This weekend's NYTimes proudly features 5,000 words on the winged rat of the city. Its full of factoids about the vermin, like the theory that all of today's pigeons are believed to be descendents of aristocratic birds liberated when French revolutionaries sacked their lords' manors. The pigeon haters are locked in a culture war with the pigeon feeders:
“Most of the pigeon feeders are in some way crazy,” Daniel Haag-Wackernagel said, summarizing, rather informally, a psychological study he helped write on the subject. “It is impossible to influence these people.” The most relentless have no family and few interpersonal relationships. They adopt pigeons as surrogate children. He described women — older women — who worked as phone-sex operators and prostitutes to pay for birdseed. This may be the pigeon’s greatest co-evolutionary triumph: the black magic whereby these grubbing little birds have sought out their depredated, human counterparts and transformed them into senseless disciples.What's more, the pigeon haters have banded together a la the Minutemen to track pigeons and call the cops on the little old ladies who offer the enemy handfuls of seeds and stale bread. We're all for harassing that old guy with the shopping cart full of birdseed, but we worry this mash-up of animal control and border vigilantism will run the other way: Will Conrad Burns be feeding immigrants birth control pills at the local soup kitchen? Shudder.