San Marcos pigeons

AHBE Lab’s posts focusing upon urban wildlife throughout March have revealed interesting stories and varied insights about human and animal interactions within our city. The topic made me think about my least favorite urban animal, the pigeon, alongside the reasoning behind this negative feeling about one of the most common animals who’ve adapted to city life.

VENICE, IT. October 17, 2007 - Giuseppe Tonini, a daring tourist, has a different take on feeding pigeons in St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy.I have equated the urban pigeon to that of a flying rat, always shooing them away when they come around looking for food. Even when I visited Piazza San Marco in Venice I found their aggressive, scavenging, and gang tactics presence annoying. I am particularly disgusted by the thought of where these birds have landed, and the various germs they carry [Note: photo of bird food in guy’s mouth in Venice. UGH!]

But, in an attempt to discover some level of appreciation for this successfully adaptive urban  species, I looked to art in hopes of discovering a perspective which illuminated the humble pigeon in more positive light. This poem by Carl Sandburg almost makes me feel sympathy for this winged animal.


THE FLUTTER of blue pigeon’s wings
Under a river bridge
Hunting a clean dry arch,
A corner for a sleep-
This flutters here in a woman’s hand.
A singing sleep cry,
A drunken poignant two lines of song,
Somebody looking clean into yesterday
And remembering, or looking clean into
To-morrow, and reading,-
This sings here as a woman’s sleep cry sings.
Pigeon friend of mine,
Fly on, sing on.

-Carl Sandburg


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