By Winnie Bagel
“Special” to The Dryersonian
They can be seen perched precipitously above university buildings and students, cooing in dark nooks and alcoves, flying in echelon above our heads and sometimes pancaked on Gould Street. They are the common city pigeon, columbia livia or rock pigeon, and they could presage the destruction of the university itself.
The Dryersonian has learned that this seemingly innocuous bird is multiplying on Ryerson’s campus and the university administration has no plan to defend the university’s vulnerable students and buildings.
Jason Curothers, a second-year journalism student is concerned about the now-swarming winged pests.
“I see them everywhere in the city and can’t help but wonder if I’ll get shit on,” Curothers said.
According to Bob McCormick, a biology professor at Ryerson, Curothers is right to be terrified.
“Like all birds, the rock pigeon has no sphincter, and so when it needs to go, its excreta just slides out, whether the animal is in flight or landed,” said McCormick, adding “sometimes it lands on buildings and people.”
When asked if the pigeon excrement could pose a threat to students if ingested by the glass-full or held tightly under a closed eyelid for several minutes McCormick would only joke about the potential for fatal poisoning.
“I’ve heard it’s good luck to be pooped on by a bird, and if you’re eating bird shit you’ve got bigger problems than its toxicity.”
McCormick was then heard to utter under his breath “like severe brain retardation.”
It’s not just the haphazard droppings of pigeon excreta that poses a dire threat to Rye students. The birds’ incessant pecking and scratching with their razor-sharp talons and beaks is also harmful to Ryerson’s building’s and statues.
Cindy Lu, a chemistry professor at Ryerson, was at first skeptical of the pigeons’ capacity to wreak whole-sale architectural destruction, but was forced to concede when pressed that after several thousand years Ryerson could be both eroded and entombed by non-stop pigeon depredations.
“I suppose if thousands of pigeons did nothing but shit and claw for thousands of years on the statue, Egerton Ryerson, it may damage it,” Lu said.
The administration is admitting ignorance of the airborne plague and offered only one plan of action to cope with the pigeon excreta.
“I guess we could use a hose,” said Chuck Allerton, head grounds-keeper when confronted with the evidence of what thousands of years of unchecked pigeon-wrath would do to Rye’s campus.
Nora Loreto, vice-president of the slackers’ union, has already been singled-out by the birds. The Dryersonian has learned that pigeons have already soiled her office window with toxic, burning pigeon excreta.
Loreto is unaware of her window’s feculent state and declined a full interview to The Dryersonian, but seemed disturbed by her near miss.
“It’s not nice to look out a window with shit all over it.”
The pigeons have their supporters among radical bird-watching Rye alumni.
Jack Parson is head of the Canadian Dove Association and graduated from Ryerson in 1949. He wants the university to leave the pigeons alone, no matter the cost.
“They’re nice birds, adapted to live in an urban environment. I think people are overstating the dangers they pose,” Parson said.
Throughout his interview with The Dryersonian, Parson sprinkled his conversation with slurs against other birds, twice referring to seagulls as “shit-hawks” and called any attempt to oust the pigeons “an idea from the mind of a turkey-vulture.”