The way of the birds

Many people in Turkey love pigeons – it’s a passion that crosses religious and national divisions.
Situated on the banks of the Tigris River and home predominantly to Kurdish population, Diyarbakir has been a focal point for conflict between Turkey’s government and Kurds in the southeastern region since 2015.

The many tea-shops inside the 6 km of roman and byzantine walls, host pigeons’ auction every evening. With the Syrian border less than 200 km away, many of the best birds came across to Turkey as the civil war heightened, causing oversupply, which led to lower prices, but as the conflict escalated, the prices rose once more.

These birds command high prices; in a country where the minimum wage is 5000 TRY – about 300€ a month-, enthusiasts regularly easily spend hundreds of euros for one bird.
Pigeon breeders are united by a common love of the challenge of breeding and the thrill of competition. The sport of racing pigeons consists in releasing specially trained pigeons which then return to their homes over a carefully measured distance.

The time it takes the animal to cover the specified distance is measured and the bird’s rate of travel is calculated and compared with all of the other pigeons in the race to determine which animal returned at the highest speed.When they are not trading, most of the city’s pigeon enthusiasts head to the rooftops at sunset and let their birds stretch their wings. The urban environment melts away as caring for the birds, transport the caretakers to a realm of experience outside the city, the conflicts and the workday world.

Hundreds of birds fill the sky before following their training and heading home

Copyrighted Image © 2022 Manuela Luise