The San Francisco de Asís Plaza, one of the most important squares in the old district of Havana, is close to the port and to a convent bearing the same name. Highly popular and emblematic due to its many centuries, it is often fondly referred to as ¨Pigeon Square¨ because of the large number of those birds circling the area.
According to the attendant of the Old Havana district’s pigeon breeding association, Liliana Minerva, the recent Buddy Bears exhibition at the plaza in no way distracted the locals and visitors from the pigeons.
“They are very faithful, affectionate, and love to perch on the very top of buildings,” said Minerva, waving a can containing peas, their favorite breakfast. “I have been looking after them for 13 years now and I have learned what they need, when their mating season is, at what point in the year they shed their feathers, and I do not go home until they are all safe in their nests.”
The rest of the day, either visitors or their keeper provide them with small rations and a vet comes every four months to give them a thorough checkup.
The Lions’ Fountain has a special place within the cobblestoned plaza, which is also a venue for recreational activities and shows. It is surrounded by colonial buildings, including a church, the convent from which it takes its name, museums, cultural centers, and hotels.
Ever since the city’s historian Eusebio Leal suggested filling the plaza with pigeons, they have been brightening the day of passersby and rejuvenating this old heritage site, transforming it into the heart of this part of Havana.
The birds entertain children and adults alike, they perch on their hands and fly around the square; something they learned from Minerva, whose call they immediately recognize.
Initially they only served ornamental purposes, but now they also receive affection from visitors who are grateful for their friendly company.Share on FB Share on TT