Why we should celebrate London’s pigeons

Oi, you there! ’ello? Are you listenin’ to me or am I just movin’ me beak in vain? Good. ’Cos I got a story for you. About me and my kind. How they tried to extermin-ate us. Narcotics. Lethal shootin’. Spikes that turn a desirable centrally located window ledge into a bed o’ nails. And then they bring out the big bazookas. The sky bombers. Hawks.

Today everything gets called ‘iconic’ but the London pigeon deserves that title more than most. Scrounging and strutting, they represent our cheeky, indefatigable Cockney spirit, or perhaps simply our ability to keep on keeping on. Londoners rarely like pigeons, but we tolerate them with grudging respect. Head down to Trafalgar Square and there they are working those iridescent neck feathers, beadily eyeing your lunch or simply sitting, dreaming of when they used to be called doves.

All pigeons are descended from rock doves, and most of the 800,000 odd feral pigeons in London are descended from lost or wayward racing pigeons. In 1997, for example, 60,000 pigeons were released in the French city of Nantes to race inderal online pharmacy home across the Channel — but only a handful made it back. Some suggest the birds’ homing instinct was interrupted by a Concorde jet. Other fanciers cite monthly explosions on the sun, which they believe can knock Nobby and Speckles off course. As for why they prefer urban areas, theories range from the fact that cityscapes resemble the cliffs from which rock pigeons originated, to the abundance of food to be salvaged.

Yet in Trafalgar Square their numbers are in decline. At the millennium there were an estimated 35,000 in the area; there are now approximately 100. This is part of a concerted effort by the Greater London Authority (GLA). Although, contrary to urban legend, pigeon droppings are not a major health risk (only immuno-compromised people need take special precautions), they are horribly corrosive to masonry. Not to mention inconvenient — just ask the staff of the Baglioni Hotel, currently battling with Kensington and Chelsea Council to keep the netting it erected to protect guests from droppings.

Read the full article from the Evening Standard

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