The best Los Angeles story in Sunday's New York Times was a magazine piece about the fight against urban pigeons — and the people who feed them — by neighborhood activists in Hollywood. The story follows guerrilla efforts by the Argyle Civic Association to stop a woman they call Bird Lady from dumping 25-pound bags of seed on sidewalks and parking lots near Hollywood Boulevard. Feeding by humans is the reason pigeon numbers have exploded, say the story's bird experts, who explain that being able to meet their daily food need in a minute of pecking lets the feral birds spend more time procreating. Excerpt:
"Most of the pigeon feeders are in some way crazy,” he said, summarizing, rather informally, a psychological study he helped write on the subject. “It is impossible to influence these people.” The most relentless have no family and few interpersonal relationships. They adopt pigeons as surrogate children. He described women — older women — who worked as phone-sex operators and prostitutes to pay for birdseed. This may be the pigeon’s greatest co-evolutionary triumph: the black magic whereby these grubbing little birds have sought out their depredated, human counterparts and transformed them into senseless disciples.
“They are like martyrs,” Haag-Wackernagel said.
Pigeon feeding is banned in Los Angeles only around Pershing Square, and the piece explains the origins of the 1923 ordinance.