Saturday, June 26, 2004
If you live in a city, I guess there's only two ways to feel about pigeons: either you really dislike them ("feathered rats," anyone?) or you become tolerantly affectionate of them. After four years in New Haven and...yikes, six in Philadelphia, I've swung over towards "affectionate." As long as they don't actually crap on my head, anyway.
So here are some pigeon-related things I've thought over the years:
One of my favorite things about living in a city is watching the male pigeons try to impress the females during mating season. They puff out their chests, they drag their tails, they bob and bow and coo, they put on the biggest show they can; and the females just hurry away, or even fly away, without looking at them. I know the males must be succssful sometimes, or there wouldn't continue to be more pigeons; but mostly, it's very entertaining to watch all that "look at me!" puffery met by complete disinterest.
It's true that pigeons have pretty much taken over everyplace urban; but it's not the fault of the pigeons that the environments we create for ourselves exactly duplicate their natural habitat. The common, feathered-rat pigeon is officially a rock dove; a dove that lives on rocks, on cliffs, under overhangs, among crags...or, in a pinch, among sidewalks, overpasses, and skyscrapers. (On the bright side, for pigeon-haters, peregrine falcons have also taken to the cliff-like skyscraper environment. Nature is nothing if not adaptable.)
Not that I'm superstitious, or a big believer in karma; but every now and then, I wonder if the urban ubiquity of the rock dove is cosmic payback for the extermination of the passenger pigeon. (It would serve us right; or serve our ancestors right, anyway. Me, I'll just avoid standing under telephone lines where pigeons perch and enjoy watching the males fail to impress the females every spring.)
[ at 12:02 AM • by Abby • permalink • ]