We’ve got to do something about pigeons in Toronto. I live a stone’s throw from Bloor and Dufferin and the area is always swarmed with pigeons.
In years gone by the neighbourhood was actually home to a club for pigeon enthusiasts, the Ontario Giant Runt Club. Apparently, a giant runt refers to a domesticated pigeon. Members would meet on Brock just north of Bloor to trade and race the pigeons they’d breed and domesticate. Though the club is gone, I suspect it has something of a legacy in the neighbourhood. I remember checking out a nearby pet store and being approached by an employee looking to unload a what he claimed was a domesticated pigeon. A relic from the club? Could the old club have something to do with the pigeon hoard across the street from the retirement home?
Stop feeding the pigeons?
Obviously, I’m not the only one to take issue with pigeons. Last summer Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam put forward a motion proposing a ban on feeding pigeons anywhere in the city. It didn’t go anywhere and begs the question of enforcement, but I can appreciate the attempt.
So how do we deal with south west Bloor and Dufferin? I think the answer starts with a little education. Let’s begin with a seemingly counter intuitive defense of pigeons. Did you know that pigeons are actually a domesticated animal? Europeans brought them to the new world hundreds of years ago to raise as livestock, just like chickens. Being able fly made pigeons hard to control and so they spread quickly. So, in a way, they’re more like stray pets than wild animals.
In truth, you might say that we have a special responsibility for pigeons. But here’s the thing, feeding pigeons doesn’t do them any favours. For starters, the bread people tend to give is bad for them. Secondly, the bread we give pigeons may never make to the pigeons. In reality, it’ll probably attract rats. And while pigeons themselves aren’t any more likely to carry disease than any other birds, disease carrying rats are a menace to human health and homes. The other problem is that overfeeding pigeons leads to overbreeding pigeons, and the problem there is poop. Too much poop from any animal, beloved or scorned can be a problem. Pigeon poop can damage buildings and like all feces, pigeon poop can carry bacteria and disease. The problem isn’t the birds themselves but the way we’re dealing with them.
Leave them alone
So, what do we do about pigeons? Firstly, let’s recognize the problem really isn’t pigeons, it’s us. We brought them here and we let them run wild. Now we feed them what might as well be junk food for birds. We’re the reason they’re overpopulated and ultimately, we’re the cause of all the health concerns associated with them. So, for those who hate pigeons, leave them alone, for those that love them, please leave them alone.