Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Urban wildlife

In the shadow of London’s National Gallery and the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields lies Trafalgar Square, with bronze lions the size of our car. Now, moreover, they can be seen as intended; until a few years ago they were famously covered in pigeon poop. 

My college in Missouri had this problem when I went to school there; we students loved feeding the pigeons, but they had a tendency to exert the prerogative of flying animals. The college responded, as I recall, by setting out poisoned feed, killing not only the pigeons but, presumably, every other animal that ate the feed, and every animal that ate those animals. I don’t know what kind of poison they used, but I hope it was something that breaks down quickly in the soil once all those animals died. 

Londoners had a wiser solution, one that cut down on the pigeons and kept the remaining ones fit: hawks. When I passed by an excited crowd were gathered around a Mr. and Mrs. Hawk, who seemed to regard the human herd with nonchalance.

1 comment:

Bill Metrey said...

I was caught off guard twice while reading your column this morning. The first when you said, "...(the pigeons) had a tendency to exert the perogative of flying animals." My office neighbor jumped when I suddenly burst into laughter at what you were really saying. The second, when you wrote, "(a solution that)...cut down on the pigeons and kept the remaining ones fit: hawks." He jumped again, this time spilling some decaffeinated coffee in the process. Well done!