The first National Pigeon Day on June 13, 2008, was patently absurd. I figured it was some kind of avian fluke. But it’s back this year and bigger than ever, taking place again in Central Park in New York City and launching a book heralding this foul fowl.
Woody Allen called pigeons “rats with wings.” I find that comparison funny but unfair. Rats are intelligent animals, used in experiments to help improve the human condition. But will there ever be a National Rat Day? No. Why? Because it’s a stupid idea.
Like pigeons, rats are fastidiously clean. It’s the squalor of their habitat that forces them to be loathsome, disease-ridden vermin. We should honor our unspoken social contract by allowing them to continue scavenging our rubbish.
In return, they enable us to go on being filthy swine who leave our trash in the streets. Hail them as heroes if you’re delusional enough, but for God’s sake, don’t feed them. They eat our garbage; that’s their job.
I wrote about this “holiday” last year, never thinking it would be repeated. But here it is again, so I’d like to take this opportunity to bring you my original post.
“We’re trying to promote a positive image,” says New York Bird Club founder Anna Dove…. “There’s such negativity for no reason. They’re harmless, defenseless. They can’t attack; their beak is very soft.”
It’s great that these disease-carrying merde machines that crowd out other bird species are having their day in the sun. I would like to submit a few more unsung heroes that I believe deserve to be honored.
The Asian longhorned beetle immigrated from China in cargo containers and feeds on maples and elms in New York City, helping us control the rampant tree population, since the only remedy is to chop them down.
Then there’s the Chinese emerald ash borer that’s helped to rid us of over 6 million ash trees in the Midwest. To paraphrase Springsteen (or Edwin Starr, if you’re a purist), “Trees-what are they good for?”
Possibly the most overachieving of these heroes is a plant. Kudzu came here from Japan in 1876 as a decorative plant.It grows an amazing 1 foot per day, smothering native plants and killing trees with its vines. Like something out of the X-Files, it has taken over many southern states and is on its way north. Then we can have National Kudzu Day when it’s overgrown everything else in Central Park. Hey, at least it won’t hurt our precious pigeons.
Kids will learn cool pigeon facts…as they nibble on pigeon-shape cookies, view pigeon-inspired children’s art, and take part in a candlelight prayer service.(Dove worries there might not even be urban pigeons in five years.)
Hey, here’s a cool pigeon fact. They eat meat. I remember one munching on my KFC like some happy cannibal reenactment on the Discovery Channel.
Meanwhile, she urges all New York families to “carry a bit of bread crumbs in your bag, a few seeds to show kindness and respect. The pigeon isn’t a threat or an enemy. It goes along with quality of life to show kindness and compassion to all living things.” That’s a lovely lesson for the children.
Yes, littering- what a great lesson. Here’s another one. Have your kids wait until after dark to see who feasts on the castoff pigeon cookie crumbs and detritus you’ve left in your thoughtless wake. That’s right, folks: our friend the Norway rat. He lives on unintentional handouts, like those yummy crumbs dropped from the pudgy little fingers of adorable children who want to feed the pretty birdies.
But let us not forget what is perhaps the greatest lesson of all. Make sure your kids toss those crumbs right next to the feet of a homeless man. This is a great way to teach your children about irony. He might’ve enjoyed that pastry you crumbled up before you came to the park. He’d definitely drop some crumbs around him to feed the pigeons. You know, those homeless have no manners.
And the Circle of Life continues.
*****Since I had no comments on the blog, I’d like to share the reaction of a reader on nymag.com after I printed a portion of my post in its Comments section.*****
Your bitterness towards the pigeon CATHCOM, is misplaced. It should be directed to the people who do terrible things to pigeons because they are helpless and vulnerable.
I won’t ask how a pigeon managed to get a bit of your KFC, but why don’t you take a peek at the PETA website to see what those chickens have to go through to provide you with that sandwich. Animal cruelty is an extreme euphemism. As for cannibalism, suppose if you were facing a life of having to eat garbage and street scraps, you might not be very particular yourself.
If the rats bother you, consider what a feast day they would have if there were no scavangers like the pigeon to remove most of it. You think that if people stopped feeding pigeons the rats would go away?
If you see some irony in the homeless not being fed, ask yourself why society lays the blame for their homelessness on them. Like its their fault they don’t have high paying jobs or that they struggle with mental illness without care and treatment. To people like you however it all reduces itself to the problem of throwing a few bread crumbs to a pigeon. If you want irony we could teach our children how little we value the lives of other Americans, and showing kindness to a few pigeons is a great place to start. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be determined by how its animals are treated”- Gandhi.
By Grimaldy on 06/13/2008 at 3:52 pm
Thank you for your comment, Grimaldy. I’m sorry to hear that you are bitter toward people who do terrible things to pigeons. Those kind of resentments can wear you down, especially if you haven’t eaten enough protein recently.
I always specify that my sandwiches be made from chickens that have really suffered terribly. It makes them so much sweeter. And it balances out my diet of hobos quite nicely. The one thing I really can’t stomach is a vegetarian — too stringy.
By the way, I’ll wager you’re no more like Gandhi than I am. He didn’t have to pretentiously quote himself, after all.
By kathcom on 06/13/2008 at 5:23 pm
Even with this only in its second year and a black man in the White House, I’ll bet it’s easier to get this day off than Martin Luther King Day. Good luck, everybody! Let me know how it goes.