Duke Riley has created an 'art project' in New York City that involves attaching LED lights to the legs of 2,000 pigeons to make them visible at night. While it may seem like a good idea at first, if you have any knowledge of pigeons, you understand how much stress this act causes the animals, and even runs the risk of death.
Pigeons are virtually blind in the dark, so they don't fly at all after the sun has set. Because of their poor night vision, any bright lights (like the LEDs attached to their own and other pigeons’ legs) are particularly problematic as they can temporarily blind the pigeon (think of that one neighbor with the flood light on their garage). They can very easily injure themselves and other birds. The only thing they want to do at night is GO HOME.
When you watch the video, you can see by the way they are flying, that’s all they are trying to do – they desperately want to get back into their coop where it’s safe. You can see the people on the coop waiving big poles with flags and blowing loud whistles to terrify the pigeons and force them to stay away from what they see as the only safe place. They are also being forced over open water so even a minor mistake could cause a bird to drown. Most are NOT flying in formation. Most are stressfully flapping their wings, just trying to get home. It’s heartbreaking to watch if you have spent any time with pigeons.
All of these factors put over 2000 wild birds in grave danger. How can Duke Riley and Creative Time claim to care about animals while ignoring what is best for these pigeons?
There was no consideration for their welfare when this "art" was thought up because whatever "animal welfare" precautions they claim to use, birds should not be forced to fly in the dusk or dark when they normally sleep with lights attached to them. Duke Riley has been in trouble for multiple other illegal acts he's committed in NYC and should not be praised for this abuse. A former project he did involved forcing pigeons to fly with cigars and cameras strapped to them from Cuba to Key West.
Aside from the obvious disorientation and suffering this would cause the birds, he admits many didn't survive the trip. The birds in "Fly by Night" are unwilling participants, this is inhumane and a poor excuse for "art". "Fly by Night" should be shut down.