By Colin Jerolmack
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Additional resources for The Global Pigeon
As a result of sustained attention to the pigeons, humans are rewarded with increasingly complex interactions. In both forms, pigeons—if only for the moment—help satisfy pedestrians’ desire for copresence. Unfocused feeding, in which humans paid little or sporadic attention to the pigeons, often occurred when two or more people were together. On one occasion, a middle-aged black woman and her middle-aged white female companion entered the park with sandwiches and sat down, while a nearby white family of four was feeding about twenty pigeons.
For example, Anna wondered aloud where Nasty was, and she would get more upset when Spots went into her pocket for food than Feeding the Pigeons 35 when Nasty did, because Spots was supposed to be the “good” pigeon. Anna saw something in the pigeons that many, including me, missed. She could tell the pigeons apart so that she knew that the same birds were showing up every day, and she would get upset if some went missing. Yet Anna’s association with the pigeons went further than this. Based on an established routine, a relationship emerged.
It is this “impulse” to associate as an end in itself, and the fact that the pigeon brings something out of the person that enables both of them to accomplish structures of interaction together, that 40 chapter one permits people to experience pigeon feeding as a compelling and fulﬁlling form of sidewalk sociability. 18 However, while public spaces provide opportunities for spontaneous interactions, these interactions are not always coveted. Indeed, Jacobs observed that many pedestrians seek to balance a desire for copresence with a demand for privacy.