Superdove – Book Review

Superdove by Courtney Humphries

Have you ever wondered how it is that seemingly-identical pigeons have managed to spread across the entire Earth? Or, have you even wondered why all these stupid pigeons won’t just leave you alone no matter where you go? If so, you might be interested in “Superdove.”

From the subtitle, “How the Pigeon Took Manhattan…And the World,” I thought the entire thing would revolve around the reasons for the omnipresence of pigeons in cities around the world. Actually, the reasons for the prevalence of the pigeon, although a main thread, isn’t what I would consider to be the actual backbone of the book. “Superdove” is a work detailing the evolutionary and cultural history of the pigeon. “Um…fascinating…” I can hear you all saying, but it really is quite an interesting book. Humphries tells you everything that you never knew about pigeons and didn’t care enough to ask.

Perhaps the most interesting thread of the book was how pigeons went from being pinnacles of civilization and beauty to being so-called ‘rats with wings.’ In describing this transformation, Humphries detailed a number of fascinating facts about pigeons and their interactions with people. I was amazed to learn how many people still raise pigeons. I figured that perhaps there are some people out there with homing pigeons, but pigeon shows seem to have the variety of dog shows! There are also the Pigeon People in New York. Quite an interesting group. Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned, though, was that I want to eat a pigeon!

Seriously, though, this book was extremely interesting, particularly as it was on a topic that is prevalent but ignored by most city dwellers. I would recommend this book to anyone willing to look at pigeons differently – just don’t expect an extremely focused work.

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