Blog post: written by Mckenna
A brief view of the Parisian life… in the context of pigeons
I sit down to meet my supervisor, Alexandre – cofounder of L’atelier du Français- in the park of Les Archives Nationales. After some brief introductions, he opens his laptop to begin explaining his company and the exciting work he would like me to complete for him. About two minutes into this interaction, however, I hear some leaves rustling from aloft and a see rapidly moving entity falling adjacent from my head. Suddenly I feel a weighted and, unfortunately, warm sample of green goo slap onto my hand. I’m taken back; there’s no way a bird just pooped on me immediately into meeting my supervisor. What am I supposed to do now?
Thankfully, I have an obsessive mother who insisted that since I will be traveling and working in Paris this summer, I must always keep shower wipes on me- you know, just in case my antiperspirant wears off, or in this case, if a bird poops on me.
While wiping the feces off my hand and my numerous rings, Alexandre gives me a secondary hand wipe and reminds me that a bird pooping on you is good luck, in fact it means future wealth. What an odd way to break the ice between two individuals? We continued with our meeting and later joked about me writing about this nauseating experience.
A peculiar sign of good luck
It’s a strange phenomenon that bird poop could translate to good luck and although an unpleasant incident, it made me more aware of the every-day pigeon. I began to notice how integrated they were with the commuters, the tourists, the storeowners, and anyone having an interaction with the streets of Paris. Every city or town has a common animal, which blends into human society.
For example, going to school in Ann Arbor, Michigan you see squirrels and hares that go unnoticed, even though they are only a foot from yourself. For Paris, this animal happens to be pigeons.
the ever-roaming flying-rats
They are quite depressing beings, begging for scraps or crumbs, and always fearing the common shoe of the fast-paced city. I remember growing up my sister always called them “flying rats”, as to compare them to the foul nature of the city rats that roam the night. Surprisingly, both rats and pigeons are both largely clean animals themselves; rats groom themselves and pigeons often take baths.
Although pigeons are thought to be unhygienic, there is little evidence of them being significant transmitters of disease. These mostly unproblematic birds have lived in close vicinity of humans for thousands of years. Although I wouldn’t recommend touching one, or its feces for that matter, maybe these birds should not be taken for granted. After all, they do bring good luck.
The past several days I’ve watched as pigeons run to fly from the proximity of my tennis shoe. I’ve seen male pigeons continuously taunt females for mating- I guess they have yet to experience a patriarchal awakening due to a feminist movement. Even though conspiracist believe that birds are government robots, which led to the popular movement, “Birds Aren’t Real”, these birds truly do see everything.
Whether it be someone at the break of dawn buying their freshly made baguette at their local boulangerie, a parent yelling “dépêche-toi” at their child to walk faster, a couple getting engaged at the Wall of Love, or a hapless homeless person attempting to preserve their warmth on the sidewalk, it is seen by these pigeons. If only they spoke a human’s language, they would truly be the eyes and ears of this magnificent city.