Guano Takes the Bridge, Pigeons Take the Fall

Just when you thought the profile of the lowly rock pigeon couldn't sink any further. "Experts say" that pigeon guano may have contributed to the Minnesota bridge failure. Apparently the acidic guano corroded and weakened the metal.

With this sort of evidence, can we really continue to lash out at legislators, the governor, tax laws, the war in Iraq, federal deficits, the inspectors, Republicans, distorted taxpayer priorities --or if you happen to be a Rush Limbaugh fan -- labor unions? Sure investigators are still "investigating", but maybe they should just stop that, given this finding.

The abundant city pigeon, known as the rock pigeon or Columba livia, is one of the least favored species. Indeed, humans refer to them derogatorily as "rats with wings". Therefore the promotion of pigeon to scapegoat is brilliant, so much more community oriented than finding lapses in official judgment and blaming politicians.

An exceptional choice to take the fall, this will be like water rolling off a duck's back to the pigeon. They'll just continue on with that jerky red-eyed strut for as long as they live, heads jutting left and right, back and forth, parading across dirty city sidewalks, cooing in the gutters.

The alternative culprit to the bridge disaster is politicians, who may also be oily, but they're human and weak. We shouldn't blame them because they're more susceptible than pigeons to family stressing repercussions of disaster. When civilians who have been bopped over the head with perceived negligence one too many times start to stir, watch politicians leave in droves, tails tucked between their legs. Back to their "families". Not a problem with pigeons (squab, if you prefer). Most people can't even figure out whether they actually have babies or not.

The solution is simple and scientific. Aa wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to oust the pigeons and suggests preventative actions: "netting to block holes and surfaces, spikes to keep them from landing, and sometimes poisoning, shooting or trapping the birds".

This is what's apparently called a "multi-pronged strategy" to deal with pigeons and their guano, and it's a sublime blend of sport, family fun, and civic duty. Carefully executed, it should be warmly received with rare unilateral support from the state and federal governments, taxpayers, and officials of every stripe. Environmentalists might even be on board. The squinty, awkward pigeon is certainly no round-eyed, fluffy, cute little spotted owl.

Not only could the plan save other bridges imperiled by pigeon guano, it could redeem whole cities. Scientists should think along these lines more often. It's one of those extraordinarily rare "expert" findings that's actually useful to society. Perhaps the levees in New Orleans were weakened by Pelican guano? Oh no wait, that's the state bird...

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