Pigeon Owners Participate in Show at Fayette Fairgrounds.
The opening line of the article begins:
Steve Stanish of Lemont Furnace says he hates when people call pigeons “rats with wings” because they are really beautiful birds with unique colors, markings and features.Now, as a one-time aviculturist, I know that pigeons are wonderful and beautiful creatures and that they are wrongly maligned with a reputation as being a pest species. However, here is an example of a lover of a misunderstood species going on to perpetuate that same misunderstanding of another species, perpetuating the same ignorant attitude that offended him in the first place.
Rats are also beautiful animals, with unique colors, markings and features. Like carrier pigeons who have performed working tasks alongside humans, rats have also trained to be productive in society, promoting human health and safety, in their case by being trained to sniff out landmines and detect tuberculosis cheaply and accurately in third world countries.
And as there are pigeon shows (I am no stranger to bird shows, having been an award-recognized exhibitor of exotic finches), there are also rat shows, where rats are also judged for their shape, fur, and color with the same critical attention to detail as other animal exhibitions, although rat shows will probably never have the same popularity because of the prevalence of air-borne rat viruses in the United States that make exhibitions a more risky proposition.
Stanish says of his pigeons:
They are very beautiful and interesting birds. They don't deserve the bad reputation they have received over the years.
I agree, but the same is true of our rat friends. They also do not deserve the bad reputation they have received. So don't be offended when someone calls a pigeon a "rat with wings" (or a rat a "pigeon with four legs"?). It truly is a compliment. Mr Stanish should not be getting angry, he should be complimented, and he should explain why the next time he hears it said. In fact, both species DO have a lot in common. Both creatures are beautiful, intelligent, worthy animals. While the phrase may have been coined in ignorance and intending insult, it nevertheless has a lot of truth to it, in a very positive complimentary way.