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Remember the pigeon lady in Home Alone 2? The movie at first depicts her as this scary lady (almost witch-like) that attracts hundreds of pigeons to her. We later find out that she’s a nice lady who’s life had fallen apart and who is homeless. She feeds and cares for the pigeons in the park in a way to help deal with her life situation.

I think many of us can agree that taking care of pigeons is a very loving activity – the friendship and affection received from the pigeons that choose to befriend you is a huge blessing. It is addictive. Pigeons are soft and plump – great for cuddling! They have a wonderful voice – cooing in all tones and tunes – and they come in such pretty colours and patterns. Having twenty odd pigeons at your feet and on your lap and shoulders, eating seed, is a lovely experience. Once they trust you and choose to become your friend, they’ll recognise you from afar and welcome you home for a treat!

And this is why so many men and women around the world take the time to feed feral pigeons. They have discovered this simple pleasure. They have recognised the loyalty and friendship that pigeons can have for a human being – all because they have extended a helping hand in giving them some food. Many of these pigeon feeders get into trouble because of the laws of the city/town that prohibits the feeding of pigeons. Many get hassle from other people who call the pigeons “dirty”, “disgusting” and “diseased” and demand that the person stop feeding them. But none of this will stop a pigeon feeder because they love their pigeons and realise what a rotten deal pigeons get from the public and officials who hate or dislike them.

People like to call these pigeon men and woman “crazy” – but why? Just because they feed pigeons? Because they love pigeons? Insane.

I remember when I first saw the pigeon lady in Home Alone 2 when I was a child. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, all those pigeons around her! I wanted to experience that! I remember running to the local park with bread in my hand, trying to attract the pigeons to me. Sadly, none flew onto me but I did get a good group of pigeons, ducks and some gulls around me – eagerly gobbling up the meager bread I provided.

Anyway, back to pigeon people: Many months ago I read a few articles and saw some photos of two pigeon men that stuck in my mind.

The first is about Pierre Pradeau, a retired man, who fed the pigeons at Notre Dame. He sadly passed away on the 13th December in 2009. Many people have photographed him and his pigeons and here are some of those wonderful photos: Pigeon Man of Notre Dame and L’homme aux pigeons.

Another man, less photographed, is Joseph Zeman, who sadly died on the 18th December in 2007. He was a known figure in Chicago – called “the pigeon man of Lincoln Square” – who quietly went about his business of feeding the pigeons. Here are some articles about him:

Reflections of an accidental pigeon fancier on the death of `Pigeon Man’

Joseph Zeman killed by negligent driver

Goodbye, Pigeon Man

Sad news today: Joseph Zeman, the “pigeon man of Lincoln Square,” was killed yesterday when he was struck by a car on the Far North Side. The driver was a 68-year-old who didn’t see Zeman as he made a right leaving a parking lot.

The 77-year-old was easy to spot at the corner of Lawrence and Western, where he would sit for hours on a fire hydrant, feeding a large group of pigeons that would crowd around him and perch all over his body. Zeman was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston at 3:21 p.m, and he was found with a laminated copy of the article the Trib did on him in 2004.

An epileptic who was treated poorly as a child by his family, Zeman learned early on “not to say nothing, keep to myself, just so I can’t be wrong anymore.” He first formed a relationship with the pigeons during the 47 years he ran a newsstand at the corner of LaSalle and Division. He would feed them, and over time, the pigeons came to trust him. He moved up to the hydrant in 1997 when he sold the newsstand.

However you feel about pigeons, it’s hard not to be moved by Zeman’s philosophy, which he shared in his Trib profile: “I’m really advertising to the public how easy it is to be good without an attitude; it’s just as easy to show decency as it is to hate today.”

“Pigeon Man” via jdlinkvision.

By Jocelyn Geboy in on December 19, 2007 3:16 PM


It seems that in every country, in every city, there is a pigeon man. I don’t understand why people call these men ‘crazy’ – they are just regular people (possibly lonely souls) seeking out the company of loyal, friendly pigeons.

Here are a few of them: