Doug Schmaltz, seen with some of his pigeons, said the Calgary Racing Pigeons Club has received only two complaints in the last five years. ((Mary-Catherine McIntosh/CBC))

Backyard pigeons have at least one neighbour asking why the city allows residents to keep the birds as pets.

Kaayla Canfield, who lives in the Citadel area, said a new resident has three coops for racing pigeons and the noise and smell are irritating.

"The squawking, it's constant. Imagine a few hundred birds next to you that never shut up," she said.

Racing pigeons are allowed in Calgary as long as the owner belongs to one of the city's pigeon clubs, according to the city.


Racing pigeons, like this one, are allowed in Calgary as long as the owner is a member of a pigeon club. ((Philip Marruffo/Associated Press))

Susan Mekaled, the new neighbour, said she has 20 pigeons. Bylaw officers have visited the property three times and concluded they aren't breaking any rules, she said.

When CBC News visited her home, there was no noise or smell.  

Doug Schmaltz, a spokesman with the Calgary Racing Pigeons Club, said club members take the rules very seriously.

"If we've got a problem — a neighbour problem, a pigeon problem — the club goes out, talks to the owner of the birds. Tells them that they have to start looking after their birds better. And if they don't, they're suspended from the club and they're suspended from the Canadian [Racing] Pigeon Union." 

Schmaltz said in the last five years his club has only received two complaints.

The rules in Calgary are different for chickens. One woman with three hens in her backyard recently announced she is fighting a $200 fine, arguing she should be allowed to keep the fowl in her backyard to help feed her children.

A couple of chickens would make better neighbours than pigeons, Canfield said.

"What's next? Are we going to have goats in our backyard, too, or maybe a few cows and horses and everything else, right in city limits?"