Features

Why Are Pigeons’ Feet So Fucked Up?

Seriously. It’s bothering me. Can someone explain it?

Why Are Pigeons’ Feet So Fucked Up?

illustration by Elizabeth Baddeley

+ Enlarge this Image
Courtesy Of Danny Lubniewski
MANGLED But it won’t cramp this bird’s style—one of the 3,000 pigeons Danny 
Lubniewski says he’s helped.

My story begins with a pigeon trying to get laid. This happened not too long ago at the bus stop across the street from the Mecca Cafe on Lower Queen Anne. The traffic on the street was heavy and loud. The sun was beating in the middle of a clear blue sky. And on an area of sunbaked sidewalk beside the bus shelter, this male pigeon had forgotten that the world all around it existed and was completely focused on the ancient trick of puffing itself up to appear bigger than it actually was. The female had her back/tail to him, but he kept trying to get her attention by walking in circles and bobbing his head up and down, as he emitted strange sounds from deep within his exaggerated throat. All the female wanted to do was peck at the little bits of tips and dust on the sidewalk in peace. But the more the female ignored the male's performance, the bigger became his body, the faster his circles, and the louder his throaty sounds. He was so convinced that he could impress her successfully with the very same dance, the same noises, the same head business that all other males of his kind employ to seduce females.

This small moment in the time of my life would have entered oblivion (my bus arrives, I board the bus, the bus departs, and I never think about those birds ever again) if it had not been for one thing: All four toes on the male pigeon's right foot were missing. Its left foot was fine (toes, nails, everything), but its right one was no better than the nub of a crutch. And so, not only was he bobbing his head like a human whose brain has been turned to mush by mad cow disease and making sounds that, if amplified, could be used by the pro-torture members of our intelligence community to break the will of the most fanatical terrorists—not only that, but he was also hobbling on a stump like some sea-addled pirate from the old days of planks, buckles, bandannas, and skull flags. Indeed, the bird's gait was so wobbly that each step it took seemed barely able to prevent the horny thing from collapsing into a sad heap of feathers and shame.

True, the female pigeon's disinterest in the male had nothing to do with this ugly stump (which seemed to be bandaged with a tiny once-white rag—I may have imagined this), but I'm a member of an animal species that just loves to anthropomorphize the activities, expressions, and gestures of other animals. We love to see ourselves in a dog's smile, or a cat's curiosity, or a rat's nervousness, or a crow's cold calculation, or the way raccoons hold objects with their sensitive fingers. In my human eyes, the female pigeon at the bus stop on that sunny afternoon was simply horrified by this mangled and bandaged creature. What in the world made him think that she (a healthy female with handsome black and purple features and big red eyes) would even give him the time of day? Could you imagine being fucked by a bird with a rotting stump? What would she say to her friends? How could she ever live that down? Pigeons mate for life.

But no such thing was on her mind. She was treating him in exactly the same way that she treated almost all the other male birds in this city that tried to get into her feathers. Finally, the male with the stump leg gave up the song and dance and began doing something that was a little more productive: pecking at the sidewalk.

There is that great moment in The Usual Suspects when, in a flash of illumination, the detective sees a pattern on the messy bulletin board and realizes that the evil underworld king Keyser Söze, the criminal he desperately wants to put behind bars, is actually the cripple who has just left the police station. Something like this happened to me when, not long after seeing that horny male pigeon with the stump leg, I recognized a pattern forming in my own messy mind: Many pigeons had one or two or three or all four toes missing. I then began to give some attention to the feet of pigeons, trying to see if this was indeed the case, if mangled feet were a common thing with this most synanthropic species. And if so, why was such the case?

From my observations of about 40 pigeons in the downtown area, Pioneer Square, and Little Saigon (particularly near the telephone wires on 12th Avenue), I came to conclude that at least one in every seven pigeons had bad feet. Though the result was by no means drawn from anything like a scientifically controlled sample (I could easily have seen the same crippled bird several times), it still indicated that there might be something there, something worth looking into. If pigeon feet are susceptible to permanent damage, why? I looked at the crows in my neighborhood, Columbia City, to see if this is a problem affecting birds generally, and could not find even one with fucked up feet—but then again, crows' feet are not as visible as those of pigeons, which are distinctly scaly and colored like Pepto-Bismol.

