Saturday, 11 August 2018

tuppence a bag

I had the thought walking through the city the other day noticing the persistent scratching and pecking of pigeons amid all the rubbish on the streets and wondered if the two factors (pigeons aren’t pests, just opportunistic and very tolerable of human vermin) could be combined to achieve a solution. I don’t want to frame pigeons as underachievers but I don’t know if they can be trained—although doves seem very patient and compliant with prestidigitators and seen to have enjoyed their work as emissaries—to pick up and sort trash.
I’ll have to ask a friend who is a pigeon fancier what he thinks of my scheme. Maybe it’s simpler to train people to be decent and not litter rather than have someone else clean-up after us. In any case—that same thought has been turned into a real exercise at a historic park in France, where rangers and handlers are training rooks to spruce up the place and pick up any stray litter, human visitors being generally respectful about leaving nothing else behind, in exchange for a small morsel of bird food. What do you think? As with any intervention, there could be unforeseen consequences. Perhaps corvids are better at teaching other birds to execute clean-up missions. I think, especially with the insect population dangerously low with knock-on effects up the food chain, maybe this relieves some pressure on the competition for scarce resources by feeding the birds as a reward.