The very serious case of exclusion from a bird-eye view

Some fear them, some love then, while most of us simply ignore them. Whatever your attitude towards them may be, pigeons are, without doubt, the real kings of the Rynek. Indeed, with around five of these winged creatures for one human (if not more), they are by far the most visible demographics on the square.


If the Rynek appears to be a good example of inclusive space for people, the same can sadly not be said about birds. With pigeons exerting their dominance on the square, the other birds of Krakow find themselves pushed back to the outer districts, where they have to deal with the everyday struggle for food while pigeons lazily enjoy stuffing their faces on bread crumbs that tourists constantly throw them.

This is, of course, an unacceptable situation for sparrows, finchers and the like, and something should be done to include all birds, regardless of their feathers, shapes of beak, sexual preferences or religious beliefs. You may recall, for instance, the case of Jack, a brave little sparrow who was attacked and drove away from the Rynek by a gang of pigeons after attempting to pick up one or two crumbs that had fallen out of a tourist’s pretzel to feed his family.

King of the Rynek

King of the Rynek looking down on its subjects

The pigeons, when asked, express strong resistance to the influx of other birds. Indeed, pigeon society can be seen as rather homogeneous, and the diversity brought by the migrant birds is often perceived as a threat towards their lifestyle and a loss of cultural identity. The case of the city of Copenhagen, however, where pigeons cohabit rather peacefully with sparrows and seagulls is proof that pigeon identity and biodiversity are not mutually exclusive. Instead, it may appear that the perceived homogeneity of pigeon society is – not unlike in human society – nothing but a social construct.



Photos: Tony

Text: Mathieu