Using my ATM has of late been a hazardous experience, not from any street crime, but a far more dangerous assailant coming from the sky. Our local bank has erected a rather splendid sign above its frontage which has proved a perfect perch for pigeons, dozens of them. While ex-mayor Ken Livingstone most positive contribution to London has been to reduce the pigeons of Trafalgar Square from 4,000 to a mere 120, they have like other vagrants just moved elsewhere.
[M]ayor Ken first banned the sale of pigeon feed in 2001 resulting in a family business that had traded for decades having to shut shop. Next at a cost of £60,000 a year he introduced a pair of Harris hawks, with their handler, the expense has almost certainly been covered by the reduction in the cost of cleaning up pigeon droppings from the surrounding areas. Unfortunately the rest of London is still plagued by these feral creatures that carry (sorry about this!) histoplasmosis, cryptococosis and psittacosis, so it would seem the pigeons above my ATM could previously have been a tourist “attraction” from Trafalgar Square.
On my garden on the bird table are regularly two ring necked doves, slim beautiful creatures, even if they are a little stupid and the contrast between our doves and London feral pigeons could be not starker.
Now with our fast-food litter lout culture it has given us pigeons so fat that they can hardly fly out of the way of my cab, with many of them having trouble taking off as they are missing a toe or foot after standing in the piles of their own corrosive droppings. These urban birds are even more stupid than their rural cousins, after centuries of evolution, not one of them have realised that by placing their foot even if it is now a stub, on a piece of bread, they wouldn’t have to throw it over their heads, tearing a piece off in the process.
The numbers of our wild friends, along with foxed and rats needs to be reduced, reports recently have included, dive bombing seagulls, foxes biting children in their beds and if it is to be believed rats 30 inches long.
Sparrow hawks regularly kill pigeons in my garden while the other birds are clever enough to get out of the hawks way it’s only the pigeons that get caught, they could be used to keep the numbers in London down, feeding them something to reduce their sex drive might deprive Londoner’s the opportunity of the amusing spectacle of the males courting rituals, but could have the desired effect.
Writing in the Evening Standard Sebastian Shakespeare suggests a course of action which might prove rather startling to tourists, as the bird’s fall of their perch (or their hands) and I quote:
A more pragmatic way might be to hand out poisoned bird feed to tourists and actively encourage them to feed the pigeons. This would kill two birds with one stone, so to speak: the tourists would still get their photo opportunities and it would be a very cost-effective way of keeping the pigeon population down.
If you still have the need for more about pigeons, I would direct you to Pigeon Blog probably the largest site you find on everything that’s amusing about our fat flying friends.