Common city pigeons descend from the rock doves of the North African and Asian sea-cliffs (the crashing waves, the stormy sky, and the safety of ledges and caves on cliffs' faces became the loud traffic on streets, the droning planes in the sky, and the safety of the ledges and cracks on the faces of skyscrapers), and were brought to this region as pets and food by settlers. (The Northwest also has a native species of pigeon called the band-tailed pigeon; it has yellow feet and can be found in the wilder parts of the city, like Carkeek Park. Band-tailed pigeons do not mate with city pigeons.) The common city pigeon has three toes in the front and one in the back. The middle toe in the front is the longest and also usually has the longest nail. If you stare at a pigeon's feet long enough, two thoughts eventually enter your mind: One, you think they need to cut their nails, which seem to grow with no limit. Two, you begin to wonder if they are at all the best feet to have for urban life, which is always a hard life, a concrete life.

"There are three main reasons for limb loss in pigeons," explains Chris Anderson, a biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "One is an urban predator, like the peregrine falcon. So you can imagine that the peregrine went one way and the pigeon just got lucky and went another way, but it didn't escape without an injury. And there are also feral cats. Pigeons are often on the ground. We are often feeding them on the ground, and that concentrates them there. Then a cat attacks and almost gets one. So there is that. Then it could also get caught on something. These birds are in an urban environment, and our built structures aren't made for animals to nest on—you know, the Macy's building or something. These places are not built for the animals, so they get caught on things, get an injury, and maybe one of their toes gets infected and falls off. And that's the third and last way: an infection, a disease.

"Birds are quite good at this, and people who own chickens have seen this as well, but as long as it doesn't make the rest of the bird sick and it's a pretty localized injury, they tend to do well. So there are also stories of chickens running around with a stubby foot. It's a strategy for getting around and making do with what you've got. For example, pigeons do not live long, though they live longer in captivity [up to 13 years]. Out in the city, they don't live that long [about 3 years], and if they can still make it by with a peg leg and they are still able go out and eat the crackers and Cheetos and go forth and produce more pigeons, it would make sense for them to deal with those infections as quickly and efficiently as possible."

Since Anderson seems to like describing how predators keep pigeons in check, I ask him: Do you like pigeons? "We are never going to get rid of them," he says. "They have been with us for thousands of years. They are here to stay. The good thing is the falcons can put a hurt on them; otherwise, they would just be everywhere and pooping everywhere. But they are fun to watch when they are courting. They have quite a strut."

Cynthia Roberts, the woman behind the UK website Pigeon and Dove Rescue, doesn't think it's a predator issue. "Although I have rescued a lot of predated pigeons, I have never yet seen a pigeon that has had its feet damaged by a predator. They go for the fleshy bits," Roberts tells me over e-mail. "The closest I came to 'predated feet' was a dead pigeon that had had its toes eaten by mice."

Though she is not a veterinarian, Roberts's website is a great online resource for those who find themselves in the unfamiliar situation of having to help a trapped or injured or orphaned pigeon. "In providing this information, I am not intending to replace professional veterinary treatment (please read legal disclaimer at foot of page), but to enable rescuers to help a pigeon when veterinary expertise is not available..." she states on the website. Later on the same page: "I have included information on how to fight culls and help trapped pigeons, two of the uglier aspects of our society and its unwillingness to live in harmony with the wildlife that share this planet with us." Roberts identifies herself as a pigeon lover and those who use her site as pigeon lovers.

"There are a few diseases that damage urban pigeons' feet... Pox is one, but pox certainly never destroys the whole foot," Roberts says. "I would say that 99.9 percent of the pigeons with damaged feet I have seen owe the damage to the carelessness of human beings in disposing of their rubbish. It isn't just guesswork—the cotton, hair, fishing line is still evident after toes and even feet have been lost, embedded deeply into the skin."

Human hair, I ask? "Human hair is awful. If it tightens around a bird's foot, it digs in deeply and it doesn't snap. It is extremely difficult for even a rescuer to get an implement like a seam cutter under embedded hair to remove it, and soaking it doesn't soften it."

