Sunday, 27 November 2011

Postcards From Venice - Our Feathered Enemies

Dear Reader, 

Whilst wandering around the streets and piazzas of Venice I noticed something interesting about the feathered inhabitants of the city. There were a lot of pigeons and also quite a few seagulls wandering about and generally making a nuisance of themselves. They nearly all had one thing in common. They were fat. 

Venetian Pigeon - Chubby

London Pigeon - The Lighter Variety
Being a regular to visitor to London I get to see a lot of pigeons on my travels. London pigeons are straggly little beasts in comparison to their Venetian counterparts. I wondered why this would be and I think I have an answer: the motor car. London pigeons are constantly being harassed by the motor car. Being rather foolish animals you will often find pigeons wandering about in the road looking for little tidbits of food. If the London pigeon wishes to live a full and rewarding life then he better be able to move quickly to get out of the way of cars. Cars do not stop for pigeons. Well, not in London anyway.

The life of the Venetian pigeon is conducted at a far more relaxed pace. The Venetian pigeon has to avoid the feet of tourists and the occasional over enthusiastic dog but that is about it. For a Venetian pigeon to reach a ripe old age, he really needs to go to the gym.

The slower paced life of the Venetian pigeon has other consequences as well. Not for the pigeons themselves but for the many people who visit Venice, including us. In a previous post I related some of the issues my dear lady wife Smiffy had with flying insects whilst in Thailand. A variation of this behavior was exhibited whilst in Venice. The problem here was that as the pigeons were a little overweight they didn't seem too bothered about flying at high altitude. No, they seemed quite happy to cruise along at tourist head height.

Another problem also manifested itself whilst wandering the narrow Venetian lanes. Pigeons on the ground. When on the ground the Venetian pigeon will attempt to walk (waddle, actually) very slowly out of your way. This evasive maneuver would occasionally put itself in the way of another threat which it hadn't spotted previously. A form of panic then sets in which the pigeon will attempt to escape by taking off, without any great consideration of direction as it is (quite literally) in a bit of a flap.

The consequence of all this is that Smiffys' progress through the streets of Venice was erratic to say the least. There would be backwards walking, walking behind me, stopping, running, diagonal darting and all manner of other tactics to avoid the Venetian pigeon. A soundtrack consisting of screeches, sighs, cries of 'Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee kamikaze bloody thing!', instructions to stop, duck or run would also emanate from my much harassed wife.

Venetian seagulls are also worth mentioning. They are also fat and prone to flying at tourist eye-level. Not only are they fat, they are large, about the same size as an Alsatian. They are also insane. I saw one fly off with a small child whilst her mother was buying an ice cream. Having been liberated of several hundred Euros for the ice cream, she turns to find Penelope gone. This sort of thing is so common in Venice that it didn't even make the papers. By this sort of thing, I mean the kidnap of a small child by a seagull, not the cost of the ice cream. Both incidents would have made front page news in the UK.

It occurs to me that I may have made that last bit up.

Venetian Seagulls Larking About.
Or did I?

More soon Dear Reader. xx


  1. I love pigeons.. but never knew about their cruelity... anyway i still love them :D..

    Hope to see you @

  2. That’s amazing. I am seriously impressed and happy for you. I imagine that had to have been so rewarding for you after the long wait.

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