The covered walkways outside Union Station in Washington, DC, are home to a pretty sizable group of pigeons in the winter. On the coldest mornings, they fill every available perch underneath the high stone archways, covering the cement floor with evidence of their squatter status and making at least one former Washingtonian perpetually fearful of getting splattered on her daily walk to work. The “pigeon mafia,” my husband and I always called them. There they are, looking down at us with those beady, red eyes.
A blessedly pigeon-free walk through Union Station one day in December
In Switzerland, as stereotypes might suggest, the pigeons look a little cleaner, but they’re still everywhere – out near the lake, boldly walking beside pedestrians on the sidewalks, searching for food at outdoor cafes, and, it turns out, in the courtyard of our new apartment building. Either they broke through the net designed to protect the courtyard from pigeons taking up residence, or the net ripped another way and the pigeons swooped in, making homes on the empty window ledges.
Protective net compromised! View from the top of the stairwell.
We’d be convinced the pigeon mafia followed us here if not for one thing: The very, um, interesting sound they make. I’ve heard pigeons coo before, but this is something special, to the extent that I thought we had some very strange and very sexual neighbors until I realized the sounds were coming from outside. Luckily, we have the attic apartment so we don’t have any ledges for the pigeons to make homes on, but we still have the pleasure of hearing their impressively powerful calls reverberate through our window every morning.
We reported the issue to our regie (the agency that handles the apartment we’re renting) and they say the net will be repaired, so fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later. Until then, I’ll be missing the quieter, albeit dirtier pigeon mafia back in DC. Union Station pedestrians: You’ve got it easy.
I see you, pigeon!