Birds in the organ loft

Image of the pigeon in the organ

During restoration work to the roof of the Great Hall last year, a pair of pigeons found a way into the building and decided to make the top of the Great organ case their home. Things immediately started to get a bit messy in the Great Hall, including on the new horizontal trumpets and the organ bench.

But matters took a dramatic turn for the worse when Mrs Pigeon fell into one of the large 16’ case pipes and became trapped, her head trying vainly to lead the rest of her body out through the pipe mouth. Suggestions for dealing with this problem included letting the bird die of starvation before pulling out the bits (not desirable, especially in the freshly-cleaned organ) or hiring a giant cherry-picker to remove the pipe so that the bird could be tipped out (very expensive).

It was young German organ builder, Henrik Jarmatz, who devised and implemented a simple solution. After discovering that the decorative grille-work of the case has several small, hinged doors accessible from inside of the case – including one over the top of the ‘pigeon pipe’ – a light rope was lowered down the length of the pipe until Henrik could reach it through the pipe mouth.

After much non-cooperation from the bird, the rope was eventually secured around one of the bird’s legs. The bird was then hoisted up through the top of the pipe and released, seemingly unharmed, outside the building where it flew to freedom!