A Dying Pigeon

I was out early a couple of mornings ago with my camera on my way to the 7 train through Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  At the entrance to the park, and beneath the huge overpass of the Van Wyck Expressway,  I saw a pigeon lying on the ground.  It was an odd sight for two reasons:  first, the pigeon continued to lie there as I got closer and closer to it instead of walking or flying away as I approached it; second, it was surrounded by long blades of grass that had been bunched up around it, like a nest.  When I got to it I could see that it was dying.  The bird would fail at its feeble attempts to keep its head up or its eyes open.  I assume somebody placed the grass around the bird to make it more comfortable and possibly to help keep it warm in the below freezing temperatures.  There was no way the grass would have gotten there any other way (the bird was surrounded by concrete for some distance).  For all of the pigeons in New York City it is actually unusual to see a dead one.  I was moved by this sight.   It’s typical to see a wild animal either alive or dead – not one that is passing from one plane of existence to the another.  There was something mystical about it.  There was also something wonderful about the idea of a person taking the time to go pick grass and place it around the pigeon.  I must admit that this would not have occurred to me.  New York can seem like a dehumanizing environment of concrete and steel with people bustling by without actually acknowledging one another.  This is necessitated, of course, by the sheer volume of people one passes in the course of a day.   So this display of humanity and of concern for another species effected me.  That’s what this photograph is about.

A pigeon lies dying on the sidewalk in the early morning sunlight of Winter surrounded by grass that somebody had layed around the bird to make it more comfortable. (Robert Englebright)

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