doocots, dookits, doo houses: there are many names for where thse pigeons live!

What are they? Standing approximately 4 meters high, usually painted black or green, with ladders leading to a small doorway half way up one side and nestling in urban wasteland. You might be mistaken for thinking this was some trendy revival of the Scottish baronial style, but no, these structures are doo-cots.
The often misunderstood doo-cot is used in a complex game of pigeon "kidnap". Many people still believe the doo-cot is the inner city equivalent of the suburban pigeon loft. This could not be further from the truth.

The concept: let one bird out to bring a neighbour's bird back to your doo-cot. On entering the doo-cot, the neighbours bird is captured and becomes the property of the capturer.

Techniques: All sorts of techniques are used, of which seduction is one of the most common.
A female in a particularly attractive condition seduces another person's amorous male back to her loft or to his, depending which one wins.
If seduction doesn't work, then aggressive males will bully another bird back to their doo-cot, often with heavy blows from the leading edge of their wings.

The doo-cot differs from the pigeon loft in that the birds are not housed within the structures and are kept elsewhere in lofts, bedrooms, outhouses.

This is a collection of photographs that we have taken of doocots in Glasgow.


Doocots along the Clyde Cyclepath through Scotstoun: 01/02/2002

Firhill Doocot

Taken up at the Forth and Clyde Canal, just up from "Partick Thistle's" main ground.

Photograph courtesy of Gordon Keenan

The Dalwoodie Doocot

Doocots were not always used for racing pigeons. They were originally provided as a place for pigeons to roost / nest. Which sounds nice until you realise that this attractive environment was simply meant to keep the birds as a handy source of food! It has to be note the birds were neither fed nor kept captive.

Your Memories

Jimmy Reid here in Canada and pretty pleased to see your 'page' on 'Dookits,' jist great Jimmy! jist great! I see where you mention that the birds weren't 'kept in the Dookit' ?? this was not always the case or I wouldn't have 'broken into' so many, LoL! As kids, we were not in a position to 'buy' pigeons but, we were quite adept at acquiring them by fair or foul means?

My buddy's "Graham T. and George T." and I, would see a particular 'wee ash hen' or a 'big pied cock' and go weak in the knees 'wae desire' Now, you've got three eleven year olds sizing up "I.Bell's Dookit" on The Blocks of Springburn and figuring out 'how to gain access' Mr. I.Bell? was an extremely clever man as he built the door (God! it was like Fort Knox!) into the corner of his massive structure (similiar to the ones in you're terrific photo pictorial) but, we couldn't figure out how to 'open the door!' We studied his 'handle/hinge less door' and I eventually found that he had 'drilled' a big hole through the corner of the Dookit and into the door at several locations.

He then took the big 'bolts' that are used in railway sleepers and inserted these through the corner post and into the door leaving you to believe, that they were just part of the construction! We 'slipped' out the bolts and gained entry, climbing an inner ladder, we were then in the cage area. There were 'boxshelves' with wire fronts on them and inside the 'cages' were the most beautiful 'Doos' that us young 'Hawker Fliers' had ever seen! Shaking with excitement, we stuffed a pair each into our 'jukes' (our sweaters) and 'flew the coop!'LoL!

I wont continue with this story unless you e-mail me and ask me for 'the rest of it,' LoL! but, I thought I'd 'contribute a wee bit to your Page. I still fly the Doos out here in Canada but, they're Scottish Kirkpatrick Racing Pigeons 'imported' from Larkhall and I have been lucky enough to have had the "3rd Best Young Bird in Canada, my Div. 1997/98 and 1st and 2nd Best Young Bird in Canada, my Div. 1999/00, not bad for a wee Doo thief, LoL! (we got 'doin's' for stealing those Doos, LoL!)

Jim Reid. ex.Springburn / Balornock.


I've just came across your Hidden Glasgow page and found it very interesting.

My attention was drawn to the section on "Doocots".

Like my father, I was born and bred in Cardonald. Since my first memories, I can always remember my dad having the "doos". However, in our area there were no "high rise dookits". Most of the dookits (and there were many in Cardonald) were in garden sheds or garages. My dad kept his birds in our garage. It was a garage that never seen a car inside. It was dedicated to his "doos".

Stealing "doos" was the practice of the "lowest of the low". It was not so much the value of the birds. It was the time taken to train and nurture the birds to just the way you wanted them, so that they could compete effectively.

In "housing schemes" such as Cardonald and Penilee, doo sheds were prominent. However, way before "doo sheds", doo flying was very prominent in areas like Govan, where the "dookits" were either situated on the roof of the tenements or "the board" was stuck out of a window, usually above the kitchen sink.

"Doomen" were a cross section of many types of people. From business men, to guys "on the bru". All of which were dedicated to the sport and art of "flying the doos".

My dad owned the "doo shop" in Kinning Park for years. It was opened only on Sunday nights. Birds were swapped, sold and raffled. Stories were told about how many birds were caught, lost or stolen by "low life's". Sunday night was a very busy and serious time for "doomen".

Like the "doo thief" who wrote the article on "your memories", I too now live in Canada and like him still fly "the doos". Pouters to be precise. After my dad closed his businesses in Govan our family moved to Canada.

You can read more about our connection with Govan, Glasgow at click on Govan Folk, then Scanlan Family.

I am enjoying your site. Great work.


Harry Scanlan. [17/12/2003]


Does anyone have any information, stories or photographs about doocots or their inhabitants (the pigeons)? Maybe you fly doos - or know someone who does...

We would like to hear from you. Are our facts accurate, please let us know!

Unless stated all images © 2001

updated: 2nd February 2003