Paul the Greenwich Village Pigeon Man can be seen feeding the pigeons and squirrels in Washington Square Park most weekday afternoons. A regular fixture in the Park, Paul sits west of the fountain on a bench regularly reserved for him. Often, the children in the neighborhood will wait for him, or gather around him. While some people steer clear of him, others surround him and listen to him talk to the pigeons. “They are trustworthy,” he says. “ I would rather talk to the pigeons and squirrels than the people.”
“Pigeons have a bad rap,” he tells those who ask. “They are clean and carry fewer diseases than humans* In Japan,” he notes, “women use dried pigeon poop as a skin cream.**
Paul, who lives in the neighborhood, started hanging around the park in the afternoons after losing his business, he told me. “No one wanted to talk to me, even my landlord. But the birds and squirrels did.” He has special pigeons whom he names and who wait for him to come with seed.
His landlord wants to kick him out, he relayed to me as we talked. “I feed the birds on my windowsill. My landlord does not like them and is trying to get rid of me. My apartment is rent controlled …” he stared off as we sat in the park on a cool October afternoon.
“Watch the squirrels. Watch them eat. They are the only animals that pray as they eat,” he suggests as he mimics a squirrel nibbling food grasped in his claws. Paul’s hands form a traditional prayer form as he explains his love for the animals. “They do not judge. They want to be fed and loved,” he explains.
*[The NYC Health department reports 3 fungal diseases that have been attributed to pigeon poop] ”
**[Called Geisha Facial Cream, research suggests nightingale poop is dried and mixed with rice bran to create facial cream.]
Read more about the Greenwich Village in our Greenwich Village Neighborhood guide.