Monday, August 10, 2009

New York Pigeons

For some reason, I need to say a few words about New York pigeons. They are ubiquitous and fearless. That’s pretty much it.

With respect to being fearless, the other day I was walking along a lightly traveled portion of 7th Avenue and I watched a trucker bearing down on a large flock of pigeons that must have been feasting on something particularly good – maybe a bagel or some pizza crust, or, I don’t know, maybe even a dried out piece of meat. Do pigeons like meat? Well, anyway, this truck driver is coming along and he is really thumping his horn, but do those pigeons scatter? They do not. The humans were holding their ears and cowering with fear, but the pigeons just kept nibbling away on those scrumptious discards. The truck driver, who was proceeding on a two-way street, actually had to let the oncoming traffic pass before he could get around them. Pigeons in New York! They’re like those immovable sheep you always see in movies blocking the unpaved roads on the Italian countryside preventing you from getting to Milan or Florence!

The same thing happened to me recently when I was walking along the sidewalk minding my own business and a bunch of pigeons appeared up ahead. As I approached them, I became convinced they’d fly away as I entered their space. Even as I got very close, though, they still did not stir, obsessed, most likely, with some tidy morsel. They just kept pecking and shuffling around in circles. So I moved right up to them and they’re still circling and I’m afraid they’re going to fly up into my face or something and get tangled in my hair like bats. I step toward them, then back again. At last, there I am in the street, giving them a wide berth. Outmaneuvered again! By pigeons!

As for being ubiquitous, well, of course, they’re everywhere. But I’m not sure you quite know the extent of it. Yes, they cover the playgrounds and roost on every rooftop, but they also love to ride the Staten Island ferry and walk under your feet and fly over your head and sometimes even perch on the seatbacks. I swore I had one pigeon follow me into the bathroom the other day, but when I headed for the urinal he waddled over to the stall, flew up on the toilet seat, and if I’m not mistaken, actually closed the door. It couldn’t have been for privacy, knowing pigeons, so he was probably harboring some really choice piece of garbage. Those New York pigeons! Like the city they rule, they surprise you at every turn.


  1. The Jets, the Sharks, the Seventh Ave Pigeons...
    West Side Story.
    The Pigeons gonna have their way, today.
    No matter what you say today.
    They're not scared of angry truckers, OH NO!
    And walkers on the sidewalk, don't get to close!

  2. I love this! I actually sat here and sang it twice out loud! Do you think you could redo the whole Tonight Quintet but about pigeons?

  3. Well, if a pigeon named Anita were expecting, she might sing:

    Anita's gonna have her chicks today-ay.
    She'll hatch 'em in a nest of sticks today-ay.
    They'll start out scared and tiny, poor dears.
    But grow up smart and shiny, without any fear-ears.