To Perch in Paris: Wildlife of the Concrete Jungle

To Perch in Paris: Wildlife of the Concrete Jungle (French)

By Taylor Winslow

In the city, nature is often difficult to find. One thinks of industry, of noise, of machines, and of concrete. The concrete jungle. Flora and fauna are not strongly associated with urban landscapes, but there is still a rather nuanced relationship between nature and the city, especially for those who live outside, exposed to the elements, like the homeless population.

Pigeons and the homeless make up a part of the urban atmosphere and the community, but often one tries to stifle their significance for multiple different reasons. The city of Paris makes a lot of effort to control these two groups. Large spikes inconvenience the pigeons in public places, rails on benches inconvenience the homeless who want to sleep. Pigeons and the homeless are also natural symbols of the city that can unify society around shared ideas and experiences.

The poor, the rich, the elderly, the children, everyone in Paris interacts with both pigeons and homeless people in the street. It is a unifying part of life in a bustling city. For this reason, the homeless and pigeons are the two populations perhaps the most natural in cities and the most influential to the rest of the urban experience. You have never chased a pigeon? One could say you have never experienced the true Paris.

The relationship between Parisians and these populations is a love-hate relationship. While pigeons in the city serve as a humorous reminder of the improvement of the infrastructure of Paris and the progress throughout its history, from the fear of animal-bred epidemics to chasing the dirty pigeons from the street for amusement, the homeless population of Paris is a somber reminder of the progress still necessary. They remind us of the savagery of nature that people in the city long to forget in their busy, comfortable lives. The two symbols together represent an effort to define what is natural and to control what imagery we can in a bustling world that is often overwhelming.