When most people think about Venice, Italy, they picture renaissance art, gothic palaces, and romantic gondola rides.
Venice was dreamy for me too.
But my head-over-heels moment was a bit different.
I was at St. Mark’s Square having a love-in with 100 new friends, when a passing tourist sneered at me and insulted my friends.
My “new friends” were a crowd of pigeons. Squatting among them and complimenting their stunning colours, we were having a nice chat when a woman walked by and called over my shoulder “Disgusting, filthy, flying rats.”
Rejected and misunderstood, I couldn’t love pigeons more than I did in that moment.
We humans are afraid and repulsed by what we don’t understand.
Before I’d left for Europe, back in Ontario, a gorgeous Mama pigeon made her nest in an empty pot on my downtown balcony.
She freaked out a little when she realized we were sharing that balcony.
But she’d already laid her eggs and was determined to stick by her babies. At first she’d fly off and watch me from a tree. But we quickly built enough trust that I could read a book while she (or her mate) nested.
I researched my new roommates and discovered:
- Pigeons are one of the most intelligent birds on the planet.
- A white dove is just a common pigeon—which means we should be releasing grey “disgusting” pigeons at ceremonies—unless we’re bird-racist.
- In both the First and Second World Wars, pigeons saved hundreds of thousands of lives by carrying messages across enemy lines.
- They’re extremely clean and there’s little evidence they transmit disease to humans.
- They mate for life, and Moms and Dads take turns on the nest.
- They’re the only non-mammal that can pass the “mirror test” and recognize themselves in a mirror—sadly, pigeon-selfies are not yet a thing.
- Project Sea Hunt trains pigeons to identify red or yellow life jackets when floating in the water, because they’re better at saving human lives than humans.
- There’s even a famous pigeon war hero, Cher Ami—google him.
Being in Malta this year brought back my love affair with pigeons. Thankfully, there was no one yelling insults while I cooed at the little sweeties.
The pigeon has a message for you too.
On the Joycast video above, use your intuition to choose between Curiosity, Synchronicity, Authenticity, and Geometry.
As always, I love hearing from you in the comments below. Are you secretly in love with pigeons—or do they gross you out? I can handle it.