Ghetto Birds - A story about pigeons
Men has bred pigeons for centuries. He used the birds as flying mailmen and food, as symbols for peace and love. In today’s world pigeons mainly serve as a symbol for misery.
Most people only know the so-called feral pigeon which lives in cities and populates abandoned apartments, ledges and underpasses in great numbers. Those birds are descendants of domesticated pigeons which had been freed or got lost during racing contests. They use buildings as a substitute for their natural habitat because they inherited its ancestors instincts. But since domesticated pigeons have been bred to lay eggs up to eight times a year - instead of two like wild birds - their numbers strongly increased after World War II when the living standard improved and technology made the need for pigeons obsolete. The now-called “flying rats” lead a miserable existence in cities where food is scarce and starvation is the main reason of death.
That pigeons can become a plague in cities remains indisputable. Most of the time men fights pigeons with spikes, nets or even hawks. But conventional bird defence methods have proven to be ineffective. The Frankfurt-based pigeon activists from the ‚Stadttaubenprojekt‘ follow a different path in dealing with feral pigeons. They operate three dens in downtown Frankfurt where they provide food and a save place to live and breed. When the pigeons lay eggs inside the dens the activists exchange the real eggs with dummies to ethically reduce the pigeon population and help to decrease risk for diseases among pigeons and make more food available. Gudrun Stürmer, head of the 'Stadttaubenprojekt‘, and her colleagues also pick up sick and injured pigeons. Those birds are brought to the ‚Gnadenhof‘, a one-of-a-kind pigeon shelter on the outskirts of Frankfurt.
My original plan in November 2017 was to document the work of the ‘Stadttaubenprojekt’. But I noticed that there is bigger story to tell about pigeons, a story that tells more about man than birds. I would like to tell how those animals became an issue and how man can ethically solve the problem he created.