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

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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

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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