October 6: If feeding pigeons is your hobby, then the place to go is London’s Trafalgar Square. With about 40,000 pigeon tummies to fill, you can be sure that demand will never outstrip supply.

Trafalgar Square’s pigeons are a major tourist attraction. Thousands of pigeons can be found in the square at any given time, which has a fountain and the monument of famous English general Lord Nelson at the centre. Some tourists and residents visit the square only to feed the birds.

Keeping the birds happy, however, is proving costly for the city-authorities, reports ‘The Indian Express’. The problem lies in the fact that pigeons, like rabbits, breed a lot. In just five years, the pigeon population in London has more than doubled, from 15,000 to up to 40,000 birds.

Birds!!! [Illustration by Anup Singh]
Birds!!! [Illustration by Anup Singh]

While bird feed manufacturers may be singing like larks, it’s the authorities that are left with the by-product, or should one say, waste matter! So, whether it is on the square, on Nelson’s famous naval hat, or in the fountain, the pigeons are polluting the square like never before – with the waste they leave behind.

Every year, city-workers are forced to clean up nearly a tonne of pigeon waste from Nelson’s Column. It’s not merely time-consuming; it is also a very expensive operation.

Now the city-authorities have decided to enlist the help of Bernard Rayner. Rayner sells bird-food or bird seed in Trafalgar Square. He is the only remaining seller of bird-food here. This means that all the pigeon lovers who come to feed the birds in the square, buy the bird-food from him.

So Rayner has been given a job. He’s been asked to lace the bird food he sells with contraceptives, which are special medicines that prevent pregnancy. That way the birds will breed less and therefore there will be fewer birds in the days to come. Fewer birds will eat less food and, if all goes as planned, less waste should land on Nelson’s heroic shoulders. Do we see the general smile at that?

Or, is it time for the people who support campaigns against cruelty to animals, to object against this treatment of pigeons?

365 words | 3 minutes
Readability: Grade 6 (11-12 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: world news
Tags: #birds, #waste, #london, #pigeons, #square

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