The Pigeon Wars of Brooklyn

September 20th, 2010 by Jonathan Vit

With a piercing whistle Michael Alicea sends his flock airborne, filling the air above his Bushwick roof with hundreds of flapping pigeons. The birds fly in unison, cutting a wide arc through the sky as they circle above Alicea’s two large pigeon coops. It’s a hot Sunday morning and in the distance other pigeon keepers have let their birds take flight. Way out, over the Williamsburg skyline, a flock of pigeons are circling another roof. With the sunlight glimmering off their feathers, the pigeons look like silver darts as they swoop and twist through the air.

Alicea hopes some of those pigeons will drift away from their coops and fly over his roof. He has his birds ready. They’ll surround the lost pigeon, closing ranks and confusing the bird until it thinks it’s one of the flock. Alicea will then call his pigeons down to the roof and grab the rival bird, locking it in his coop. The bird’s ankle band — every pigeon keeper has their own color — will be hung alongside dozens of others strung up like tiny plastic trophies on a pigeon coop wall.

Welcome to the world of tiplets, homers and pigeon mumblers. Welcome to the Brooklyn pigeon wars.

The Pigeon Wars of Brooklyn from Jonathan Vit on Vimeo.

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