When Those Feral Pigeons You See in the Park Are Actually Sculptures

Posted on: September 15th, 2014 at 6:00 am by
Photo: @sassafraslowrey

Fake pigeons, Photo: @sassafraslowrey

As city denizens, we’re pretty much hard-wired to hate ferral pigeons. Perptually in the way, shitting on shoulders, and nesting in the AC units. A nuisance. Some might say they’re rats with wings and shouldn’t be encouraged (i.e. fed). But tell that to Brooklyn resident Tina Trachtenburg – also known as the “Mother Pigeon.”

The artist-activist is in love with pigeons and has hand-crafted over a hundred stuffed ones. Bolstered by this army of pseudo-taxidermied creatures, Trachtenburg organizes so-called “flashflocks” around town to celebrate the avians. Each time she organizes the fake flock, it becomes an automatic art installation.

Tina Trachtenburg

Tina Trachtenburg

Trachtenberg admittedly shakes her head at the faux pax feeding mentality by “[carrying] a lunch sack of bird seed every day to feed the pigeons as I go about my day.”

I create my pigeons primarily of acrylic felt. I like to make them resemble the pigeons I see throughout various locations in the city. They may be dark, charcoal gray, black, or light gray. My favorite is the common Blue Bar Pigeon who has a light gray to black face and two bars at the base of their wings. I use recycled clothing for body stuffing. I stuff the heads with polyester fiberfill. For the feet, I use wire that is twisted to form the foot of a pigeon, wrapped in pink, red or black yarn. I use black plastic coating to make the toenails. The eyes are glued on. The beaks are backed with interfacing.

I machine sew about 80% of the bodies, then hand sew the rest. What cannot be sewn is adhered with a fabric glue stick.

The simple truth that these feral pigeons are dumbfounded during these installations is a testament to the quality of the sculptures.

Teachtenberg’s next flashflock is in Washington Square Park on October 11, 7pm.

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