I began to notice more pigeons. I was engrossed in reading, sitting on a bench, in Washington Square Park, early late spring evening. They seemed to be flocking near my proximity, more and more, the Alfred Hitchcock film is the obvious analogy. I glance up and these two women, one noticeably older than the other are not just feeding pigeons, they are landing on them, feeding from their hands, like they're St. Francis of Assisi. They are calling them by name. They’ve named these birds. The pigeons were responding. Squirrels too, one by one, acting, well, sort of squirrelly, not as ready to eat but they did take food from the hand.
I asked what they were feeding them. Bird seed. Just bird seed. The squirrels that came close enough got a peanut, the pigeons got the bird seed. Sparrows were on the outer edges of the swarming squabs. Must be a real treat for these birds to eat classic seed, as opposed to the other scraps available for scavenge.
Did they respond to their name?
“Oh yes, we’ve named a lot of them. We’re here every day. The squirrels can be aggressive, you have to be careful, and they bite. But the pigeons are very intelligent animals, they know their names.”