The Guerrilla Pigeon Feeders of Paris

Parisians who illegally feed the French capital’s 80,000 pigeons are the subject of academic study.

At the beginning of November Paris hosted a symposium organized by Natureparif (the regional agency for nature and biodiversity in the Ile-de-France) and an interdisciplinary research group “pigeon in town”, directed by Anne-Caroline Prévot-Julliard, a researcher at the CNRS and the National Museum of Natural History.

One of those at the meeting, Véronique Servais, a professor of anthropology, studies the ‘feeders’, mostly older women, who look after the pigeons. She says they are regarded as ‘deviant’ and subject to abuse, even physical attacks.

“They have the feeling of being hunted. So they are more discreet, preferably out at night, in remote areas and doing the feeding quickly. But so far, they will not stop,” she says.

“Most often, they become feeders by chance, throwing a few crumbs, and then as and when they are aware of the sorry state of pigeons, they are caught in a trap: they can not disengage.”

Servais says that they regard it as a sort of “priesthood”, consuming time and money. For example, she says they find it impossible to go on holiday.

Pigeon feeding is illegal and offenders face €450 ($597) fines.

Brigitte Marquet, founder of the website ‘the Embassy of the pigeons’ says that the law has created a “civil war”:

“In Paris and elsewhere, many are quick to denounce bird conservationists to the police. The feeding should be managed by the city, it would calm things down. Instead, everything is done to encourage hatred.”

“These are perfectly normal people,” she insists.

The Paris Town Hall says:

“They mean well, but the feeders promote concentration and the overpopulation of pigeons, which causes damage to public and private property due to the accumulation of droppings.”

The authorities have put up pigeon coops across the city. The birds are encouraged to nest in them and once a week their eggs are sterilized.

However, some Parisians say these pigeon abortions are cruel.

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Picture by AnnieGreenSprings


Andrea MacDonald
Andrea MacDonald5 years ago

As a wildlife rehabilitator and as a person who used to work in New York City, It is disgusting what some people have done to these lovely birds. I have rescued many in the last ten years and they are beautiful, sweet creatures who never asked to come to North America. They mate for life, both parents care for the young and only ask to be left alone. The only reason they congregate in cities is because tall buildings resemble cliffs which is their natural habitat. I only wish the human species was more like them.

erin k.
erin k6 years ago

colleen you do know that humans pour our waste into the water right? even if pigeons did leave waste in the water, it would hardly make a difference considering millions of people's waste goes into the water. where i live the water is so polluted with human waste that fish are just floating in the water dead. so humans are allowed to dump our waste all over the place, on islands and oceans, but a little pigeon dropping in our city and we get all crazy about it?

i mean seriously, we have killed entire ecosystems and made several animals species instinct, and now we're actually going out of our way to sterilize them!? seriously!? how is peta not up in arms over this??

mari s.
Mari S6 years ago

I see no harm -- as for the droppings, you can move locations; once again, no one is getting hurt, all are happy.

Mary Emmons
Mary Emmons6 years ago

I don't discriminate. . . I feed all the birds that come in my yard!

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan6 years ago

Would the elderly ladies need to feed the pigeons if the government looked after them properly?

susan r.
susan Rudnicki6 years ago

Colleen---did you not read or digest the meaning of the post just below yours?? The point is, it is a lot more than feeding which has created what we now view as a "problem" Destruction of habitats at all points along a migrational pathway FOR SPECIES THAT MIGRATE causes disruption of that species innate instincts. We have DELIBERATELY imported some species into cities to satisfy poorly understood emotional urges of our own. I gave examples of the reasons, accidental or deliberate, of how we have created our OWN problems with invasive species, and with international boundaries now effectively non-existent due to shipping and air transport, more pests are flooding in yearly. Ask the inspectors at ports of entry about how difficult their job to try and find these pesky hitchhikers. No, it is much more than feeding that has caused and continues this invasion problem. Humans are very adept at maintaining the illusion for themselves that the law of Nature do not apply to them----arrogant hubris.

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

if you feed migratory animals, they do not migrate. why cannot people accept or recall, sometimes animals have more simple desires? show me proof there was ever a fox who fasted for spirtual growth? You go to the store and buy endless food. birds that eat seeds and insects won't have seeds and insects when seasons change. Hoofed animals will go to where there is more food. If you feed them, and they can deal with temperture changes, they won't move. why should they? You are feeding them.

and stop acting like animals cannot get you sick. or that their waste has no germs. if the birds crap in your water, you will get sick.

susan r.
susan Rudnicki6 years ago

Regarding these comments relating to over-breeding, non-natives, etc. At the root, this is a human designed problem, not one the animals invited! Starlings, house sparrows, yellow star thistle, tumbleweeds, pampas grass, long horn borer beetle, dutch elm disease, quagga mussels------the list has THOUSANDS of entrants, and ALL of them are introduced species by homo sapiens. Some were brought to appease yearnings for lost European species the humans missed from "home", others were brought in to use as biological weapons against other foreign invaders people had inadvertently introduced, others were introduced for hunting, and A LOT were just hitchhikers in commerce. Canada geese have had their migration routes and habitats destroyed, climate change is affecting the entire weather pattern imprinted in their genes (which is affecting all migrational species negatively) and stupid people continue to dump their domestic animals in the "wild" hoping to rid themselves of ill considered purchases. In that, they model the very irresponsible behavior their children will pass on to future generations. None of the animals named above would choose to come to the US---they were dragged here by humanity.

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

Laura D. those pidgons in america are nonnative. they came from europe

Sue H.
Sue H6 years ago

Well, ok. Someone needs to knock some sense into "deviant" old ladies who won't go on