Pigeons are one of the “meats of the future” mentioned in this piece on Discover Magazine’s website by Emily Anthes. She makes the point that environmental concerns may lead us to look for meat in new places, specifically species that are often considered vermin or invasive pests. Personally, I think pigeons are the most appetizing choice from this list. And unlike insects, rats, and squirrels, pigeons have a long history in our cuisine already and feature as a delicacy in dishes around the world. In the U.S. we’ve managed to forget a lot of this history as we’ve become accustomed to see the birds as urban pests. Pigeons lend themselves to local, backyard farming–it’s how they used to be kept. So it makes sense to turn to pigeons as an alternative to industrial farmed poultry.
Archive for the 'superdove' Category
Library Journal lists Superdove as one of its picks for the top Sci-Tech books of 2008!
I appear in this week’s Time Out New York in a section called “My lecture in one minute,” about my talk later today at the New York Public Library. It was actually a fun exercise, like the “elevator speech” we’re all supposed to have about our work.
I’ll be reading from and talking about Superdove on Thursday, March 26 at 5:30 pm at the New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library at 188 Madison Ave in Manhattan.
I just finished up a visit to my hometown of Albuquerque, NM, where I had a really successful reading and booksigning at Bookworks, an independent bookseller. Superdove was also written up in the Albuquerque Journal (subscription required) in a piece by David Steinberg.
One of the fun things about giving talks and interviews about my book has been hearing stories about pigeons from other people. Though we usually hear negative things about pigeons in the media, I’ve been surprised at how many people have had really positive experiences with them–whether it was taking care of their uncle’s homing pigeons, or finding a baby pigeon on the street and helping it. Here’s a little note I got from a reader with a lovely pigeon story:
Dear Ms Humphries,
I am reading Superdove with great pleasure….and have a pigeon story for you. I worked at an urban daycare center in Albany, New York in the early 1970’s. One cold winter morning a child brought in a wounded pigeon, which had a mangled foot and a puncture wound of some sort under its wing. We kept it warm in the kitchen for the day and I took it home that evening.
Before I went to bed I lifted it out of the box to clean its bedding, and set it on the floor some feet away where it watched me with bright eyes. I then sat on the laundry room floor with one hand dangling over my crossed ankles and just watched this lovely gray creature for a moment. Then it hopped on its one good foot over to me, right by my hand, leaned forward and stroked my hand three times. Then it hopped a few more steps and squatted under my knee.
The next morning it was lying dead in its box.
I have loved pigeons ever since, so thank you for writing this book.
I’d love to hear more pigeon stories, good or bad!
A really nice and thoughtful review of Superdove in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review.
An interview with me is in today’s USA Today, complete with photo of me and pigeons (I will never stop being “pigeon girl,” will I?).
I had a brief appearance on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate show while I was in New York. Lots of questions about squab!
This post was originally written for the Gather.com community.
“Oh, you’re writing a book! What’s it about?”
“Well, it’s about…..pigeons.”
I’ve reenacted this exchange in countless cocktail party conversations since I began writing this book a couple of years ago (and even before then, when I was busily working on the idea and proposal for the book). I had to explain to many, many people—friends, family, co-workers, in-laws, strangers—that I was working on a book about a bird that many people consider to be mere vermin, if they’ve considered it at all.
Reactions varied greatly. Some people laughed. Others nodded and smiled vaguely and changed the subject. One or two seemed as impressed as if I’d said I was writing about Abraham Lincoln. An elderly gentleman told me I didn’t look like a pigeon writer, which I took as a compliment. Most people were politely skeptical but also curious. The more I repeated this exchange, the more I began to find a perverse pleasure in seeing how people would react. The pigeon book became a sort of litmus test of my social interactions.
What surprised me is that, after giving it a little thought, most people had many things to say about pigeons—and a lot to ask. Even those who were skeptical at first might end up peppering me with questions after I explained a little more about the project. Pigeons aren’t a subject that most people devote time to thinking about. But we’ve all seen them, so we all have impressions, overlooked memories, and back-of-the-mind thoughts about them.
Watching people gradually unearth these hidden ideas and opinions is one of the pleasures of writing a book about a commonplace animal. I heard about the pigeons that plagued people’s apartment buildings, the homing pigeons their father kept when they were kids, the time they were frightened by a mass of pigeons in Venice, the bird with the broken wing they saw and worried about. People have many different associations with pigeons—as birds, as pests, as pets, as food—and seeing these played out in party conversations was instructive. And now that I’ve finished the book, I’m starting to realize how much I’ve grown to depend on pigeons as my own personal ice-breaker.