The full title says it all: Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails, and Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness. Author Nathaniel Johnson, assisted by his toddler daughter, shows us that their typical urban neighborhood is alive with the wonders of that “urban wilderness”. All we need to do is lift or (in the cases of ants and snails) lower our heads and look.
For those focused solely on birds, Johnson explores “bird language”, and makes the acquaintance of crows and, yes, pigeons. It seems that we rarely hear or see these species; for instance, when did you last notice a pigeon? We fail to see them not because they are absent; instead, our blindness is because they are so common that we dismiss and ignore them. How often have we said “oh, it’s just a pigeon”? But, as Johnson reminds us over and over, even the most common species can be fascinating once we start to observe them with any care.
For those willing to open their eyes to the familiar, a fun read and a fascinating glimpse into the life that surrounds us every day.