Whitey raises and flies pigeons from a rooftop in Bushwick, New York. He was born in Greenpoint and lived in Bushwick during the fire wars, planned shrinkage, and the red-lining of the neighborhood, a time when Bushwick and Harlem resembled war zones. At that time there were at least fifty rooftops boasting pigeon coops of both flying and racing pigeons where he lived. Whitey started caring for pigeons at the age of fourteen. He learned from neighborhood men, some who trained carrier pigeons in World War II. They would give him food and pigeons in exchange for his work. He began with a small coop on a fire escape and worked his way up to a rooftop where he still flies pigeons today.
When pigeon fliers "catch" another person's pigeon, they remove the pigeon's identifying tag band and replace it with another to assert ownership. They decorate the outside of the coop with strings of these bands as trophies.
"Some people keep their birds hungry to that they stay close to the rooftops, I call them bird collectors. Bird fliers let the pigeons go as high as they want." -Whitey
photos by Shanna Maurizi