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Ode to Pigeons

Please join me in celebrating my favorite bird! June 13th is National Pigeon Appreciation Day. That’s right, today we honor the bird many people love to hate. While some may call them rats with wings, in my book, these birds should be beloved. Until today, I never knew there was an official date on the calendar to honor them, but it’s the perfect time to profess my love for pigeons.

For centuries, pigeons have gotten a bad rap! So, I was delighted to discover ( in today's Austin American Statesman) that I’m not alone in my fascination with these fine feathered friends. Apparently pigeons have been misrepresented and maligned for no real reason. According to this article, it’s a myth that pigeons are pests! (Though they do like to poop…but who doesn’t? ) They are not disgusting vermin and they don’t have a significant track record of spreading disease. Pigeons even have a history of being huge helpers to humans, from wartime to mailtime. I ask you, what other bird has delivered messages that saved lives like the pigeon did in World War I?



I know I sound like a bonkers, bird lady, but few things put a bigger smile on my face than being surrounded by a cooing crop of pigeons. While other tourists were disgusted by the pigeons at St. Mark's Square in Venice, I lured them to land on me with birdseed. (That’s a practice that is now illegal since pigeons far outnumber human residents in Venice). I admit, there is a pigeon overpopulation problem in Italy, but copulating isn’t a criminal offense.


My obsession with pigeons started when our family found a baby pigeon that fell from a rooftop nest at our church. I was around 9 years old. We brought it home, bottled-fed it, built a bird hutch and it became our favorite pet. We named it Pigeon. I know, it’s not very original, but the moniker matched other members of our home zoo - Snake/Squirrel & Turtle.

Pigeon had a big personality. He would sit on the front porchlight and often perch on unsuspecting visitors and proceed to dance on their heads as they approached our front door. This was hilarious to the three of us kids, but it probably embarrassed our parents. Pigeon also loved to ride on the hood of the family car, as we drove away. He wouldn’t fly off until we hit the highway and the wind was too strong. But he was always at the house when we returned…even if the ride was many miles away. He was a homing pigeon.


I wish my squab story had a happy ending. I’m still a bit sad when I ponder the end of our time with Pigeon. One day he rode on the hood of my mom’s car when she drove down the street to pick up the dry cleaning. While she was inside, talking to the clerk and picking up the laundry, she noticed some teenage boys playing with the pigeon. When my mom came back out of the dry cleaners, Pigeon was nowhere to be found! We’ve always suspected those boys stole him, but we have no real proof. We put up posters all over the neighborhood (see above) and knocked on dozens of neighbor’s doors but we never saw Pigeon again. He was the world’s best pet ….I mean you didn't have to change his litter box or take him for a walk, he was just there to land on you and love you.

So on this June 13th, I’m doing my darndest to appreciate pigeons and I hope you will, too. Afterall, pigeons are practically the same as doves and they’re known as the symbol of peace!

Heaven knows, we need more of that in this world.

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