DawnWatch: NY Times op-ed on pigeon appreciation 6/26/06

July 12th, 2006 5:30 pm by Kelly Garbato

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From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Jun 26, 2006 5:54 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: NY Times op-ed on pigeon appreciation 6/26/06

The Monday, June 26 New York Times includes a lovely op-ed by Andrew Blechman about pigeons. It is headed “Pigeon English.” (Pg A19.)

Blechman refers to London’s attempt to rid Trafalgar Square of pigeons, and, in New York, to poisoning, torture, and “the weekly poaching of thousands of pigeons, which are then sold to Pennsylvania gun clubs for use as live target practice.”

He writes:

“While most birds in the United States and abroad are protected by a series of federal laws and international treaties — the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act, for instance — pigeons have fallen through the avian safety net. While hummingbirds, piping plovers, the spotted owl and even New York City’s famous red-tailed hawk known as Pale Male are afforded stringent protections and favorable news media attention, it is open season on one of mankind’s most loyal and gentle friends, the pigeon.”

He tells us:

“Far from being reviled, the pigeon has been revered for thousands of years, ever since a pigeon (or rock dove) brought the biblical Noah news of subsiding waters.

“Humans have had a particularly long and proud association with the rock dove. Pigeons brought news of the first Olympics in 776 B.C. and some 2,500 years later, of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. Charles Darwin (himself a fancier) relied on them to prove his theory of evolution; Julius Reuter built his mighty news empire literally on their backs; and perhaps most important, pigeons saved thousands of Allied soldiers during the two world wars. Keep in mind that a modern racing pigeon can fly 60 miles per hour without stopping for 600 miles and find its loft from a place it has never been before, and that the House of Windsor has proudly raced pigeons for more than a century.

“And yet, in a matter of decades, one of the world’s most venerated creatures and one of nature’s most phenomenal athletes has been reduced to the status of vermin by governments on both sides of the Atlantic. The peaceful co-existence of man and pigeon has deteriorated into a war of attrition.

“The bird’s crime? Its gregarious nature. Pigeons are simply attracted to people as well as the company of other pigeons. Unfortunately, their unsightly and unhygienic droppings rapidly accumulate. But we really have only ourselves to blame: pigeons subsist on the food we drop.

He suggests that banning public feeding outright will cause public fear for the birds but tells us, “the Pigeon Control Advisory Service recommends building attractive lofts around a city and designating them as places where feeding is encouraged.

And he reminds us that pigeons “bring joy to millions who appreciate how they animate our cities.”

You can read the whole piece on line at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/26/opinion/26blechman.html and respond with a comment on any aspect of the way in which human society treats members of other species. The New York Times takes letters at letters [at] nytimes.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. To unsubscribe, go to http://www.dawnwatch.com/cgi-bin/dada/dawnwatch_unsubscribe.cgi
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