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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gemmell

Do Not Feed the Pigeons

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

Pigeon feeding is now banned in many cities around the world. Officials banned this common practice in San Marco, Venice in a bid to stop the pigeons ruining their UNESCO status city. The ban has been in effect since 2008, and offending can land you with a bill of up to several hundred pounds.

The pictures you see on this page were most likely taken with my Pentax Spotmatic. I can't remember the lens and there is a mixture of transparency film stock used here I believe.

Back in the 1970s I visited Italy and there were plenty of people feeding the birds at that time. These pictures in the Piazza San Marco Venice were taken on that trip. Look at the first image. It always amuses me that the peanut vendor is engrossed in his newspaper while the pigeon appears to be stealing his products. That is what I saw when I took the photograph all those years ago.

St Mark’s, being such a huge tourist attraction, is a great place to people watch people and to take photographs as well.

Penut vendor Venice 1980

Penut vendor Venice plus pigeons 1980

Porter Venice 1980

Porter Venice 1980

Italian men Venice 1980

Tourists San Marco Venice 1980

In this next photo I can't quite work out what the tourist has on his camera. Is that some sort of stereo attachment for 3D photography?

Gondolier talking to tourist Venice 1980

Penut Vendor Venice 1980

little girl feeding pigeons Venice 1980

Japanese tourist in flooded San Marco square 1980

The following picture of the nuns was taken in another famous Italian square. St Peter’s Square, Rome.

Back in the day I had a small collection of slides with a photographic agency, This image of a group of Nuns and one other picture were used in a book titled, "Inside The Vatican" written by Joseph Coughlan. I had no idea of the background to nuns shot when I took the photograph. I was just intrigued by the animation of the lady on the left and the lighting within the scene. However Joseph wrote the following fascinating description to go with the picture ...

"Two nuns in white habits seen here work in the Vatican's own Health Service. While the confidentiality of patients is maintained here as elsewhere in the world, the third sister is no doubt anxious for news of someone dear to her. The health service, just yards away from the papal apartments and Vatican pharmacy, is managed 24 hours a day and has available the most up-to-date equipment. Vatican doctors come in from "outside" but regularly hold clinics during the week"

Nuns St Peter's Square Rome 1980

The next photo was taken in Sorrento on the same trip.

Sorrento 1980

Earlier than Venice, since the early 2000s, it has also officially been illegal to feed pigeons in Trafalgar Square, London. Feeding and photographing them had long been a tourist attraction and many famous people were photographed doing so. There used to be bird food sellers here too, encouraging people to feed the birds and have their photographs taken with them. These feed sellers could be why Trafalgar Square was so full of pigeons. According to the RSPB, pigeons can remember both faces and places. If fed they will return to the same location and look for the same people.

Here is one such photo in Trafalgar Square. I have no idea who took it, but it shows my mum and dad around 1948.

As well as all the old slides and negatives that I discovered when clearing out the loft I also discovered many family prints. This is a very small print that I have re-photographed with my phone so please forgive the quality.

Pigeons Trafalgar Square London 1948

This link has some interesting pictures of pigeons in Trafalgar Square over the years.

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