Every morning, at about 6:15 a.m., the neighborhood pigeons gather in the skies outside my window, sweeping through the air in ever-narrowing orbits until the sheer density of their numbers seems to pull them to the ground. It can be a formidable sight, a slate gray cyclone of hundreds of birds seeming to think with one mass mind; and the sound of their descent, the uneven beating of wings reminiscent of a ship's sail caught in a gale wind, can be a distinctive knell for the new day. For my cats, certainly, the morning ritual is an irresistible torture, one that causes paralysis and invokes a strange bleating noise evidently left over from a primordial age when birds plucked felines from the earth. But my cats aren't the only residents who find the daily convergence disturbing. There has always been talk in the neighborhood about the "plague of pigeons" -- the filth, the feathers, the droppings, and the disease -- and how to curtail its existence. People have installed screens over their light wells to prevent nesting and rows of glass shards on their window ledges to prevent roosting; property owners have attached wooden owls to their rooftops in the hope that menacing shadows might dupe our urban avifauna; some of my neighbors have even stooped to placing blame on a human scapegoat, going so far as to... More >>>