Columba livia

The hallmark of the new geological era of the Anthropocene is the visibility of the human impact on the climate, the environment, and every living thing on Earth. The hierarchical view of nature that has pervaded scientific inquiry since the age of Aristotle has allowed humans to tell a story in which domination of the planet and all forms of life is the standard of achievement. This story can be seen in the evolution of the ancient rock dove into the oft-reviled city pigeon. From Noah’s dove to today’s racing birds, we have used pigeons for everything from recreation to communication to sustenance. But when and why did we cease to worship the bird for its incredible skills and begin to consider it a lowly pest? 

Through an ethnography of human/pigeon culture conducted in Boston, Providence, and New York, I documented the past and current narratives of the ubiquitous bird, which allowed me to muse on the story of its future. How will climate change, pollution, and human overpopulation continue to influence the evolution of this once beloved bird and our perception of it? And how can we reimagine the future to include space for the resiliency of all creatures?