A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 22: The Pigeon Dilemma

July 18th · 5 Comments

Early this morning I passed a pigeon lying belly up on sidewalk with its feet stuck in the air. I dismissed it as a feathery corpse but a few steps later I stopped. That bird was looking at me. Was that bird looking at me?

For certain the bird was alive. Its eyes darted this way and that but otherwise it laid serenely still. No joints out of place, no blood, no signs of struggle. It just lay there, alert and unruffled, assuming the Thanksgiving position in the middle of the sidewalk at 75th and York.

I straightened and looked around: the streets were empty. No one to confer with, not even another feathered friend.

What, exactly, does one do with a helpless but otherwise self-contained pigeon?

I could, I thought, kick it into the gutter for the street sweepers. But that was just about as likely as me heading to the McDonald’s on 69th Street for a bucket of Pigeon McNuggets, Extra Crispy. I could call 911. (“Pigeon down. Send a cruiser!”)

Do I call the 24-hour help desk at 1-800-VERMIN-LUV? Or scoop it up and carry it home…to do what with it? Decorate the dining table with a feather-and-guano centerpiece?

Instead, I did what any respectable journalist would do: I took a picture (the bird glancing over at me, its eyes blank as a moral quandary) and retreated to a safe distance to see what would happen.

Finally a New Yorker came by, a fat guy in a navy-blue mechanic’s suit. A chest patch announced him as Bruce. He walked past. Then he stopped and looked back. He stood there for a moment, contemplating and chewing on his cigar, and then turned and walked away. Then another pigeon swooped down. Help was on the way, for sure. But the flying rat simply pecked around for any crumbs his hapless brother may have missed and flew off.

Tough town.

I felt a pang of remorse and checked the intersection a few hours later but there was no sign the pigeon had ever been there. It was off to some roost in the sky, though whether that meant the Pearly Gates or a drugstore awning, I will never know.

Tags: Sights & Scenes · The Rat Race · Urban Survival

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dan // Jul 19, 2008 at 12:53 am

    I think he was just f-king with you.

  • 2 Kimberly Winston // Jul 22, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Oh my God, David, I love this blog!!!!

  • 3 Sulley // Sep 24, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    See, this is what happens when you step on the sidewalk cracks.

  • 4 Sarah Farrukh // May 28, 2011 at 5:13 am

    omg so sad :'(

  • 5 RANDOM STRANGER // Aug 30, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Wow, that was an awesome read!

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