But how in the world does human hair end up on a pigeon's foot, I ask? "People are actually advised to leave their hair clippings out for birds to use in nest building. Women with long hair will remove the hair from their hairbrushes and drop it out of the window for the birds (I have seen them do this), thinking it will help the birds. But the damage it does, particularly to pigeons who will turn in circles and therefore get the long hair tangled round both feet, then tightened, is just terrible."

When I tell her I have never heard of humans leaving their hair out for birds, Roberts then sends me links to several websites that do indeed advise people to give birds their hair.

For example, Bill Thompson writes on BirdWatchersDigest.com: "Offer pet or human hair in onion bags or put in obvious places. If you looked at a hundred bird nests, chances are that most of them would have some animal hair in them. It's soft, insulating, and easy to gather. When you groom your pet (or when you yourself are groomed), save the hair to spread around your backyard for the birds to use."

According to the Daily Mail: "When Brian Williams has his hair cut by his wife every month, he's not the only one who feels the benefit. His wife Joan collects the clippings on a sheet and shakes them out into the garden—where the birds then pick them up to make nests. Mr. Williams, 68, a retired teacher, was astonished to find that a goldfinch, a greenfinch, and a robin have all collected his grey locks and used them to build homes in his garden."

Josh Peterson on Planet Green: "A cooky [sic] way to keep your hair clippings out of the dumpster is by leaving it out for the birds. This sounds crazy, but birds will build nests with your hair. They will also build nests out of your pet's hair." This recommendation was reposted by the Huffington Post, under the headline "Old Hair Is for the Birds: They'll Use It for a Nest."

Roberts says in another e-mail: "I would never take a thread into my aviary and certainly never discard any there, yet I found one of my pigeons had managed to get his foot quite tightly tangled in a length of thread while he was in the aviary. I have no idea where the thread came from, but the pigeon's foot certainly found it quickly, and I wonder whether there is something about the way they walk that ensures that if there is any thread, hair, or fishing line around, their toes will pick it up and facilitate the entanglement that leads to such damage."

There are some who blame the feet deformities of pigeons not on predators or humans but on pigeons themselves. When an unknown person asked this question on the Guardian's website, "Why do so many London pigeons have missing toes or feet? Is it the result of being run over by taxis or do they suffer from a disease?" the most popular and striking answer was this, by Heather Bingham: "People do use pesticides to deter pigeons from roosting and this could be harmful to their feet. However, if pigeon shit is harmful to masonry, it is surely capable of rotting flesh and blood. It is standing in their own shit that causes pigeons to lose their feet and not necessarily the chemicals used by man. The question needs to be why they insist on standing in their own detritus—to this I have no answer." Nor do I.

To get an expert opinion of Bingham's shit theory, I call Anderson back, but he is on vacation. I then e-mail the theory to Danny Lubniewski, who is known to the world as the Birdman of Long Beach, though he currently lives in Dallas (he moved there to be close to his kids). Lubniewski, who claims to have rescued and doctored an astounding 3,000 pigeons, and who also provided me with lots of pics of mutilated pigeon feet, responds: "I never read such a bunch of crap in my life. Pigeons are extremely clean... The reason so many pigeons are missing toes is for one reason, basically. Their toes were tied like in the photos I sent you. The string, hair, and fishing line tightens up, gradually cutting off circulation, and after much torture, the toes will finally fall off." He calls Bingham's theory "garbage" and "the stupidest thing I read in years."

To conclude: I can see how strings, wire, and shit could be a problem for the pigeons of Seattle, but not human hair—the strange practice of donating the stuff to the feathered kind does not appear to be popular here. (Chris Anderson did indeed confirm that Seattleites are not big hair donors.) But now that we have heard from a commenter and three experts (one by education, Anderson, and two by passion, Roberts and Lubniewski), I think we can say exactly why so many pigeons have messed up feet. The answer, of course, will appear in the strong theoretical light of Darwinian evolution. (Indeed, the success of that hypothesis and its rise to the status of a theory owes a great deal to pigeons—read the first chapter of The Origin of Species.) Without the theory of evolution, we are in the dark.

