Today’s post includes pigeons, baguettes and bicycles—all in 17 syllables. Now, I enjoy urban “wild life” as much as the next person, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Pigeons fall into this category. There are too many in Paris for my taste, and many Parisians feel the same way … to the point of calling them “flying rats!”
Although the observed behavior of a few Parisians might suggest otherwise, feeding the feral pigeons is illegal and subject to hefty fines. Feeding causes overpopulation until the birds become messy, aggressive pests. Pigeon poop damages statues and other monuments, makes park benches unusable, and is unsanitary (and slippery when wet!).
So, eat your baguette, but don’t share any with the pigeons! Of course, if you carry your baguette home in your backpack, or sticking out of the saddle-bag or basket on your bicycle, the few crumbs that break off will be welcomed by our feathered friends. Still raised as a hobby by enthusiasts, many are quite pretty.
To control, but not eliminate, the pigeon population, Paris has installed a number of pigeon coops in the city’s squares and parks. The birds readily nest in these and lay eggs (an average female can lay about six clutches per year)—the more food they get, the more eggs they lay. City workers regularly enter the coops and vigorously shake all but one fertilized egg per nest. The shaking renders the eggs infertile; leaving them in place reduces the number of clutches laid. Pigeon couples, who mate for life, are allowed to raise only one “squab” at a time. All in 17 syllables, below: