WNYC ran a piece the other day about a revival in the lost art of pigeon culture, and since it would seem contrived to drop an easy “I coulda been a contendah” reference, I will say this: For all the fuss we make over pigeons, that they’re dirty, that they poop everywhere, and that they’re rats with wings, pigeon fanciers conversely dote upon these docile, pleasant creatures, provide them with a shelter — so this and this (oy, and this) don’t end up happening — and supply them with food and medicine… at no extra cost to taxpayers.
The story cites development and gentrification as the catalysts behind the 50-year decline in pigeon homing on the city’s rooftop coops, but with a renewal in interest in this nearly forgotten hobby, which dates back more than 3,000 years, old-time pigeon fanciers — many of whom live in Southern Brooklyn — and the enjoyment they get out of what has become more of a way of life for them rather than a hobby are gaining a new breed of followers.
William Corsello, an octogenarian pigeon fancier whose father had pigeons during the Great Depression, keeps about 70 birds in his Brighton Beach loft, according to WNYC. He shrugged his hobby off as “a cheap way to pass time,” lamenting that “Today the youth are interested in other things, not pigeons. It’s something to do. I’m 84 years old and it keeps me alive.”
Similarly, big-hearted Brooklynite Anthony Martire has been tending to a coop on top of his Coney Island auto radiator shop, which his dad first started cultivating more than 64 years ago in 1947. Martire also runs the adjacent Neptune Pet Supply, where old-timer pigeon hobbyists like to fraternize on the weekends.
Fifty-two-year-old Pakistani immigrant and Midwood resident Mohammad Asif, who so missed his pigeons back home after he came to America, requested that his brother in Pakistan send him 12 pairs of Pakistani tipplers from the family coop.
“The birds are like my kids. I love them,” he said.