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New American Songbook

New American Songbook: Pigeon



There are cloth mesh barriers lining the steel girders underneath the railroad bridge in downtown Wichita. The bridge, nicknamed the ‘pigeon bridge’, was a home to a roost of the birds--a few weeks before the mesh went up, live traps were placed, pocketed between beams, and the birds’ numbers dwindled.

That the pigeon has a pedigree more noble than its circumstances is a fact often overlooked in discussions that center on what to do about the bird. The species is amazingly versatile, and even as a metaphor, the pigeon is a capable ally. The pigeon is the bird of the working poor, as described by Vast Aire in this song by Cannibal Ox, called ‘Pigeon’:

It’s difficult to avoid comparison between the eviction of the pigeons from the Douglas Street bridge, and the renovation of Naftzger Park just across the street, which has resulted in the eviction of the unhoused or working poor that visited the park. It’s unclear where the remaining pigeons will relocate now that their flock has been captured and their bridge has been made inhospitable, just as it’s unclear where those that frequented Naftzger will go once the shade is finally removed from the park. Nor is it apparent that either of these efforts will totally succeed. What is apparent is that progress, as usual, will continue apace, presumably benefitting whoever happens to come along, now that the once-residents have been migrated elsewhere.