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Speaking pigeon

Keeping up with New York City's feathered underdogs

May 21, 2012
[Image Credit: <a href="http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-1600153/stock-photo-urban-pigeon">BigStockPhoto.com</a>]
[Image Credit: BigStockPhoto.com]

Many bird-lovers watched rapt in early April as the most famous of New York City’s residential birds hatched two chicks on a live webcam. The proud parents are Washington Square Park hawks Bobby and Rosie, and over the next few months Bobby and Rosie will strengthen their chicks by feeding them fresh meat: rodents, songbirds, and their favorite — pigeons.

But what about those pigeons? Are they really the poster birds of urban filth and disease that New Yorkers make them out to be? Maybe all they need is better PR. Kelly Slivka talks with a couple of people who see past the birds’ reputation and figures out what makes Columba livia more than a pest.

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About the Author

Kelly Slivka finished up her B.A. in English and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, after which she traded amber waves of grain for actual waves of water. The past three years, she’s been stalking endangered whales on the East Coast for various conservation and research institutions, a profession that has given her plenty of fodder for fascinating science writing, but no feasible outlet. Now, through NYU’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program she’s moved on to stalking all things new and cool in science and sharing it with, well, everyone! You can learn more about Kelly on her website, www.kellyslivka.com, and follow her on Twitter @k_sliv.

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