The birds of Fly By Night represented a wide variety of the domesticated Rock Dove, or Pigeon (Columba livia domestica), and have been domesticated for over ten thousand years, making them one of the oldest domesticated animals in the world. The flock is composed of many different breeds raised for traits such as high flying, athleticism, and sheer elegance. Below are a handful of the crew’s favorite from the flock.
Tofu is a Damascene, a breed of pigeon whose origins can be traced to ancient Damascus, Syria and are known in the pigeon community for their excellent night vision. Tofu quickly became the unofficial Fly By Night mascot after being rescued as an orphan. He prefers roosting on caretakers’ heads than in the aviaries.
Goldee Hawn is a Gold Bar New York Flight, a breed of pigeon local to New York City, easily identified by their long pink beaks, pearly white eyes and white tipped wings. Named Goldee for her distinctive golden feathers, she likes hi-flying at trailblazing speeds.
The Red Baron has a distinct black and white coat of feathers. He’s a Homing Pigeon, often referred to as homers. With a keen ability to navigate their way home from long distances and high speeds, this breed of birds has been employed throughout history to carry messages, medicine, and even spy cameras in times of war.
Sox on the Beach is a Satinette. Satinettes are a variety of pigeons known as Fancy Birds. They are favored because of their petite frames and wings with elaborate designs and patterns. S.O.B. has a set of distinctive feathers grouped around her ankles that resemble boots – which is how she earned her name.
Otsego is a blue-checkered Roller, and the first baby to be born in the Fly By Night flock. Rollers (also referred to as Tumblers) are popular for their ability to perform rapid, backward somersaults in the air. They flip when they are happy and in the mood to show off.
Lucifer, also known as ‘Lucy’, is a Tipplet. When Lucy was rescued by the artist his legs were already adorned with tiny bells, a tradition popular amongst the Middle Eastern pigeon fancying community. Lucy is territorial, and he rings his bells to keep his space clear of other pigeons.
Saturday Night Fever is a silver Russian High Flyer whose feathered feet have the curve of a bell-bottom pant, and his ‘cap’, or tufts of feathers on the back of his head, resembling a fancy scarf or disheveled hair. As the name implies, Russian High Flyers fly so high that their silhouettes sometimes disappear from view into the open sky.
Syed is a King Pigeon, a type of pigeon often bred for their heft and weight. King pigeons often fall prey to the food industry, and Duke was happy to rescue Syed from a poultry farmer. Syed is pictured here with a Satinette pigeon in order to compare his large size.
Pablo Escobar and Roman Polansky, Homers, have been members of Duke’s flock for many years, and have participated in previous projects. The moment Pablo Escobar moved into the loft of the Baylander, he selected and claimed the highest net box. Claiming himself king of the castle, he remains inseparable from Roman Polanski, his longtime partner.
(Photos: Will Star/Shooting Stars Pro and Kitty Joe Sainte-Marie)