Now Roberts and the Guardian commenter Bingham provide us with what in biology is called a proximate cause (human stuff or pigeon shit are big problems for pigeon feet), but Anderson, the biologist, offers us the deeper, ultimate, and therefore evolutionary cause: "They can still make it by with a peg leg." Meaning, many pigeons have bad feet because in the end, bad feet, missing toes, do not kill them or cramp their style. If, say, female pigeons (which, by the way, are also susceptible to limb loss) refused to mate with crippled males, then we would see pigeons evolve the kind of feet that are tough enough to deal with hair, string, shit, and predators. But that has not and may not ever happen. So even if a pigeon is missing all of its toes, it can still eat, still get around the city, and still do the dance that gets it laid and paired for life. recommended

 

Comments (59) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
When I worked at the aquarium the bird biologist told me the shore birds would develop a condition called bumblefoot if their pens only had flat surfaces. She said they need to walk on uneaven surfaces to flex their feet and keep this from happening.
Posted by Seattle in Alaska on August 21, 2013 at 9:18 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 2
So worth waiting for! Thank you, Charles.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on August 21, 2013 at 9:34 AM · Report this
3
I love this.
Posted by piratesmile on August 21, 2013 at 10:11 AM · Report this
superhyrulean 4
Man,is this what the stranger is reduced to? Articles about pigeons? This paper IS for the birds...well,anyway,I can also tell you why the pigeon's feet are messed up,it is because to prevent them from roosting up in a awning or on a ledge,near a bussness where they can camp out and bother people for food and get out of the rain,shit on people,and bulid a nest and attack people... So,to stop this, they use SPIKES OR NAILS on the ledge or inside the awning...the dumb birds try to fly and walk on these and they fuck their feet up...they do build nests on these spiky awnings and it cuts up their feet...it is like if I threw thumbtacks and nails all over the stranger office and told you to get to work making this paper for a year in this mess without cleaning it...
Posted by superhyrulean on August 21, 2013 at 10:26 AM · Report this
5
Bumblefoot make more sense than anything....
Posted by secret lee on August 21, 2013 at 10:38 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 6
@4 - Why are you not publishing your own newspaper with all this insight you have on things? You are depriving the world of your genius.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on August 21, 2013 at 10:41 AM · Report this
7
It's because those stupid birds waste all their money on COCAINE and MALT LIQUOR.

Posted by AlaskanbutnotSeanParnell on August 21, 2013 at 11:22 AM · Report this
jtuck88 8
^^their actual choice of drug is fermented flour. i have pics to prove it, if i could only figure out how to attach a pic to this comment
Posted by jtuck88 on August 21, 2013 at 11:34 AM · Report this
9
Of like to know how their feet are mutilated, but there is no way I am reading an article the length of "War and Peace" to find out.
Posted by jeffy on August 21, 2013 at 12:58 PM · Report this
kellyllek 10
how long before somebody blames obama?
Posted by kellyllek http://www.youtube.com/user/pike024 on August 21, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
11
Darwinian evolution? What the hell does that mean? Is there some other flavor of evolution?
Posted by ctmcmull on August 21, 2013 at 1:32 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 12
@11 - Lamarckian evolution is pretty well accepted as bullshit, but there it is.

And depending on how narrowly you want to define Darwinian evolution, the domestication and selective breeding of animals might be considered a separate flavor. That is natural selection vs. artificial selection.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on August 21, 2013 at 1:40 PM · Report this
13 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
14 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
15
Actually, a common answer is frostbite. I don't know why that didn't come up in this article.
Posted by sweet g on August 21, 2013 at 2:05 PM · Report this
Anna Anna Anna 16
Yes yes yes.
Posted by Anna Anna Anna on August 21, 2013 at 3:23 PM · Report this
17
I really liked this fucking article, it was very fucking informative. Those poor fucking bastard birds don't have any fucking piece of shit to take care of their mother-fucking problems, and this article was very eloquent in the fucking way it presented the fucking information.

