I was on my way to Oxford and on the tube to Paddington. It was one of those wonderful days when seats were plenty. I was at Baker Street and a movement a little farther down the carriage caught my eye. It was a cooing pigeon, quite busy pecking away. Quite at home, quite free of guilt as it rode the tube without paying the proper fare.
At first I was worried it would be startled and fly up hurting himself on the windows. But he was calm. He didn’t pay attention to any of us until we stopped at Paddington and to my delight and worry, he walked along with us as the door opened. I feared he would be trampled on, or worse fall between the gap…but hopping down, my little grey travelling companion avoided the gap like a pro! I wanted to stay and watch where he was going, but sometimes you have to mind your own business and get on with things. My train to Oxford had no intentions of waiting for me whilst I watched a pigeon toddle about. I wish I had my camera ready, maybe next time.
I wondered if this fare-dodger was the one-off, but a quick google search found a few YouTube Videos, and a few other mentions of this feathered travelling habit including in 1995, a brief article querying if pigeons were using this mode of transportation to save on flight wing time to cover distances in London. I doubt that. People spill food on the tube and for a pigeon..well…that’s a little feast of sorts. No cats about, just human feet to avoid, and they are quite good at slipping around our feet without being trod on. So when they say pigeons are at home in London, no one is exaggerating, they know the best tube routes and apparently dodge fares without the slightest hint of guilt!
For more reading on this little fare-dodger–here’s an blog post from Letter From Britain on this interesting London Habit.
- The Pigeons Who Take The London Tube. (letterfrombritain.com)