Dovecotes, or Pigeon Towers, are structures intended to house pigeons or doves. Dovecotes may be free-standing structures in a variety of shapes, or built into the end of a house or barn. The birds enter and exit the tower through openings in the outer wall which are ideal for the pigeons’ size but too small for birds of prey and other predators to get in and they generally contain areas for the birds to nest. Pigeons and doves were an important food source historically in the Middle East and Europe and were kept for their eggs and dung. The birds were attracted to the towers because they resembled the rocky ledges and crevices in which the birds like to roost, nest, mate, and rear their young in the wild. Iranian pigeon towers are six to eight stories high (18 meters) and up to 22 meters (75 feet) in diameter and could house up to 14,000 birds. As natural foragers, the birds spent their days seeking food, then coming home to roost at night. A farmer needed only to have a tower lined with nest-friendly alcoves in order to keep hundreds of squabs at the ready.