Someone is killing pigeons on Eighth Avenue and — wouldn’t you know it! — I’m in the middle of it.
I might have gotten off scat free if my old nemesis, Councilman Simcha Felder, hadn’t unveiled a bill this week that would make pigeon-feeding a crime.
Felder, like many New Yorkers, believe that pigeons are nothing more than rats with wings — dirty birds who eat our garbage, befoul our highway overpasses and, apparently even worse, live their lives the way they (instead of we) choose.
“We have pigeons doing whatever they do all over the city without anyone trying to stop it,” Felder said when he introduced his bill.
Now, I’m no fan of pigeons, either, but I have a certain respect for a life form that’s been on the planet longer than we have. Makes me sometimes wonder who’s the pest. Indeed, to a pigeon, a human is just a “rat with legs.”
But I was going to give Felder a free pass until I got a call telling me about a flock of dead pigeons in a bloody heap near the corner of Eighth Avenue and Sixth Street.
Apparently, the Pigeon Serial killer of Park Slope had struck again. This, I could not ignore.
I was once hot on his trail. Back in the late-1990s, when I was working for Pigeon Fancy magazine (motto: “We’re coo-coo for pigeons!”), I was sent to cover an incident involving wounded and murdered pigeons on Eighth Avenue, some with darts still sticking out of them.
But the heat was on and the serial killer slipped under cover, away from my gasp.
I caught a break this week, when a pigeon lover started plastering flyers on public (and private) property — claiming that surveillance cameras would “monitor early morning activity on this block” in hopes of catching the serial killer at work.
I was on the next bike to Sixth Street.
The pigeon-lover (whose name I’m going to withhold for reasons that will soon become clear) met me at the corner carrying a baby pigeon, still bearing the tell-tale yellow hairs of his infancy.
She said she saved the orphaned bird after the weekend massacre. And she also claimed to know who slaughtered these defenseless birds.
“It’s that guy, right over there!” she said, pointing at him.
All I saw was a man sweeping debris in front of his house. But, wait a second, that’s not debris — it’s birdseed!
And the pigeon-lover is running over to him to start screaming. What is going on here? I’d been set up!
“Why are you sweeping up my birdseed?” the pigeon-lover screamed, demanding that I take the man’s picture. “You’re the one who poisoned those pigeons over the weekend! And the press is here!”
The man denied poisoning the pigeons, by the way, but he didn’t deny sweeping up all the birdseed that the pigeon-lover had left.
“Please don’t throw birdseed in front of my house,” he told her.
“My kid is allergic! My kid gets sick from those pigeons.”
“Then you should move to the country!” the pigeon-lover said, drawing very little sympathy from the man (and, frankly, from this child-raising urbanite, too).
“Besides, there are no documented cases of anyone getting sick from pigeons.”
“Can’t you just feed them in the park? This is my front stoop!” he fired back.
This streetside “debate” wasn’t telling me anything — except something we all know: pigeons evoke intense passions among New Yorkers. Sure, we’re repulsed by them, but there’s no denying that they are wildlife that are protected from murder by state law.
So Felder wants to make it illegal to feed pigeons? I’d be happy if he’d just end the war on Eighth Avenue.
©2007 Community News Group
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