Fucking thanks!
Posted by some fucking reader on August 21, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Texas10R 18
Classic Mudede; It's way too long, but at least it goes nowhere.
Posted by Texas10R on August 21, 2013 at 4:26 PM · Report this
19
Pretty great article, thank you! And here's the rest of the story: Pigeons build nests from whatever straw-like stuff they have access to and, in cities, that means string, plastic, hair, wire, etc. Then, being such devoted parents, they each spend 12 hours a day 3 weeks out of every month sitting with their toes in those tangly nests. They get their feet tangled up and it's the constriction, as described above, that wounds and maims their poor little pink feet. We rescuers call it "string foot". You can see more here- http://www.rescuereport.org/2011/07/stri… and or visit www.PigeonRescue.org
Posted by Pigeon Rescue on August 21, 2013 at 5:06 PM · Report this
20
The city I saw this most in was Amsterdam; and since the recent uptick of cycling traffic in San Diego (especially around UCSD) I've noticed a lot more unhappy-footed pigeons here too. I noticed it less in cities I've lived in where pigeons and bikes don't coincide as much (Montreal, Ottawa - which both have a lot of bike traffic, but not in areas where pigeons like to hang out).

Correlation/Causation, but my theory is bikes, and I say this as a cycling fiend.
Posted by TheLurker on August 21, 2013 at 5:11 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 21
Many birds lose feet to burns from electric shock. Those wires they roost on are very often live.
Posted by thatsnotright on August 21, 2013 at 6:13 PM · Report this
22
The "Usual Suspects" reference was a bad analogy, as well as a gratuitous spoiler. Cut that and 50% of the length, and you'd have a great article (seriously).
Posted by Stumpy on August 21, 2013 at 6:42 PM · Report this
23
#21...maybe Charles was trying to say that Keyser Soze was a superintelligent crippled pigeon.

THAT would be way cool, if you thought about it.

oh, and #8...you might want to do a site search on "Arthur Ziffarelli". That would explain what I was doing in post #7.

Seriously, though-Good piece, Charles.
Posted by AlaskanbutnotSeanParnell on August 21, 2013 at 7:07 PM · Report this
24
Great article.
Posted by Eric from Boulder on August 21, 2013 at 10:11 PM · Report this
25
til I looked at the paycheck for $8916, I didn't believe that my neighbour woz like realey taking home money in there spare time from their computer.. there mums best friend has done this for under twentey months and just repaid the morgage on their villa and got Land Rover Defender. this is where I went, www.jam30.com
Posted by ruthmoran on August 22, 2013 at 4:23 AM · Report this
26
I'm afraid the most important pigeon questions have yet to be asked:

(1) Why is it only crazy people who feed the pigeons?

(2) Why would even crazy people feed the pigeons; pigeons are food hogs and nasty to smaller birds, such as starlings, when they are in the vicinity and munching down?

(3) Why would anyone waste all that space and verbiage on a useless story about effing pigeons?
Posted by sgt_doom on August 22, 2013 at 10:12 AM · Report this
27
Someone mentioned Bumblefoot as a possible cause. Bumblefoot is definitely an issue in captive pigeons, though I rarely saw any birds come in with it as a pre-existing condition while I was working in wildlife rehab. A lot of them developed it while in long-term care, though.

If I remember correctly it typically occurs as the result of a cut or abrasion,(usually from walking on rough/sharp surfaces, or possibly from standing for too long in a way that causes the pads of the feet to wear away, and become thin enough to absorb bacteria) which then becomes infected.

Bumblefoot can do a considerable amount of damage to the foot, but I've not in my experience seen it only take out one toe. I'm sure it's more than possible though. I've definitely seen pigeons arrive with an obviously dead digit that needs to be amputated, but no signs of bumblefoot.

I don't think it would honestly be a major cause of pigeon foot deformities in specifically wild/feral birds. Yeah, they spend a lot of time on the ground walking on flat surfaces, but what you have to keep in mind is that they are walking on a variety of these flat surfaces, as well as perching in trees and on wires &c. They aren't confined to a limited environment like a captive pigeon would be, and they have the opportunity to move around from one surface to the next. And trust me, they do utilize all those lovely perching spots with their therapeutically different textures. This puts them at a significantly lower risk of developing Bumblefoot.

That's not to say they can't develop other types of infections. (For instance, Staphylococcus aureus is one of the major contributors to Bumblefoot, but there is a wide array of bacteria that can cause an infection).

