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Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Pigeons need a strong
dose of humility

THE problem with pigeons is they never know when to leave a party. They hang out, getting on people's nerves until someone brings up the idea of just killing them all.

People like their animals either caged or cowering. That's why certain animals are in zoos. That's why dogs are on leashes. That's why a mongoose darts through bushes. That's why the chicken crosses the road. But pigeons just strut around in huge gobs, in public places, turning over garbage cans, smoking in the parking lot and beating up mynah birds.

That's why the city is paying federal pigeon hitmen to knock off as many pigeons as possible. Pigeons have gotten too big for their feathered britches. Paying $42,000 to have our pigeons killed is heartless and crass. I mean, there are local people who would do it for half that much. Me, for instance.

The indictment against pigeons is vague. They carry diseases, we are told. And yet, can you think of one person who has come down with a pigeon-related illness? Has anyone in your family contracted ebola pigeonola?

The fact is, some people want pigeons killed simply out of jealousy. Pigeons don't show people respect. They don't scamper under the house like wild mongooses do when we approach. They don't sit on command. They don't catch mice. They don't perform amusing tricks. They just congregate and make annoying cooing sounds.

A state wildlife official said more than 4,000 pigeons have been captured and killed in recent years. But thousands are still out there because people keep feeding them.

"Any wildlife, once you start feeding it, becomes a problem," he said, which explains the elephant in my back yard. It showed up one day and I tossed it a few sunflower seeds. Now it's uprooting trees and making advances on my pickup truck.

IRONICALLY, most complaints about pigeons come from the area surrounding the Honolulu Zoo. More than 10,000 pigeons once loafed in and around the zoo. That, I believe, caused a certain amount of resentment among the animals in cages. I suspect that if they traced the calls complaining about those pigeons, most would lead to the flamingo exhibit. ("Hey, mister, can't you do something about all those damn pigeons hanging around the zoo? How come THEY'RE not forced to live in some lousy little cement pond? What are they, special? Enslaving certain flying animals and letting others go free is nothing more than institutional birdism. Either get rid of the pigeons or free the flamingos. I mean, all the birds. Not just flamingos. Although, if you can only free certain zoo birds, then flamingos would be a good choice.")

The flamingos have a point. Birdism is rampant. Pigeons may have it great compared to flamingos, but flamingos have it good over, say, frying chickens (Safewayus indigenous).

Animal rights activists are naturally in a tizzy over the plan to capture and kill pigeons. Animal rights activists are rarely neutral. They can go from zero to tizzy in 3 seconds flat. They believe birth control is the answer to the pigeon population problem, which is admirable in a silly, ridiculous way. Look, pigeons are arrogant, self-consumed, narcissistic little blighters. They've got wings and yet they choose to strut around on the ground like feathered James Cagneys. If you can't get them to stop pooping on your car, you certainly can't get them to wear condoms.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to

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