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By Fiona MacGregor
Why do pigeons think they’re better than us? They have nests, feathers, and droppings. We have satellites, nuclear submarines, and Sherlock. In every conceivable sense, a human is better than a pigeon. Now, I confess I’m hardly the manifestation of physical perfection – indeed, I often get out of breath brushing my teeth – but I reckon I could best even the most athletic pigeon in any challenge. Intelligence, strength, endurance… we are superior. So why is it that, whenever you walk down a street, there’s always some smug ball of feathery pretentiousness glaring at you with an air of natural superiority?
They seem to delight in terrorising humanity. They strut in front of advancing people, only to fly away at the last possible second, screeching in glee at their own brilliance. Great swarms of them group on buildings, heckling passers-by, glorying in their pathetic pigeon-banter, before descending like feathered Stuka dive-bombers to rain excrement on their unfortunate victims. These flying rats are the avian equivalent of a bunch of yobs crouching on the roof of a bus-stop and yelling “Tosser!” at old ladies.
But do not be fooled into thinking that these jumped-up, anti-social sky-louts are a harmless nuisance. Because, beneath the plump exteriors, pigeons are merciless killers. I can name literally two examples of slaughter inflicted by genocidal pigeons. In 2007, Craig Taylor was crushed to death by an awning which collapsed under the weight of pigeon faeces, whilst 35 people died when kamikaze pigeons brought down an airliner in 1988. Combine that with the deadly diseases spread by pigeon droppings, which may or may not include the bubonic plague, typhoid, leprosy and AIDs, and we have a creature, on balance, more dangerous than telling a Scotsman you like his dress.
More worrying still is the close relationship pigeons have traditionally enjoyed with the military. Who knows what nefarious experiments pigeons have undergone in top-secret army laboratories? We’ve all seen X-Men, but what about an X-Pigeon? Super strength, no fear, massive size; a creature genetically-engineered to seek out the Taliban and steal their pack lunches. What if one of these monsters escaped? I have an eye-witness report of a pigeon “the size of a swan” roaming Oxford at night.
So, remember, next time you see a pigeon, don’t sink to its level. You’re better than it. Just take the moral high ground and walk away. Unless it’s a muscle-bound super-pigeon, in which case you’d better run. Fast.