Pigeons of Old San Juan

Pigeon, that at once annoying and endearing vermin, is a common sight wherever you go. In San Juan’s Old Town, though, their presence is particularly hard to tune out: Pigeons are everywhere. There is even an entire park devoted to them, Parque de las Palomas, where they nest in the City Wall, lounge in trees overlooking the stunning views of the San Juan Bay, and get daily feedings from gleeful children. It’s a Pigeon Riviera:

Parque de las Palomas, old San Juan, Puerto RicoFeeding pigeons at Parque de las Palomas, San Juan, Puerto RicoBoys feeding pigeons at Parque de las Palomas, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Running through pigeons at Parque de las Palomas, San Juan, Puerto RicoWe marveled at rows of man-made holes in the old wall, perfect for nesting sites. Were these holes made especially for the birds? None I talked to knew. Fern clung to some of the bricks, providing additional shade and color.

Pigeon nests in the wall guarding old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Pigeon in his stone nest, Parque de las Palomas, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Pigeon in his stone nest

Old trees with gnarled roots flank the small park. Their branches are covered with pigeons, en masse, a more unnerving sight than I had anticipated. A wave of expectation seemed to wash over me from the birds’ beady eyes. Happily, for just $1, you can buy a proper tribute from street sellers nearby–if you dare, that is. Flocks and flocks of these birds will not be shy in claiming it.

Birds in trees, Parque de las Palomas, San Juan, Puerto Rico

White dove and pigeon in Parque de las Palomas, San Juan, Puerto RicoAs we wandered elsewhere in the city, the birds’ presence remained firm. They accompanied us to the tombs of the immaculate Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery.

Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, Puerto Rico

They peered at us from colorful store fronts.

Old San Juan store, Puerto Rico

They even stared at us from within the walls.

Pigeon graffiti - San Juan, Puerto RicoAnd they perched over us as we enjoyed San Juan’s sunsets over the Bay.

Pigeons at night, Old San Juan, Puerto RicoCat, hunting a pigeon near Parque de las Palomas, San Juan, Puerto RicoBut soon we noticed that not all was luxury and leisure in their lives. There was another presence on Old Town streets, just as watchful of these birds as they were of us: cats. We observed several hunts, all unsuccessful. The more we walked, the more aware we became of this ongoing tug of war between bird and its predator. But I shall stop here: Cats of San Juan deserve a post of their own.

Cat, unsuccessful hunter, at Parque de las Palomas, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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A valuable resource:  DiscoveringPuertoRico, a great blog on everything Puerto Rico–from popular attractions to best-kept secrets–to help you plan your perfect vacation

6 thoughts on “Pigeons of Old San Juan

  1. Pingback: Tracking Pigeons « Transplanted Tatar

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  4. Pingback: Cats of Old San Juan « Transplanted Tatar

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