It used to be that squirrels feared the pigeon. So much so, in fact, that they used to hide soon as they saw one of us.
Here’s one doing just that in Hyde Park.
Now you see him:
Now you don’t:
Where did it all go wrong?
It seems all around London, ever since the outing of their intended takeover of the urban landscape, the squirrels are shitting themselves.
Check this out. A picture sent to me by the mighty Annie Mole, taken in St James’s Park, that clearly demonstrates the dominant position currently held by the pigeon:
Note his nonchalant stroll clearly taking the day in his stride while the squirrel exhibits a look of stricken panic as he desperately tries to escape.
Bring it on.
Yet again, it’s been a while, but just had to share this one. Jesus. Was looking around for shit about whether or not the pizza offers any nutritional benefit whatsoever, when I came across this. Can’t remember why as I’m pretty sure it doesn’t do pizza. In fact, looking at it, I’m not entirely certain it eats at all, ever. How the fuck could it with no fucking beak and a neck like a feathery pitta? Unless of course it extends it in a swan like fashion which, judging by the pissed look in the eye, I suspect it doesn’t:
And what the fuck is going on at the back? Put it away, you total and utter knob.
Becca sent me this. Cheers Becca! It appears a rather frightening new trend is emerging in the parks of London. Pigeon licking. Jesus. Not only that, but those who partake are sporting t-shirts to prove it, and I believe there’s even a Facebook group:
Not that I would ever diss me own kind but, I have to say, even I wouldn’t ‘lick’ a pigeon per se. Not as such. Perhaps a gentle graze of the toe or lower leg prior to jumping on largely as a token gesture, but that’s about it.
Any of you out there spot any of these so-called ‘Pigeon lickers’, let me know. Freaks.
So ingrained is the idea that pigeons are fat bastards, there’s even a statue of one:
Jesus. Worrying stuff.
My good pal RoooRoooo sent me the link having spotted its appearance in the ‘Museum of Fat‘. Kid you not. An entire museum dedicated to all things fat. WTF? Cheers for sending it RoooRoooo!
Gonna head out this weekend, weather permitting, to interview some of London’s largest pigeons to find out why it is they have chosen to let themselves go in quite such a drastic and frankly scary way.
In the meantime, Mart came up with a top idea. A simple and easy to use device for measuring exactly how fat a pigeon has become.
It’s quite simple really. Either you fit, or you don’t.
Here’s Mart demonstrating how it works:
So, thankfully, it seems not all obese pigeons are happy just to wallow in their fatness. Some are even trying to do something about it. I caught up with Fit Nigel at the weekend who told me business is positively booming at the moment.
Fit Nigel, so-called because of his extreme fitness, runs the Southbank Pigeon Fat Camp situated on a grassy square next to the Millennium Wheel. The S.P.F.C. has been going for about 6 months and specialises in helping pigeons who are concerned about their weight, get back into shape. “Generally speaking, these are pigeons who gave up on flying a long time ago” says Fit Nigel, “It’s like starting from scratch with some of them.”
He invited me along to his Monday morning session to see for myself. He wasn’t wrong.
I turned up in what can only be described as the most appallingly shit weather conditions, and there they were – at least a dozen or so of the fattest pigeons I have seen for quite some time.
Fair play, it was fucking cold so a few of them had puffed up, but still, there was no disguising the obvious weight issues which, in some cases, were clearly way out of control.
I spoke to one of the attendees, Duncan, and asked him what his story was.
This is Duncan:
Duncan said he had been sent along by his other half who had told him in no uncertain terms that the reason she didn’t let him shag her anymore was she found his obesity repulsive. She told him she could no longer see beyond it, even when she closed her eyes. Basically, faced with the prospect of never having sex again, she left Duncan no option. Shape up or fuck off. This is his fourth class and he says he’s already noticing a marked difference not only in the reduction of his waistline, but also in an increase in confidence. I asked him if he’d enjoyed any results yet in the shagging department. “Damn straight!” he replied, “Old bird can’t get enough of it these days!” Fair play.
There were others, however, who didn’t seem as keen, like Valerie. Valerie wouldn’t talk to me, unfortunately, but it was clear on seeing the efforts Nigel had to go to trying to motivate her during class that she wasn’t remotely interested. Frankly, I have no fucking idea why she bothered turning up.
This is at the start of the class. Fit Nigel asks the group to walk around in a large circle until he says stop:
They all move off, apart from one – Valerie (centre), who just sits there.
Fit Nigel (left) moves in to give her some one to one encouragement:
Initially he suggests a little movement would warm her up and she’d enjoy it once she got going. Nothing.
So he tries the slightly firmer more military style approach:
He tells her that if she doesn’t start to move he’ll have to ask her to leave the class as the other pigeons will only trip over her and she was therefore causing an unnecessary health and safety hazard. Nothing.
Finally, he resorts to demonstrating a simple stretching exercise that she could try from a static standing position:
“Just throw the head back and grab those tail feathers!”
Still nothing. Jesus. Patience of a fucking Saint, or what?
…this was the point at which Fit Nigel lost interest and gave up. Don’t blame him. By and large though, the rest of the pigeons I saw were right up for it and I was more than impressed by their dedication to the cause of shedding the pounds.
If there are any pigeons out there are interested in joining Fit Nigel’s Southbank Pigeon Fat Camp, membership is free and classes run from Monday to Saturday. For the full timetable and to find out which class suits you, your best bet is to go see him and have a chat.
