Passenger Pigeons by Allan Brooks, Canadian 1869-1945
Feral pigeons have also been used during wartime. In the first and second World Wars, messenger pigeons saved hundreds of lives by carrying intelligence bulletins over enemy lines. They carried vital information and some were decorated just like valiant soldiers. A pigeon named "Cher Ami" received the Croix de Guerre. Below is a picture from the National Archives showing Men of the 21st Signal Loft releasing pigeons in March 1943.
In Venice I took pictures of pigeons, of course. If not pigeons, then I would have had to take pictures of tourists, since there are even more of them...
People have always liked to feed pigeons as can be seen in the two vintage postcards below - one in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the other in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In Venice, in the olden days, postcards showing pigeons were sold
and local artists used them in their paintings, such as Antonio Ermolao Paoletti (1834-1912.) As shown in the collage below he often used the same background and changed the models.
More recently Berlin-based Swiss artist Julian Charriere and German artist Julius von Bismark captured, airbrushed and released painted pigeons in St. Mark's Square for their project during the Venice Architecture Biennale. Charriere told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra "Pigeons make up part of our urban landscape, but we view them as though they are an unrecognizable mass, whereas each one has its own identity." Below are some of their special pigeons. (I do not like the idea of painted pigeons - it's not good for the birds and they stand out for predators.)
"Pigeon Safari" by Julian Charriere and Julius von Bismark (Courtesy the artists.)
I thought that writing a post about Venice pigeons would be short and take just a page or less... was I wrong. As usual I had to find our more about pigeons in general, and there is so much to learn about them. Pigeons have been part of the San Marco picture for so long that it is hard to ignore them.
Piazza San Marco painted by Romolo Tessari, Italian 1868-1925
I'll finish with this sweet series of circa 1905 postcards of Venice pigeons - the last postcard shows kissing pigeons saying "ciao."