Sunday, December 02, 2007

Pigeon Plucker

I had let the last batch of young pigeons grow for about 4 months. Now that winter is almost on us, the mating pairs are unlikely to lay any more eggs until spring, and it wouldn't make economic sense to be feeding birds all thru winter for no reason, so it was time for a cull.
The last batch of birds I had tagged with red rings so they were easy to spot. There were five of them for the chop, and so I caught them with the big net, and popped them in the box.
The axe that helps split the kindling does the job of beheading the birds, and now that I'm used to it, it is very quick and efficient. Below is the work to be done before the pigeons find their way to the deep freeze:

unplucked pigeons

First stage is to plunge the bird in boiling water to help loosen the feathers. Not too long because we don't want any cooking to take place, not too short or there will be no effect.
plunge the pigeon in hot water

Plucking is a tedious task and I'm not very quick. Fiona can do two birds to my one. The brest feathers come out easy, but the skin is thin and delicate so you have to take care not to tear it. The big wing and tail feathers come out easy too, but the hardest of all are the tiny feathers along the leading edge of the wing.
plucking pigeons

Below are the birds plucked and ready for gutting. Gutting pigeosn is actually quite easy and, with a bit of practice, not messy. First you cut around the vent with a pair of scissors. (most birds only have one external opening, called the vent, and the internal chamber, or cloaca, that is used for urination, defecation and reproduction. With a bit of care you cut all the way around, through the skin, fat and muscle until you find that the digestive tube is freed (but still attached to the vent) There is now enough room in the cut hole to get a finger in and gently hook all the innards out. Carefully done, nothing breaks or bursts, there is little blood and no smell. Higher up the body chamber will be the liver, heart and lungs.
It is at this point that our two cats start to go crazy because they know they are going to get these treats. They scoff them down faster that I can get them out, and the cats also go all wild and feral, growling and hiding under the table with their booty.
pigeons ready for gutting

Last step is to get any grain and seeds out of the crop, trim of the feet and a final rince and pat dry.
Below are five young, tender tasty pigeons ready for any recipe.
pigeons gutted and trimmed

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At 5:37 am, Blogger sacred slut said...

That's so disgusting to an American. I can only eat meat that comes fileted and shrink-wrapped. Actually I prefer if someone else has cooked it as well.

How long do you plunge them in the boiling water anyhow? My neighbor was complaining how it smelt so awful to do that (with chickens) and I suspect she left them in too long.

At 6:51 pm, Blogger Shayne said...

This brings back memories from plucking and dressing chickens from when I was a kid. and if the chicken killin was going well we could get our parents to make the plucked chicken cluck by pressing on it. We even had one old soup hen that i guess was hording her yolk cause when we opened her up about 20 yolks rolled out. Odd.


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