Victor Casiano’s Rooftop Pigeons

Victor Casiano is the last survivor of a once-mighty tribe: the rooftop pigeon fliers of Morningside Heights. According to Victor, pigeon coops used to grace virtually every rooftop.

Now there’s only Victor and his beloved flock of flights and tumblers, magpies and fantails.

I met Victor last weekeend during Manhattan Valley Family Days, a community event that was part of the NYC Department of Transportation Weekend Walks Program.

He sat at a table with a cage full of birds, a small selection of his rooftop flock.

An effective ambassador to a passing world, Victor proudly showed off his birds, all the while chatting with friends and neighbors.

He explained the differences between his birds, easily flipping open wings to display the markings.

Gorgeous red and white markings

He taught children how to hold and release the birds

and placed a hand-raised baby pigeon on their shoulders

He patiently answered endless questions from this writer

and promised to take me up to his rooftop coop on Amsterdam Avenue.

For more on Victor and his birds, see “Up on Victor’s Roof,” and visit my monthly column in the Westside Independent to read about my first visit to Victor’s rooftop coop.

Oh, how I love New York.

Update: I just ran into Victor on the street and he told me Family Days is running for two Sundays. Come by Amsterdam Avenue between 106th and 110th on Sunday May 23rd from 11 AM until 5 PM. Victor and his birds will be doing demonstrations as will Hiraldo’s Karate School, El Taller Latino, Mugi Pottery, and many others. Victor will be set up between 108th and 109th.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2010, Birds, In the City, May, strange encounters, Wildlife/Natural History

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15 Comments on “Victor Casiano’s Rooftop Pigeons”


  1. […] For more about Victor Casiano, the last rooftop pigeon fancier in Morningside Heights, read Victor Casiano’s Rooftop Pigeons and Up on Victor’s […]

  2. gary marshall Says:

    i totally agree…..”there’s something about pigeons”!

  3. linda Says:

    I live in the east 80’s and I have a fire escape facing a back alley. Last Thanksgiving I left almonds out for a squirrel I had seen climbing on the fire escape. I never saw the squirrel again but a beautiful all white pigeon ate the almonds( the street pigeons initially ignored them but learned to like them) . I think now it must have come from a pigeon coop it was cleaner looking than the other pigeons yet very bold and definitely not one of the poor hapless doves you see struggling on the street after being released at a wedding .The white pigeon visited every day until January. I saw him in the spring again at a small park on 91st and 2nd avenue.I no longer put out almonds.

  4. WeHarlem Says:

    Great story. Feel free to post on http://www.WeHarlem.com and also post up the event tomorrow on WeHarlem.com.

  5. Eileen Says:

    Cool post and photo of the pigeons!

  6. Carol Says:

    Neat! I’m fascinated by these pigeon hold-outs. It’s such a dying urban sport. I heard last year that there’s a pigeon coop across the street from me and last week I figured out who the guy is. Now I just have to run into him and wheedle my way up.


  7. I loved this. All my brother’s friends in Culver City (many of the families emigres from NYC) in the 50’s had pigeon coops behind their houses. I remember oogling the fantails. And one of my Polish survivor friends recalls the pigeon coops on rooftops in Radomsko, my family’s town in Poland.

    • Melissa Says:

      I never thought of pigeon coops in Cali, but why not? What an interesting memory. Victor tells me the pigeon guys in this neighborhood were all Italian and Irish when he first moved into the neighborhood in the early 1960s. His family was the first Puerto Rican family on the block, which became almost completely Latino.

  8. Charlotte Says:

    This reminds me of a children’s story I read long ago by Myron Levoy about a chicken coop on the roof of a lower east side apt. Love how Victor is keeping the tradition alive and that you’re capturing it.

  9. mthew Says:

    Brooklyn maintains the proud tradition. I know of a handful of coops, one just down the block, and in the afternoons when the sun is lowering, the birds swirling around and around en masse, with outliers, is a tremendously beautiful sight. Check out my friend Zina Saunders’ profiles of roofies(?): http://www.overlookednewyork.com/pigeon/index.html

    • Melissa Says:

      Matthew, I just ran into Victor on the street. We were chatting about the birds (how they used to fill the sky, whirling like little twisters) & he mentioned that “some lady” did a drawing of him with all his white birds. I get home, see your comment & check out Zina’s site. Sure enough, there’s Victor! I’ll be writing more about him, and will link to her profiles. Thanks so much.


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