Thursday, July 26, 2012

Catch That Pigeon

I was in town today and watched as yet another child chased a pigeon until in the end the bird flew away. Why a pigeon? Is it because there are so many of them? Is it because they are seen as dirty? Is it because they have dared enter our space and occupy it? Is it because they 'mess everywhere'? What is it about a pigeon that has lead parents to accept that this is OK?

Would the response be the same if it was a house martin or a robin? I would postulate the answer to that would be no, and the reason would probably be, these birds have been associated with a different set of values and beliefs. The robin is seen as something sweet and pretty and yet it is one of the most fierce birds in the garden and if you have been threatened by one they can give a series of nasty pecks. They will chase other birds out of their territory (your garden) and will harm them if they feel it is OK to do so, and yet we are so pleased when one of these birds settles and makes its home with us. What about a house martins? Harmless and very sweet, yet they produce large broods which will make just as much mess as the pigeon, and they still excrete in the same way. They come back every year and the mess they leave up against walls, the ground and everwhere around their nests is quite something.

In London one of the pest birds, and I think this is the real cause, is the green parrot which has made its home in the trees of London and is breeding at an alarming rate. Yes they are very sweet to look at, and we laugh at the way they walk on the ground, tip their heads to one side and squawk; would a child be encouraged to chase them? Probably not, they too sweet and funny.

So what am I eluding to? The way we view the natural world, and what that do to our children in their relationship with it. It may just be a pigeon but it is still teaching them to disregard the animal, to take pleasure in chasing it. Is that what the natural world is for? Will it stop at a pigeon? Will they feel it is OK to chase and harrass other animals? Animals on the river banks get harressed because children chase them, is that right? Is that fair? Is the river bank our home or theirs?

Let's go further and look at the way litter is dealt with. Do parents encourage children to put their rubbish in a bin? Do they expect them to eat and then dispose, not eat, and ignore? I would suggest there is a tendancy for children to believe it is OK to eat and then discard; how many of you have looked at the trail of litter which follows the exit route of children from school? I have the dubious priviledge to be on the way home for two secondary schools and that is via a chip shop and a small supermarket. It is normal to find chip wrappers, cake/biscuit packaging and empty cans left on the walls of the front garden in this area, and what does that encourage? Two things, pigeons and seagulls.

If we wish to have less 'mess' in our towns and cities then we have to accept we are the cause of their re-habitation. We have taken their habitats, built our own and expect them to go elsewhere and not take advantage of all the goodies we leave around. The presumption that animals 'know' the discarded litter is ready for someone to come and sweep it up ( after all what are litter pickers for?) and not for the exploitation of dis-placed animals and birds is short-sightedness and lack of thinking. And how do they thank us? Well, how else, they increase their numbers to take advantage of the rich bounty these strange humans leave for them all over their newly converted habitats.

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