Keep London Clean – Clearing Up Using Tail Feathers

Since my last post on ledge etiquette, I keep getting asked how the tail feather clearing method works. It’s amazing how many pigeons have never considered it, so I ventured to Piccadilly Circus earlier and found a couple willing to demonstrate, Nick and Laurence.

Laurence drew the short straw as the one who had to shit. Shitting on demand is never easy as you can see from the look of extreme concentration. This is obviously on the flat rather than a ledge or lamp, but you’ll get the drift.

Nick had asked Laurence to make it a small one as this was just for demonstration purposes. For a while though, it looked like nothing was happening:

Then, finally, out it came:

The trick to getting a stranger to help is to ask them as quietly and discreetly as possible. Most pigeons have no objection to helping out, but many of them would rather not have the whole world know about it.

Here’s Laurence subtly asking Nick for some assistance:

“Mate, would you mind giving me a hand? I’ve got a small bit of poo that needs clearing.”

It often helps to explain why it is you can’t sweep it up yourself. Have you strained a tail feather? Are you about to go on a date and don’t have time to wash?

The actual sweep up is easy. Just extend the tail feathers, push down, and walk over the pile dragging the tail along the ground. If the pile is sizable, you may need to do this twice. Also, if you’re the pigeon needing the help, it’s polite to take the lead. That way it looks like he or she is just doing some chasing rather than clearing up your shit.

Here’s Laurence leading Nick in the sweep up:

Again, subtlety is key.

As you can see, the shit is now half the size, and flat. It’s not gone completely, but it’s better than it was.

If you’re the one doing the sweeping, don’t forget to wash. A quick dip or sweep through the nearest puddle should do it.

See? Not that hard, and if we all start doing it, it will make for much cleaner and more hygienic sitting spaces.

May 21, 2012. Uncategorized.


  1. I’ve said this before replied:

    […] But you really do need to be reading this blog. […]

  2. Dana replied:

    Nice and subtle. Well done!

  3. Alison Oliphant replied:

    Dear Brian,

    Please would you explain why you and your mates always puff up your neck feathers while you’re sweeping, and why it’s always behind a particularly cute female. Could it be that ladies are supposed to be impressed by males doing the domestic chores (if only they’d bloody well stop eating and generally ignoring this magnificent demonstration of prowess)?


    • pigeonblog replied:

      Hi Alison
      It generally is the males who clear up the shit anyway, and fair enough. Who wants a female with shit on her tail? Know what I’m saying? You’re right though, they never appreciate it even when it’s followed by a shag.
      Your pal

  4. Wyatt replied:

    What a beautifully captured moment hahaha!

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