Every time I went to the main market square in Krakow there were pigeons. Not just a couple of pigeons, but thousands of them and that’s no exaggeration. Krakow seemed to be the pigeon capital of the world. I think it’s fair to say that the reason for this is that everybody feeds them. It doesn’t matter the time of day – there’s always a kid throwing out little scraps of bread, or old ladies with bags of seeds and crumbs tossing them onto the stones at their feet. The pigeons swarm in from God only knows where, and its on for young and old.
They were definitely the fattest pigeons I’ve ever seen. They appear to have a pretty easy life – it’s not like they need to put a whole lot of effort into finding food each day. All they need to do is make the short flight to the square, wander about and harass the people eating their lunch – if they’ve arrived during the five-minute interval when all the purposeful pigeon-feeders are taking a break.
I was surprised how much joy I took in watching flocks of pigeons fight over breadcrumbs, while smaller birds would swoop in and steal the juiciest morsels, flying away quickly with a couple of angry pigeons on their tail. The fat shiny males would prance about looking totally stupid with their wings stuck back, trying to catch the attention of the smaller lady-pigeons, who would step out of the way disdainfully. The males would march in circles making their funny mating calls, while the females did their best to avoid them.
I found it funny that there’s actually a fine for kicking pigeons in Krakow – 100zl. Not much, about $35 or so – but it shows that a lot of the locals are tired of being harassed by a bunch of spoiled, overweight birds. [I don’t find it funny that people like to kick them, although if they weren’t so fat they might be better able to duck out of the way.]