Anna Letson

Ryan Mikel, Entertainment Editor

“It takes years of practice…and trust! I mean, I know their mothers and fathers,” Paul the Pigeon Man said in regards to the scores of birds surrounding him, Saturday afternoon.

Paul, who is officially known as Birdman, has been a Greenwich Village local for almost 50 years and a Washington Square Park favorite for 16. The park and the birds are first and foremost in Birdman’s life, with Paul having spent  the last two decades fighting for street performers’ rights at Community Board meetings and eliminating the stigma around these so-called “rats with wings.”

“The birds don’t have diseases,” Birdman said. “They are actually one of the smartest animals around. Pigeons received medals of honor in World War II, but now, since we have cellphones, we don’t need them anymore.”

Birdman can be found daily near Washington Square Park West, in conversation with locals and students, where he commonly lets visitors sit with him and share his unique relationship with the birds — but bring your own seeds!

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 11 print edition. Email Ryan Mikel at [email protected].