Saturday, December 22, 2007

Commentary: Pigeons, People & Perceptions

Pigeons, people & perceptions
By Mickey Z.
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Nov 15, 2007, 00:14

New York City Councilman Simcha Felder is sick and tired of some Big Apple residents “doing whatever they do all over the city without anyone trying to stop it.” Is he talking about trigger-happy cops, double parked cab drivers, omnipresent terror suspects, loud cellphone users, or maybe corporate lawyers? Nope. Felder has his legislative eye on Columba livia, a.k.a. Rock Pigeon (the bird formerly known as Rock Dove).

According to, the Rock Pigeon is “originally from Europe, Northern Africa, and India” but was “introduced to North America in the 1600s.” Since then, of course, “numbers have increased significantly as more and more of our country is urbanized.”

To combat the seemingly urgent problem of urbanized pigeon droppings, the intrepid Councilman Felder plans to introduce legislation banning the feeding of Columba livia. To defy this ban would be to risk a $1,000 fine. (Interestingly, the Rock Pigeon is despised while conversely its all-white cousins -- the Dove -- remain a beloved symbol of peace. Could this be a case of avian racism?) Mayor Michael Bloomberg hasn’t yet endorsed the ban but did opine: “We do have a lot of pigeons and they do tend to foul a lot of our areas.”

Just for the hell of it, let’s replace the word “pigeons” with the word “corporations” in Bloomberg’s statement. Better fit, huh? How about if we just insert “humans”?

For some, the feral pigeon could be viewed as a nuisance. But in all the thousands of years Columba livia have dwelled on this planet, did any of them ever feel the need to invent, say, nuclear weapons? No Rock Dove created pesticides, napalm, Agent Orange, or the internal combustion engine; you can’t blame cigarettes, greenhouse gases, hydroelectric dams, waterboarding, or mercury-laced vaccinations on a pigeon; and rest assured no non-human conjured up zoos, animal experimentation, factory farming, or the rodeo.

Also in the news is James M. Stevenson, founder of the Galveston Ornithological Society. Stevenson is currently on trial in Texas, charged with fatally shooting a cat that he said was “stalking endangered shorebirds.” In his own defense, the bird-watching enthusiast said: “This is about wild species disappearing from your planet. I did what I had to do.” Apparently, that jury will hear no theories as to why so many wild species are disappearing from our planet.

Maybe Councilman Felder can blame that on the Rock Pigeon, too.

Copied with permission: Online Journal
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at

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Anonymous said...

In spite of the myth that pigeons are just not doing much... they suffer a lot. the fact that humans feed them has made them useless birds for nature sake. They don't scatter seeds, or feed with insects, or such things. They just got sicker and sicker (colon cancer particularly); they spread a fungus named clamedia (among 22 more possible diseases), that sit in your lungs and drill the tissue slowly but surely. They maintain very unsanitary nests and procreate really fast as a protective reaction to their shorter and shorter life periods. The genetic deformations they are showing in the cities is result of the lack of sanitary conditions. It is not true they cannot live by themselves... we are making them be dirty (you can find coins, cigarettes butts and other things in their stomachs when analyzed in autopsy. They will for sure be the next big Nile Virus threat in NY!! DO NOT KILL THEM, OK, BUT DO NOT ENCOURAGE THEM TO BE LIVING WITH YOU AND YOUR KIDS, THEY KNOW HOW TO LIVE WELL WITHOUT US MAKING THEM USELESS ANIMALS!

AvianMaven said...

I agree with the comment left 12/22. As part of being sympathetic to pigeons we have to think of their best interests. Honestly, it is best for them if we introduce the feeding ban. Lets be honest, even with the ban, there will not be a lack of food for pigeons to eat. Any urban area has a large variety of food for pigeons. When people feed birds it's usually not nutritious (popcorn, white bread). Furthermore, birdseed etc attracts rats. The pigeons would be better off scavenging. It's not as if the city is trapping and removing pigeons. If that were the case I could understand all the frustration.