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Homeless Pigeon Person

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Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul's
The little old Bird Woman comes,
In her own special way to the people she calls,
"Come, buy my bags full of crumbs."
"Feed the Birds", Mary Poppins

A homeless person with a loyal animal companion. Usually a clear signifier that they're a good guy and not one of the Crazy Homeless People. Note that this refers to all kinds of animal companions among the homeless. Pigeons, for whatever reason, are the most common.

Interestingly, even though pigeons are generally considered "flying rats" by the populace at large (some cities have regulations against feeding them), most characters with pigeon friends are portrayed in a favorable light. Probably has something to do with helping the helpless.

Crazy Cat Lady is a far more negative portrayal, though cats are generally agreed to be fluffy and cute. Older Female Kindhearted Cat Lover can have a similar vibe to this pigeon trope but without the negativity of Crazy Cat Lady in terms of portrayal. Also see Crazy Homeless People.


Examples

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     Comics  

     Film  

  • That homeless pigeon-caretaker woman that Kevin McAllister befriends in Home Alone 2.
  • Mary Poppins sings a song to Jane and Michael about the Bird Woman (providing both the page quote and the image), a poor old women who sells bread crumbs to feed the pigeons with on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral. Later on in the movie, Mr Banks prohibit them from buying bird-feed from her with the tuppence he was going to have them invest at the bank. Close to the end, when Mr Banks soberly walks through London to the bank to be fired, he comes across the empty steps of the cathedral, with the heavy implication that she died, and that his children will never show kindness to her thanks to his callousness.
    "Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
    Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag!
    Feed the birds! That what she cries
    While overhead her birds fill the skies."
  • While he's not homeless, (if only because he lives in a one room shack on a roof) the lead character in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai becomes known to the bad guys as 'the ***ing bird man' cause he keeps pigeons.
  • Subversion: Franz Liebkind, the crazy ex-Nazi playwright from The Producers. Here, the pigeons prove that he is one of the Crazy Homeless People beyond a reasonable doubt. Mainly because he uses them for his crazy Nazi hijinx.

     Literature  

  • The title character from Wizard of the Pigeons, an Urban Fantasy novel by Megan Lindholm.
  • Mrs Tachyon, the time-travelling bag lady from Terry Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, has a pet cat (only the one, so she avoids being a Crazy Cat Lady through a technicality). Mrs Tachyon is a fairly benevolent, though totally incoherent, character; the cat is pure evil.
  • Old Bailey from Neverwhere.
  • The protagonist of Like Water for Chocolate, Tita, goes through this phase after her mother sends her sister Rosaura and Pedro away, a move that results in the death of Tita's nephew, whom she had been breastfeeding because Rosaura had been unable to feed him. In her grief, Tita takes to living in the dove-cote and treating the doves as children.
  • The Duck Man in Discworld appears to be an example of this trope. However, conversation will reveal that he is, or claims to be, completely unaware of the duck that gives him his name, despite the fact it's on his head.
  • Merivel in Restoration by Rose Tremain could be seen as this by the rather non-sequitur end of the story - he has lost much, but at least the King has given him some pigeons in the house he once occupied.
  • Blake Thorburn of Pact has mentioned that he fit this trope during the period in which he was homeless after running away from his Big, Screwed-Up Family, which led him to get bird tattoos and influences his general bird motif, which includes sharing the personality traits usually associated with birds, having a Familiar who takes the form of a sparrow, and bleeding feathers when cut.

     Live Action TV  

  • Claude from Heroes. He basically walks a fine line between this and Crazy Homeless Person.
  • There was a one-shot character on Cold Case who had known and mentored the victim of the week and was your typical pigeon keeper. He's like this due to depression caused by a mistake in his airplane design leading to several accidental deaths.
  • Radek Zelenka from Stargate Atlantis reveals he's a major pigeon enthusiast and used to raise racing pigeons back on Earth.

     Video Games  

     Web Comics  

     Western Animation  

  • Hey Arnold! has a "pigeon man" (pictured above) living on a rooftop, with some elaborate cages containing hundreds of pigeons. At the end of the episode, he actually flies away carried by his birds.
  • In Disney's Oliver & Company Fagin is a homeless guy in New York who lives with a pack of dogs, and eventually takes Oliver the kitten in.
  • Subverted in The Amazing World of Gumball, where a destitute old woman feeds some crows, then pounces on one to eat it.

     Real Life  

  • Truth in Television: Near the end of his life, Nikola Tesla took to moving between hotels and keeping large flocks of pigeons.
  • Mike Tyson isn't homeless or crazy (though he does have medications for anger management), but he's been involved in breeding and racing pigeons competitively for years since retiring from boxing.
  • Pigeon keeping, while traditionally a hobby of the wealthy, is also popular in inner-city areas where pigeon coops are often built at the tops of apartment buildings.


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