Infections still happen in wild pigeons, and I'm sure they take out entire feet. But not every infection is Bumblefoot. For instance, bumblefoot has a nasty habit of spreading. It starts pretty superficial, affecting the fleshy part of the foot, but if left untreated it starts to become necrotic. From there the infection spreads to necrosis of the tendons (this is where some birds have the affected digit amputated, and from there it can spread to the bone. That's a pretty crappy place to be. It pretty much equates to amputation of the entire foot. In the final stages the infection spreads throughout the entire body, affecting the brain, lungs, &c. It really paints a grim picture for a bird that develops it in the wild. I'd say the bird is lucky to only lose a limb by the time its through with them.

Despite all that I would still bet infections come in second to stricture in urban environments where human waste is more likely to wrap itself around unsuspecting pigeon feet.

Fun fact: Bumblefoot is also prevalent in captive rodents!
More...
Posted by kontiki on August 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM · Report this
28
Oh my god this is so embarrassing. Can somebody please get this off the front page?

I wish Seattle were a real city, with actual journalists.
Posted by yeswell on August 22, 2013 at 11:16 AM · Report this
29
This a lot sounds like something I pitched...earlier this week. I guess the biology information is OK...but it isn't great. Predators do not take pigeon feet; that's one of the most absurd guesses I've ever heard, considering who it came from. Swollen, nasty feet, mostly sounds like pox to me. Missing appendages, sure possibly twine, fishing lines, maybe human hair....but not shit, not spikes to deter pigeons from roosting (which aren't some inhumane installation as the above comment suggested), probably not "pesticides."
Ever think about talking to a wildlife rehabilitator in Washington?! Or maybe an avian pathologist?!
Posted by TheNorthwestPremiereTwentySomethingNaturalist on August 22, 2013 at 11:57 AM · Report this
30
@28 NOBODY IS EVER ALLOWED TO HAVE FUN
Posted by eptified on August 22, 2013 at 2:16 PM · Report this
31 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
32
Hey! Wasn't this Brendan McGarry's idea for an article? What is up with that, Stranger? Not cool.
Posted by bird writer defense team on August 22, 2013 at 2:35 PM · Report this
33 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
34
Cause pigeons are rats with wings!
Posted by eric1972sea on August 22, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
35
I wonder if pigeon feet remind Mr. Mudede of slave ships or perhaps the subjugation of the working class by our capitalist overlords. If anyone can stuff it into "the narrative" it's Comrade Mudede.
Commander Zero
Posted by Commander Zero on August 22, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
maxk 36
I love this piece. Never stop, Charles.
Posted by maxk on August 22, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this
37
I wonder if pigeon feet remind Mr. Mudede of slave ships. If not he just ain't working hard enough. "The Narrative" must be fed. Tighten it up Comrade.
Commander Zero
Posted by Wank Tillman on August 22, 2013 at 5:10 PM · Report this
inquiastador 38
When is the article on what good eating street pigeons can be? Or, pigeon vs seagull?
Posted by inquiastador on August 22, 2013 at 7:36 PM · Report this
39
There's some creep in Seattle near downtown who hangs out and catches pigeons and ties up their feet with thread. Some students at Seattle Central reported this to the college's staff. Stop him if you see him doing this!
Posted by East Egg on August 23, 2013 at 12:27 AM · Report this
40
@26 mind-victim of Judeo-Christian belief that other animals are peons and inconsequential compared to the kingly human being.
Go Charles!
Posted by Stacey on August 23, 2013 at 12:36 AM · Report this
41
I feel deeply for all these poor, afflicted birdies as my own human feet have recently gone similarly screwy ever since I finally succumbed to that vile, torturous act of self-immobilization otherwise known as "jogging" for the first time ever in my 41 years. Turns out, I am a pretty efficient limper and a gimper who can crawl. That is -- just so long as I can maintain enough forward momentum not to collapse into a weeping, quivering heap or inadvertently head-butt the occasional passing cyclist on the trail as sundry intense pains go throbbing up through my left arch and some grotesque, invisible maniac jabs a thousand tiny little needle pricks into my bulging, increasingly disfigured right big toe. Perhaps -- the more I think about it -- mine is less an affliction than some kind of twisted, monstrous miracle. Who knew a single human being could do so much grunting and spitting. I didn't used to be a grunter or a spitter at all. But I'm definitely grunting and spitting a blue streak now.
Posted by the shirtcocker on August 23, 2013 at 5:54 AM · Report this
42
Hey Seattle, your F*cked up sister city, Spokane, just had a racial killing.

