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Lucky Pigeons of Istanbul

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Different Ways of Approaching Problems, or the Lucky Pigeons of Istanbul

Rather than engaging in an endless and futile war, Istanbul has befriended its pigeon residents and transformed them from nuisance to park side attraction.

Yes, rather than destroying the bobbling fowl with poison, blenders, baseball bats, or even hiring bums with slingshots in ongoing missions of eradication, the people of Istanbul must have figured that these perpetually pooping urbanites are here to stay.

So they feed them.

Yes, rather than engaging in ridiculous missions to neuter the boy pigeon’s little pigeon nuts to control the population they sit back and have fun throwing bird feed to them. The little Turkish kids enjoy feeding the pigeons, the big Turkish adults enjoy feeding the pigeons, too. Throw in a tourist or two and you have an outright pigeon feeding melee.

The older folk of the city also realized that they could make a little business off of selling pigeon feed to all of the pigeon feeders, and sit in the park all day just watching the world pass by. When I get old and crumbly, I can think of no better profession than to be a pigeon feed vendor in the parks of Istanbul.

In Istanbul, the pigeon nuisance has been transformed into an entertaining micro business. The pigeons do not seem to mind the exploitation.

I have been in many cities where the pigeon hoards are viewed as the enemies of civilization, the product of nature trying to masquerade the traits of humans by adapting to the urban environment (and, likewise, pooping all over it). In Venice, it is illegal to feed the pigeons; in Budapest, they slaughter them; in America, they trap pigeons in cages and take them out to the countryside and let them go, just to shot them out of the sky for sport. I suppose most people do not like being pooped on to the extent that they will put spikes on the eaves of their buildings, and do everything possible to eradicate the pigeon. But there are still pigeons in these places. There always will be pigeons.

You may as well just have fun feeding them.

Rather than struggling against a particular ailment, you can always just embrace it, feed it, add have fun with it.

Some societies ignore problems and pretend they do not exist. It works to a certain extent. If you anger or embarrass someone from Japan they may not punch you in the face, rather, they may just never look at you again. In essence, they can kill you softly through ignoring you.

Most societies fight problems just to watch them grow. The USA’s drug war just lead to more drugs. Celibate priest sometimes molest little boys. Oppression is often the idea fodder for rapid proliferation. Eradicate something and watch it grow.

Many societies fight the pigeons, whereas India has made them sacred and Turkey turned them into a micro-business and form of mild entertainment.

Isolate your weakness and turn them into strengths.


Old woman selling pigeon feed in Istanbul


Pigeons in park with feed vendor


Istanbul pigeons

Budapest Skid Row Pigeon Hunting

Istanbul pigeon market
Some odd scientific article about pigeons in Istanbul

Different Ways of Approaching Problems, or the Lucky Pigeons of Istanbul

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Filed under: Animals, Middle East, Turkey

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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