National Geographic : 1949 Sep
Pigeon Netting Sport of Basques © National Geographic Society 405 Irene nuuetL-aVouu aln Snapping a White Cloth Decoy, a Basque Guides Migrating Pigeons Toward Nets Below In October and November wild wood pigeons winging their way south to Mediterranean shores fly low through a Pyrenees pass, the Col de Lizarrieta. Wily Basques of the countryside, taking advantage of this seasonal trek, set nets to snare the passing birds as they soar over in great flocks. Men perched on the mountainside, like the one above, frighten the pigeons and cause them to fly closer to earth. At the pass bottleneck many are trapped by nets suspended between trees (page 416), and gunners hidden in blinds bring down many that dodge the nets. These wild pigeons of the Basque country, Columba palumbus, in general resemble American domestic pigeons. They are quite different from the extinct wild pigeon formerly found in the United States, which had a long, pointed tail. For generations Basques on the French-Spanish border have netted wood pigeons commercially. It is not a public sport, however. Rights to erect and operate the nets belong only to a dozen homesteads and are passed down from owner to owner. This small group composes the Palombes Association, whose members share the profits of the hunt.