No. 21.—The Pigeon.

THE PIGEON IS a remarkably intelligent but absentminded bird whose singular dedication to the task before him tends to blind him to everything else in the world around him. In most cases the task at hand is annoying pedestrians, to which the pigeon tirelessly devotes himself.

Annoying pedestrians is just about the only thing a pigeon can remember to do without his tiny appointment book. Occasionally you will see a pigeon with what appears to be a small bit of folded paper attached to his leg. That paper is the pigeon’s appointment book, which he must consult frequently to remind him of the day’s tasks. Of course, the great majority of pigeons you see do not have their appointment books strapped to their legs: these are the pigeons who have forgotten their appointment books and must wander the city in a kind of daze, able to remember only that they were supposed to be annoying pedestrians at some point during the day.

The mating ritual of the pigeon is rather curious. On the day marked in his appointment book as mating day, the male pigeon pursues the female at a slow walking pace, the female keeping always three steps ahead of him. This pursuit continues on and off for hours or days, after which a number of eggs are produced by parthenogenesis.

There are in this great and wondrous world people called “pigeon-fanciers” who attempt to keep and even breed pigeons as domestic fowl. In 34 of the 50 states, the law considers pigeon-fancying prima facie evidence of insanity.

Allegorically, the pigeon represents the occipital lobe.