Friday, November 14, 2008

Pigeons: An Origin Story

There's a flock of pigeons hanging out in front of AKKA Karate today, reminding me of when I used to be obsessed with where the hell pigeons came from. It was one of my two great scientific mysteries, the other one being how ants can be upside down for so long if they have a nonvascular blood system where the blood is pumped from the bottom of the body to the top and drips over the organs. They don't write about that shit in science books so I had no idea (still don't about that ant thing).

When I was living in Seattle, I got totally obsessed with pigeon origins because there were just so damn many of them there. On the bus stop to West Seattle (where I first lived when I moved there) from downtown there were always 5 or more pigeons hanging around, begging for scraps and eating trash. The worst one was the guy I called Ole Gimpy because he had one missing foot. He stumped around very resiliently, but his tattered feathers showed an obvious inability to care for himself. Gimpy was the worst, but he certainly wasn't all that different from the others. All had patchy, askew feathers and usually some other obvious deformity or injury. Watching them peck out their miserable existence, besides being remarkably like reading a Dickens novel, made me wonder why pigeons only live in cities if it's so crappy for them.

Like the ant thing, I couldn't find anything that talked about it so I wallowed in my burning curiosity for a while, which really amused the guy I was dating at the time. But eventually I wrote a blog on MySpace about it (subsequently deleted however) and one of my friends in response was finally able to tell me the history of pigeons.

Apparently, they used to live in enormous flocks of hundreds but during the Western Expansion, they were hunted heavily for game and eventually their birdy society suffered a melt down, leaving them the poor beggars they are now. Which pretty much sounds like the story of most societies upon meeting advancing Western forces.

Anyway, pigeons! Now you know.

Related posts:
Giving Nature a Helping Hand
When Pigs Ruled the Earth!
When Elephants Rule the Earth!
Detox Your Petcare (How To)

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Joe Pontillo said...

The white man strikes again.

Pigeon Power! We shall overcome! Squit / Pesto in 2016!

badabum said...

Good question.

Like other insects, ants have an exoskeleton, an external covering that provides a protective casing around the body and a point of attachment for muscles, in contrast to the internal skeletons of humans and other vertebrates. Insects do not have lungs; oxygen and other gases like carbon dioxide pass through their exoskeleton through tiny valves called spiracles. Insects also lack closed blood vessels; instead, they have a long, thin, perforated tube along the top of the body (called the "dorsal aorta") that functions like a heart, and pumps haemolymph towards the head, thus driving the circulation of the internal fluids. The nervous system consists of a ventral nerve cord that runs the length of the body, with several ganglia and branches along the way reaching into the extremities of the appendages.

Gotta love wikipedia :)

Pigeons ARE very succesfull, I call'em flying racoons (or rats, come to think of it). :)

Kelly oxo said...

Pigeons do live in suburbia. Hawks also live in the burbs, hawks eat pigeons, which is why you won't see many pigeons out in the country. Pigeons are the athlete's of the bird world, they have very powerful upper bodies. They used pigeons during WW2, to carry messages to evade Nazi's. So I think they deserve some respect. They make really entertaining pets, they're goofy, and smart, and sweet. They are targets of a lot of predators out in the country. I see a few hiding under the underpass of bridges out in the country.