I was walking through Father Demo Square in the New York City’s West Village when a woman in a thick blue jacket began to throw bird seed on the ground from a plastic bag she held at her hip. Instantly, she was surrounded by pigeons, diving this way and that, swooping in for whatever scraps they could pick at. She must have dropped eight or ten handfuls of the stuff, because soon she was once around the water fountain and pigeons filled the square.
As always, I had my camera with me so, like the birds, I swooped in. After snapping off only a few photos I heard someone behind me clapping and shouting “Fly home! Fly home!” I turned around to see the woman who had just fed them staring at me with a concerned look on her face. I smiled back.
“They don’t understand,” she said. “They think that you’re trying to feed them, not take pictures. And they need to go home.”
So, apparently, pigeons don’t understand the difference between feeding them and taking pictures, but they do understand the words “fly home.” Thanks for the reality check, Dr. Dolittle. Why don’t you tell them to stop pooping on statues or help fix the MTA’s budget deficit. Use those powers of pigeon communication for good, not the mundane. And while I apologize for confusing the pigeons maybe you should just fly home too.