Pata loves pigeons. She doesn’t care that they are dirty or that they poop indiscriminately, she notices only their beady little eyes and rhythmic, head-bobbing gait. Last month we travelled to Milan and Venice, where she was excited to see them congregate in large groups. One of us, I can’t remember who, came up with the term ‘pigeon parties’ to describe the phenomenon, and it stuck. Soon after she persuaded me to photograph them. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and I decided to focus on smaller groupings. But even these didn’t always lend themselves to satisfying compositions, so I will share only the three best parties with you.
This was my favorite of all the pigeon parties. After I took the first photo, the pigeon at the center smoothed his feathers and shifted position.
His movement startled his two companions, one of whom turned to face me as though posing for the camera. The pigeon on the left looks a bit reticent, trying to duck out of the photo in a noncommital way. I sometimes do the same when I don’t want to be photographed but don’t feel assertive enough to stand up and walk away.
We came upon this more intimate pigeon party in Piazza San Marco in Venice. Am I right in thinking that the pigeon looking directly out at the viewer is perturbed that he is being photographed?
Back in Milan, we discovered that pigeons like Manzoni, but his company doesn’t encourage them to interact with one another. I shot this from afar using a zoom lens, but I have the impression that those pigeons were staring at me.
‘Is the white stuff on the statue their poop?’ Pata wanted to know.
‘What do you think?’ I asked her.
‘Gross,’ she said.
‘You’re the one who likes pigeons,’ I reminded her.
Alright, these aren’t pigeons but she made me photograph them anyway. Then she was looking over my shoulder as I was uploading photos and was disappointed that I wanted to delete this one.
‘But it’s just a couple of seagulls. They are nasty birds,’ I told her.
‘Mommy, it’s a seagull PARTY,’ she told me, as though that were reason enough to keep it. Well I guess it was, because here it is.