Pigeons are a bane around chook pens. They eat a lot of food, shed mites and lice, and can spread disease (though in reality I've seldom seen a sick wild bird). They also, at least in my place, get into the pens and forget how to get out again.
I caught a wonga pigeon yesterday in the pen, and took it out to let it go. While holding the bird I couldn't help having a bit of a grope to see how meaty it was. Wongas are very plump to look at, but anyone who keeps chooks knows that can sometimes just be feathers. How amazing! This thing was a bundle of meat! It was as heavy as one of my bantams, but a lot smaller around.
The funny bird sat on my hand for 10 minutes after I'd let it go. It must have been in shock, but even when it ceased panting it stayed there quietly (weighing a ton). I patted it for a while, telling it I had no intention of harming it, and the bird seemed to be thinking about that... Then after a long time it shrugged and took off.
Wonga pigeons are gorgeous, native, probably protected and certainly I adore having them here. If it had been one of the introduced wood pigeons (not city ferals) I wouldn't have had a qualm about using it for pigeon pie. Well... not too much of a qualm. All right, a bit of one... But only because I'm so habituated to consider farmed animals meat, and wild animals dirty pests or something to marvel at.
We're a weird mob, aren't we? Wild meat is somehow 'dirty' while supermaket meat is 'clean'. But the more you look into tiny elements of how our meat is made, the more you realise industrial scale meat is no more than a giant experiment in population health.
Pigeon pie: take 4-6 pigeons, pluck and draw, slice off the breast meat and lay it skin side down on a knob of butter, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley; sear to seal the meat on both sides, then add 2/3 cup of stock; cover with a lid, bring to a simmer and cook the meat through on a gentle heat for about 15 minutes; remove and retain pan juices; dice cooked pigeon meat with carrot and bacon, refry for a minute or two, put into a shortcrush pastry base; meanwhile simmer the pan juice and stock until it cooks down to a syrupy brown liquid and pour this over the pie contents; cover with a pie lid and bake. (You might also do this with mashed potato as the pie lid.) :-)