Pigeons aren’t ‘just rats with wings’


April 7, 2016

illustration: ©Leo Michael

Illustration: ©Leo Michael

When you’re 5 years old, every adult is an authority on every topic, and the nuances of communication often go over your head.

When my grandmother, an amateur kitchen-window bird watcher, told kindergartener me that she loved all the birds — except pigeons, “because they’re just rats with wings” — my zoological understanding of the world around me shifted dramatically. (I would pay a premium to see the look on my face at that moment.)

Contrary to what I’d previously believed, I had obviously never seen a real pigeon because my mind’s eye recalled the image of a fat, gray bird. Now, I couldn’t wait to see a real pigeon. After that, when a bird flew by, I’d look up hoping to see a fanciful creature straight out of Narnia or Oz or an H.P. Lovecraft novel, flitting away, with a long pink tail trailing behind it.

Eventually, I got straightened out on the subject. But unlike those who make the mistake of feeding pigeons out of a misguided sense of kindness for animals, I’ll never struggle with equating the word pigeon with public nuisance — because for an embarrassingly long time, I expected that pigeons were somewhat magical rodents with the power to take flight.

I end my cautionary tale with two recommendations:

  1. Don’t trust Grandma.
  2. Reading the cover story from the March issue will expand your knowledge of profitable bird management, courtesy of the father-and-son duo of Stuart and Dan Aust.

You can reach Senior Editor Will Nepper at wnepper@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3775.


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