two books about pigeons
A Pigeon and A Boy, by Israeli novelist Meir Shalev, is about the relationship between two handlers of homing pigeons. It was an enjoyable story, and in addition enabled me to understand the significant role that homing pigeons have played throughout history, as messengers.
OK - so the pigeons in my garden may not be homing pigeons, but I like to think of them as close cousins, and worthy of respect. Like possums, pigeons badly need advocates to correct the widespread dislike and scorn they endure.
In his book Pigeons: the Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird, Andrew Blechman tells us everything we ever wanted to know about pigeons and the people who obsessively love and hate them.
It was Woody Allen who popularised the idea of pigeons as flying rats, in his 1980 film Stardust Memories. He saw a pigeon in his apartment and panicked.
“It’s not pretty at all. They’re, they’re, they’re rats with wings! …It’s probably one of those killer pigeons … You see? It’s got a swastika under its wings.”
Blechman explains the widespread hatred of the urban pigeon. It’s all to do with poo. Pigeons gather in large flocks in cities. City buildings provide them with nooks and crannies for nesting, and there’s plenty of leftover food scraps around for them to eat. So they live comfortably and the droppings just keep piling up. And up.
Some statistics: “The average pigeon produces over twenty-five pounds of droppings a year. At some urban nesting sites, the accumulated crap can be measured in tons.”
So because of this situation
“the peaceful coexistence between man and pigeon, which lasted for thousands of years, has deteriorated into a war of attrition. The urban pigeon, regardless of its remarkable past and incredible physiology, is now considered a feathered outlaw.”
Seen like this, the problem is one we gardeners are keenly aware of - and blog about often: how to look after our wildlife, maintain biodiversity in our cities, suburbs and rural areas, and work out a balance between their needs and ours?
Would any of you non vegetarians out there care for a slice of (sustainably sourced of course) pigeon pie?