeons and the duct work on the grain terminal in the hopes of spotting a raptor, it with no luck. The only action I saw were kanoodling pigeons.