Pigeons, People and Perceptions

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 cell phone 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 BirdWeb.com, the Rock Pigeon is “originally from Europe, Northern Africa, and India” but was “introduced it 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.

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.