I’ve teamed up with Ken Amarit and Ben Gullard to work on a project about the pigeons of New York. The pigeons we are accustomed to seeing in city streets are the descendants of domesticated rock pigeons, brought to American in the 1600s by settlers, but with a history of human symbiosis that reaches back at least 5000 years. They are considered an invasive species, but are uniquely suited to city life, thriving in urban environments that resemble their original rocky habitation. They live well with humans, succeeding when we do, feeding off our waste, and perhaps as a result are marginalized and maligned by most.
We intend to interview a pigeon trainer in Brooklyn (who wishes to remain anonymous), and will also reach out to Glenn Phillips of the New York City Audubon Society, as well as members of New York City Pigeon Rescue Central.
Our project is still somewhat undefined but we’re interested in investigating new ways for people and pigeons to interact, primarily through play.
Here are some fun facts about pigeons:
- Both males and females incubate pigeon eggs as well as secrete a nutritious fatty milk for their young.
- Pigeons mate for multiple seasons (some say for life).
- In some cities pigeons are given contraceptives.
- In some cities people steal pigeon eggs and replace them with dummy eggs.
- Pigeons are hunted by peregrine falcons, another city transplant.
- Pigeons do not migrate but they have an excellent sense of direction.
- Pigeons can fly at up to 60 miles per hour.