Life on the Streets

It's a Pigeon's Life
- 12 January 2012 -

My office is what you would call a "green" building, so the only way for me to get my nicotine fix is to venture out to the street. Although the trip from the 7th floor out the front of the building is irritating, it does have its good points, I get some exercise (quite ironic), it gets me away from my desk for a break (strangely enough I solve most of my work problems on the street corner), I get to network and have informal meetings (where healthy people have to schedule meetings, us smokers debate and resolve our differences over a smoke), and I get to see the pigeons daily.

So on one of my "breaks", I spotted 2 lonely pigeons wandering the sidewalk and streets in search of their daily fix.... crumbs. I got a little mesmerized by them on this particular day, mainly by the methods they (could be a she, but for the sake of simplicity, this article will refer to all pigeons as "he")  have adopted to consume their food. So I followed him a bit, and was quite intrigued by this common and mostly invisible creature that wanders our streets.

So one morning, when I wasn't working, I decided to grab my camera to see if I can find some pigeons close to my house. They not very hard to find. My first subject wasn't exactly a pigeon, it was a dove, but close enough for my interest.

The dove

There is only one thing that drives them.... Food! Getting in close is a little difficult so I had to use my 300mm lens to capture their movements. With wings, one would expect them to fly more often, but I guess it makes sense, the food is on the ground, so why fly around all the time.

My first thought when looking down was "what are they pecking at all the time?", there is literally nothing there. Common sense though tells us that if we were 10mm tall, we would probably see a lot more than what we normally see way up there. So I got down and inspected the crevices between the bricks, and it turns out that the pecking is not just a side-effect of too much carbon dioxide... there is actually tiny crumbs, seeds and other edible items between them.

What also fascinates me is how they have learnt to navigate the roads, sure if a car comes they can fly away, but strangely this happens less than you would think. They have a strange ability to "not" cross the road when cars are coming. Almost like our parents taught us when we were kids.

There is a reason these creatures are referred to as "rats with wings", they breed exceptionally well, and are survivors. Yes sure the occasional nasty cat will catch one, but in general they not in danger, even in the dark alleys.

 The pigeon

Eventually my dove flew away so I had to get a new subject, this time it was an actual pigeon.

So I followed him a while, pretty much the same stuff.

This one found a nice "Big Corn Bite" to nibble at. Although I didn't get a picture, I have seen the pigeon's at my office devourer a "slap chip" (french fry) in less than a minute. He grabs the chip shakes is vigorously while beating it against the ground until is breaks into smaller pieces. 

Don't get me wrong, although I was following individuals, there are lots of feathery friends that join in. Not actually "friends", more like associates and colleagues in a cafeteria.

He also understands that cars kills, so being slightly bigger than the dove, with a larger stride, he can take more chances.

Eventually I got bored and it was time to move on.

Pigeons are such a normal, boring  part of our lives, they are all over the place all the time. Places like Fordsburg in Johannesburg have thousands of them. They are neither mysterious or exciting, so I find it fascinating that I am still fascinated by them, even if it is for a short moment.

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