The appropriately named founder of Pigeon Day, Anna Dove, said the holiday aims to inform the public about the much-maligned scavenger bird.
"There are a lot of misconceptions about pigeons, and we want to educate people," Dove said. "They're getting a lot of negative publicity against them, and it's unjustified."
"I just want to set the record straight today: Pigeons are protected by New York State law," said Barrett, a lawyer.
Dove founded the New York Bird Club in 2002 for lovers of winged things - and her passion runs so deep that she legally changed her surname to Dove to honor her fine-feathered friends.
Bird was the word during Pigeon Day, which featured a speech on the history of the carrier pigeons and a live rendition of the National Pigeon Day anthem. The tune was inspired by the legendary carrier pigeon Cher Ami, which delivered messages to save lives during World War I.
But Dove thinks people nowadays perceive of pigeons as closer to flying rats than heroes.
"Rats and rodents, they're on the ground. But pigeons fly, so I don't see the connection," she said. "Pigeons have wings like angels. Maybe we should associate them with that."
Rock Dove (pigeon) photo: presidentavenue.com