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Hate Pigeons? You Might Be A Racist.

Updated on August 4, 2015

So much hate.

We control where they live.

We force them into the dingiest parts of the city by putting spikes on the places we don’t want them to go.

We tell jokes about kicking them (And some do, in fact, kick them).

Many of us say we hate them.

What living thing could possibly deserve such abuse? Pigeons. And it’s because of the color of their feathers.

But...we love doves?

The next time you're standing on the train platform observing drunk college kids kicking pigeons (I've seen it in real life, it's horrifying), think about this.

Somewhere else, gooey-eyed brides are shelling out hundreds of dollars to release doves into the air on their wedding days.

Why? Beautiful white birds flocking to the skies. It makes for a picturesque celebration of the happiest day of their life.


The only difference is feather color.

Pigeons and doves are born from the same species.

Okay, there might be some complex biology here, but pigeons and doves are almost the exact same bird, except for their feathers.

What this means: A pigeon is a dark-colored dove.

Many of us chastise and abuse one, while we covet and adore the other. Pigeons live in harsher urban environments, while doves are so valuable they are part of an industry supporting people’s happily ever afters.

A flock of pigeons on a city street


The nuisance of pigeons is real.

Now, I want to be clear. Identifying our discrimination against pigeons doesn't mean I support all of the things every pigeon does. (I'm sure I wouldn't support all of the things a dove does, either.)

Of course we all find pigeon droppings from the heavens above to be less than enjoyable.

I'm not here to support human contact with pigeon waste and the carrying of urban disease. But then again, just because someone is opposed to the death penalty, it doesn't mean they support murder, right?


Pigeons don't get to choose their feather color.

It isn’t fair that a bird can be unlucky enough to be born a pigeon, inheriting a legacy of abuse based on feather color.

He or she faces a life of starvation, 'homelessness,' and abuse, while his or her lighter-feathered brothers and sisters are worshipped as an angels-in-flight.

Can you imagine if people were born into lives of dehumanizing treatment, simply because of the color of their…wait a minute.

A breakdown of the racial segregation in Chicago, IL.
A breakdown of the racial segregation in Chicago, IL. | Source

The bottom line.

Next time you look at a pigeon with disgust, imagine it as a dove and get curious about whether you'd have the same reaction.

If there's anything we need more of, it's love and acceptance of all species from across the spectrum(s) of color, shape, and creed.

And maybe, just maybe, recognize that “darker” species (both bird and human alike) who are born into harsher environments could use more compassion and less kicking while they're down.


Oh. And pigeon-toed? No one ever says dove-toed.


Have you ever seen someone kick a pigeon?

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    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Excellent Katie, you wrote wonderful about pigeons. I love the message that you have highlighted with view of a neglected but innocent creature. Thanks.

    • Katie Kizer profile image

      Katie Kizer 2 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      What an amazing thing to be on the board of an animal shelter foundation. Thanks for reading and for the work that you do!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Being on the board for an animal shelter foundation, I never like to hear of animal "stereotyping." It doesn't surprise me that pigeons are doves of a different color; they essentially make the same sounds, too. Thanks for speaking up on the issue!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Amazingly, those white doves have been raised as domestics. What are they going to do now that they have been released? Having done rehab work, baby pigeons are some of the sweetest, most affectionate of birds. They love to be held, and will coo louder if they don't get to go between your fingers, which simulates affection.

    • Katie Kizer profile image

      Katie Kizer 2 years ago from Chicago, Illinois


      Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm beginning to think it's Chicagolans who have a unique preoccupation with licking pigeons. It's horrifying to see.

      Nice to meet you,


    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 2 years ago from United States

      I have heard people say they hate pigeons but have never seen someone kick one other than on Seinfeld (and that was done obliquely). Your explanation makes depressing sense. An intriguing hub.

    • Glen Kizer profile image

      Glen Kizer 2 years ago

      I learned a lot about pigeons from your article. I will be more understanding of pigeons and doves in the future.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      If you want to be loved as animal, you need to be dead lion. Most are not willing to pay that price.

      Have you seen that in Zimbabwe there is push back? They say they do not weep for lions--they fear them. The only people who cry for things that could eat them are those with no fear of being eaten!

    • Katie Kizer profile image

      Katie Kizer 2 years ago from Chicago, Illinois


      I just recently learned about how darker pets get adopted last. So tragic and yet, not surprising. Thanks for reading and commenting!


    • Katie Kizer profile image

      Katie Kizer 2 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      I completely agree! and I've been that person who feeds pigeons and everyone gets mad at my because then they never leave :) I didn't know that about the lobster!

    • profile image

      Katie 2 years ago


      Interesting comparison. I agree, white dove supremacy effect is so symbolic.


    • profile image

      Nancy 2 years ago

      There was a similar article like this in the Trib about animals that are dark-colored that get adopted last, or not at all. In almost every culture, the lighter color skin is more coveted.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I think we should feed the poor and the homeless pigeons. Surely that will fix everything.

      Did you know that there was a time when only the poor ate lobster?

    • profile image

      CreoleFolks 2 years ago

      Great observations. It is the white dove supremacy effect that we all have branded into our heads from the time that we are old enough to watch American television. The happy white shows aka The Brady Bunch, compared to black sitcoms like Good Times.