Luminous Photos of Scotland’s Pigeon-Obsessed Flight Club

Finding escape in a never-ending aerial battle over the mean streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Connor Ross, from the Restilrig housing scheme in Edinburgh, was introduced to doo flying by friends. "Doo" is the Scottish word for horseman thief pouter pigeons. Photos by: Robert Ormerod/Statement Images/Redux


For the doo fliers of Scotland, keeping pigeons isn’t just about having the fastest or finest birds. It’s about stealing your fellow fanciers’ doos (male pigeons—horseman thief pouters, in particular) and hens, enlisting your own sex-starved flock as bait. “Men and women of all ages fly against neighbors, friends, or relatives and have been doing so for hundreds of years,” explains Robert Ormerod, whose luminous photographs capture a hobby that offers an escape from the mean streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow with an endless aerial battle.

Dylan Leppage with one his doos in his room in the Sighthill area of Edinburgh. Dylan’s stepfather encouraged his interest in doos after he was expelled from school. Some families have flown pigeons for generations.
 

Father and son Ian and Mark Wilson dye their newest pigeons yellow. The color helps the bird attract members of the opposite sex. Doo flyers sent their birds out to entice members of the opposite sex, which are then lured back to their huts.
 

A pigeon sits on a carrying box. In the housing schemes of Edinburgh and Glasgow, doos are flown from lofts, sheds, bedrooms, and living rooms.
 

Billy Casment, 12, at his home in Niddrie.
 

A baby pigeon. Doomen tell stories of pigeon fliers who eat and sleep with their birds and even those who have left their wives or girlfriends for their flocks.
 

Paul Smith, 43, with one of his birds in the Muirhouse area of Edinburgh. Paul found solace in flying pigeons after his 17-year-old son was stabbed and killed during an argument.
 

Pigeons fly near a high-rise apartment building in Glasgow

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.