95+ Years of Pigeon Roosts

If you’ve ever driven south on Deerfoot Trail, you would have passed the Federal Grain Elevator in Bonnybrook, on the west side of the road.

This grain terminal was built around 1916, and over the years, has provided roosting and nesting sites for untold thousands of rock doves. When the grain trucks were delivering to the building on a daily basis, the spilled grain also attracted ducks and geese from the nearby Bow River. All that terrestrial bird activity naturally attracted the predators, and it was often a good place to spot a Northern Goshawk in the winter.

As of last Sunday, the rock doves have lost their perch. Apparently the high cost of operating the aging structure meant it was no longer financially advisable, so it was imploded at 8:00 am Sunday morning.

On a chilly pre-dawn morning, we were lined up on the hill to the west of the elevator with the media, police and a host of spectators. I was there because I was curious about the bird aspect of the whole thing.

The charges were set mid-way down the building, so when it went down, the rock doves on the roof went up. They circled the area, drifting in and out of the large dust cloud as it wafted towards the east.

The explosion also lifted a flock of geese off the river, and a small flock of ducks.

The whole thing was over in less than two minutes. As the sun rose through the dust, the rock doves gradually settled on a small, remaining tower, no doubt wondering what on earth had just happened to their world.

Posted by Pat Bumstead

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