Whenever I have long hair (such as now) I take it off the brush and put it out for the birds. This is something my mother told me to do and I think her mother told her to do before that. Apparently, I’m helping mangle pigeon feet.
“There are a few diseases that damage urban pigeons’ feet… Pox is one, but pox certainly never destroys the whole foot,” Roberts says. “I would say that 99.9 percent of the pigeons with damaged feet I have seen owe the damage to the carelessness of human beings in disposing of their rubbish. It isn’t just guesswork—the cotton, hair, fishing line is still evident after toes and even feet have been lost, embedded deeply into the skin.”
Human hair, I ask? “Human hair is awful. If it tightens around a bird’s foot, it digs in deeply and it doesn’t snap. It is extremely difficult for even a rescuer to get an implement like a seam cutter under embedded hair to remove it, and soaking it doesn’t soften it.”
But how in the world does human hair end up on a pigeon’s foot, I ask? “People are actually advised to leave their hair clippings out for birds to use in nest building. Women with long hair will remove the hair from their hairbrushes and drop it out of the window for the birds (I have seen them do this), thinking it will help the birds. But the damage it does, particularly to pigeons who will turn in circles and therefore get the long hair tangled round both feet, then tightened, is just terrible.”
Although Mudede doesn’t believe it’s the cause — or much of the cause anyway– I’m willing to go with his expert. I will stop depositing my hair on the ledge of my apartment from here on out. I was always worried that they got caught up in a storm drain anyway.
Or maybe it’s time for a haircut what with it being 80 something degrees.