Before the advent of guns, ways and means were found to catch wild birds for food because there wasn't much else available to the poor by way of protein, except for snails scavenged from fields. When guns arrived they were for the privileged few - unaffordable to those who could not even pay for a pair of shoes. So the poor people had to find ways to catch wild birds in quantity without the use of weapons. They came up with the idea of building a dovecote or barumbara as an integral part of the house - except that it wasn't for doves but for pigeons.
Nowadays you might come across some old rural dwellings with just a few nesting places for pigeons incorporated in the facade as the one I found in Zabbar.