Next I’m going to tackle the tricky and often sensitive subject of diet and what should and really shouldn’t be eaten.
No question about it, obesity in the pigeon world is on the up. Wandering about over the weekend, I couldn’t help noticing how there are fat pigeons everywhere these days. In some ways, considering free seed handouts are a thing of the past and less people seem to be chucking their takeaways, it’s quite surprising. I decided to go speak to some of them. Find out what it’s all about.
This is the first one I found who was kind enough to interrupt her eating to talk to me. Name was Henrietta. Not sure why it is, but fat pigeons always seems to have fat pigeon names. She was never going to be called something sexy like Susie or Alicia. Had to be Henrietta:
Henrietta – a pigeon who’s seen better days.
I asked Henrietta what she had eaten that day. She told me she had been lucky enough to find half a buttered bagel on Compton Street and, as there were no other pigeons around at the time, she’d been able to keep most of it herself. I asked her, as it was a whole half bagel, whether it might have been nicer and fairer to have shared it with her fellow pigeons? She didn’t say anything. She just licked a crumb from her beak, shuffled about a bit on her stumpy legs, and looked down at the pavement clearly ashamed of her greed. I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then.
So, having established that she was one of those fat fucks who liked to keep her food to herself, eating in secret whenever possible, I asked her what her preferred form of exercise was. Her response was worrying. First thing she said, whilst laughing in quite a scary way, was ‘Sex!’. I think she could sense my fear, so she changed it to ‘flying, occasionally.’ It was the use of the word ‘occasionally’ that concerned me. She said she found flying boring. Boring? How can a pigeon find flying boring? It’s about the only thing we get to do that’s of any real interest. I asked her if she’d ever flown to the Thames. She looked at me with a blank expression and asked me what the Thames was. Jesus.
So, Henrietta – a pigeon who obviously spends most of her days staggering through the streets of Soho grazing on whatever shit she stumbles upon, probably never venturing any further than Shaftsbury Avenue. A great example of what not to do. What really concerns me is there didn’t seem to be any interest whatsoever in self-improvement…
Quite simply, if she carries on doing what she’s doing, she will just get larger and larger until one day, when flying and probably even walking are mere distant memories, she’ll simply explode, and it won’t be pretty. Not even slightly. I reckon death through explosion has got to be one of the most undignified ways to go. Think on Henrietta. In the meantime, I’m off today with Mart to go find me some more more fat pigeons. Maybe even offer them some dietary advice? Discuss an exercise regime possibly? I didn’t get the chance to go there with Henrietta. There I was mid sentence when she spotted a crust, her eyes glazed over, and she was off.
A while back, when I posted about how the Robins were revolting because they’d been usurped by the Wood Pigeon in the Top 10 Garden Birds list, a load of you emailed me asking me what a Dunnock was seeing as it appeared at number 5 just above the Robin, and was clearly way bigger than the sparrow who only made it to number 9.
Being of the birdfolk myself, have to say I was mildly embarrassed by the fact I had absolutely no fucking idea what a Dunnock was.
It crossed my mind that they may have flown over from Poland or Croatia and just decided to make urban gardens their habitat of choice due to the succulent plant life, but ‘Dunnock’ didn’t look like a particularly Eastern European name, so I figured it must be a Brit bird that had simply slipped through the net due to its size, and what is described as its ‘drab appearance’.
Drab? ‘Drab’ has got to be the worst ever. ‘Tone neutral’ – maybe. ‘Lacking in colour’ – possibly, but ‘drab’? Hilarious.
Saying that, they weren’t wrong:
All I could do was hope the Dunnock made up for it in character…
Seeing as they tend to keep themselves to themselves and spend most of their time hiding in bushes it took me a while to find one. And then I did, sitting in a bush, and quickly discovered the word ‘drab’ didn’t merely refer to the colour of their feathers. Perfectly polite and well mannered, just nothing to contribute of any interest. Pointless, in fact. Oh dear.
Interview went something like this:
Me: “So, not met a Dunnock before. How’s it going today?”
Dunnock: “Fine, thanks.”
Me: “What you up to sitting in this bush? Is this how you normally spend your time, or is it only on Thursdays?”
Dunnock: “No. I come everyday.”
Me: “Everyday? The same bush, everyday?”
Dunnock: “Don’t know. I just like it.”
Me: “As bushes go, granted it has got a certain something, but everyday?”
The Dunnock said nothing. He just stared out of the bush.
Me: “Can I ask what you get up to sitting in your bush?”
Dunnock: “Nothing really. Think a bit. That kind of thing.”
That was it. I’d had enough and fucked off sharpish for fear of pecking my own eyes out.
So what is it about the Dunnock considering it fails on both plumage and personality? There must be something otherwise it wouldn’t be at number 5…
It didn’t take long to find out. Fat Jesus, wish I’d known this fact before the interview. Goes some way to explaining the slightly nervous disposition and why it is the poor fella spends most of his days in hiding:
“This species makes up for its drab appearance with its breeding behaviour. Females are often polyandrous, breeding with two males at once, and thus giving rise to sperm competition… Males provide parental care in proportion to their mating success, so it is not uncommon to see two males and a female provisioning nestlings at one nest.“
Sperm competition? WTF? Humiliating stuff and no help whatsoever for those already suffering from ‘small bird syndrome’.
So it seems the Dunnock has a dirty little secret. The females are, broadly speaking, slags with wings.
Got me thinking though. I should probably revisit the Dunnock one day. Encourage him to open up. Maybe help him work through some of the issues…