Birds of a Feather

When I first snapped this group photo of a synchronized geometric pigeon formation on Arezzo’s Chiesa Saint Maria in Gradi, it was just for fun. Then I started thinking more about it.


Perhaps because I am a compulsive “life lessons” gatherer, I began to wonder the following:

1.       Who was the leader?  Which, among the dozens of birds I saw resting on the church’s pediment, was the first to land there?  Was it the leader in a flock already flying and the rest followed?  Or did the first one land solo, but look like it was having so much fun that others flying by decided to land and join in?  Why?

2.       How many did birds did it take to “trend”? Assuming that they all didn’t land there together, I wondered how many of them in twos or threes had to congregate there first – before the many more swerved over to check out the church rooftop?  What was the (thank you, Malcolm Gladwell) tipping point for this avian afternoon hangout? If you’ve ever tossed a bread crumb to a single pigeon, you know it doesn’t take long before a crowd of friends appears from almost nowhere.  But here at the church, there didn’t appear to be any food – only sun and rest.  Perhaps that was enough.

3.       How long was it before they left and how did they leave?  Okay, most likely the birds left in flight. But since I didn’t stick around until they did, I wondered how long the group decided to hang out up there and whether when one decided to depart (would it have been the same one who started the trend?), did the rest follow en masse  or only a few at a time? 

Follow the leader
Follow the leader

Sheep vs. Pigeons

Usually, it’s the sheep we get compared to when discussing how and why people seem to follow others.  But that unfortunate comparison often leads to the allusion of slaughter and I’m just talking about landing on a quiet Tuscan church that holds in store no apparent harm!  So, indulge me just a little more, if you please.

I wonder who we follow and why?   I read a lot about communications and personal brand marketing these days, to keep me current when coaching and training my clients.  I sometimes, however, get distracted by a Daily Mail type tabloid about some celebrity’s drunk driving arrest (thank you, Justin Bieber) and I waste valuable work time.

Lulu in Parco Prato's former meadow hangout
Lulu in Parco Prato’s former meadow hangout

My friend Francesco tells me that people in Arezzo used to flock (sorry!) to the meadow in Parco Prato a few years ago every summer evening– laying down blankets or sitting on the lawn.  The grown-ups would chat while they sipped aperitivi and the kids would run and chase each other and be kids.  Nobody does this anymore and there appears to be no reason as far as I can tell.  I wonder why what seems like a lovely social gathering spot fell out of practice.

Maybe I have too much time on my hands for such pigeon ponderings, but I think once the weather properly warms up, I’m going to grab some friends and picnic blankets and head over to Parco Prato and see what we can do!

Here’s to being leader pigeons! (Please do pick your preferred animal avatar of choice.)

Til next time!  What/who are you proud to follow?  Guilty of following?!

Baci, Gina

Copyright 2014 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.



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