Wonder what thestranger will talk about next week...more "pigeon feet" topics?

Guess thestranger will wait and see what their marching orders are from Jesse and Al...AND Dear Leader.

If they say there's no story in this killing, well, you can take that to the bank.

Posted by osage2112 on August 23, 2013 at 8:12 AM · Report this
43
Why the hell is this on the front page?
Posted by Moira on August 23, 2013 at 9:30 AM · Report this
44
The info in your article is fine, but it doesn't get to the heart of the matter. In the 50's through 80's I never saw fucked up pigeon feet. It wasn't until they started using this netting on overhangs and awnings of buildings and areas like transit centers. There's no way to teach the birds, they figure it out by getting caught and losing toes or feet. Get rid of the netting and we can go back to having more pigeons with pretty pedis.
Posted by mary@yahoo.com on August 23, 2013 at 2:21 PM · Report this
45
WAY old stuff! In the 1980's, I visited Paris, France, a number of times and on one of the trips asked my well-connected cousine parisienne about all the pigeons staggering around the city on partial or totally missing feet stumps. She said the city had made a clumsy attempt to limit the messy bird population by scattering pigeon feed laced with avian birth control chemicals. The unexpected result was a slew of physical defects among the pigeon population....... Wait a minute, you don't think she was just messing with me, do you?!?
Posted by leProf on August 23, 2013 at 7:09 PM · Report this
yucca flower 46
If you spent your entire life wandering Seattle's streets barefoot, your feet would look f--ked up too!
Posted by yucca flower on August 23, 2013 at 8:26 PM · Report this
gttrgst 47
Same reason as most common cause of toe deformity/loss in humans; diabetes caused by stress and poor diet. Great article, although not enough cloacal coupling.
Posted by gttrgst on August 23, 2013 at 8:48 PM · Report this
48
like man's refuse slowly cuts off pigeons from themselves, so we are cut off day in and day out from ourselves
Posted by kidsmpl on August 23, 2013 at 9:31 PM · Report this
49 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
50
#39: I saw a guy do that about 6 years ago in the International District. I was like, what the fuck is this guy doing hissing and tying a fishing line around a pigeon's neck and legs?? Then he pretended to let it go or whatever and walked off. When I saw this article I wondered if anyone would comment on that.
Posted by Bobby123 on August 23, 2013 at 11:17 PM · Report this
Masi 51
Very much enjoyed this. I agree that human hair is awful.
Posted by Masi on August 24, 2013 at 1:53 PM · Report this
misssmartypants 52
In Las Vegas, this past Febuary, I came upon a pigeon with one leg. I took photos of this feathered pirate, and fed him French fries. He had a technique of holding off the others by doing this weird thing with his wings. They were outstretched and he did a little circular dance.Until I was yipped at by the Fremont Street Cleanup clowns for feeding the "vermin" I enjoyed watching this scrappy guy.
Posted by misssmartypants on August 24, 2013 at 4:20 PM · Report this
53
Is it possible that the pigeons' feet are infested with mites? I know this is something that happens with chickens' feet.
Posted by La Sirene on August 24, 2013 at 5:19 PM · Report this
54
Wait, wait--I know!!!---pigeons keep getting harassed by the SPD!!!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on August 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM · Report this
sissoucat 55
Very interesting article on the reasons of missing toes, but the illustration (although very good)is a bit misleading - I expected more information on the depicted deformed foot desease.
Posted by sissoucat on August 27, 2013 at 7:23 AM · Report this
56
just as Andrew responded I'm alarmed that anyone can make $4705 in 1 month on the computer. did you see this web link... C­­­a­­f­­e­­4­­4.ℂ­­­o­­m
Posted by Karen R. Prince on August 27, 2013 at 2:06 PM · Report this
57
@11 pokemon evolution!
Posted by Feminist_sub on September 2, 2013 at 11:58 PM · Report this
58
Doesnt explain the cancerous tumorfeet I've seen on pigeons in Fremont...
Posted by ffff on September 4, 2013 at 11:01 PM · Report this
59
Good to know about the hair adversely affecting them!
Posted by PelicanCat on November 23, 2013 at 9:22 PM · Report this

Add a comment