Pigeons are nature’s ambassadors to many young New Yorkers. Kids may grow up singing about Old McDonald, imitating farm animals, and reciting their “this little piggy”s, but those animals aren’t city dwellers. What parent hasn’t gotten a whine-free afternoon thanks to some birds and a few crackers? Nonetheless, pigeons have enemies: landlords, the bird-poop-phobic, and Woody Allen, who dubbed them rats with wings. But on June 13, bird lovers will spring to the underdog’s defense by hosting National Pigeon Day in Central Park. “We’re trying to promote a positive image,” says New York Bird Club founder Anna Dove via telephone, rescued canaries tweeting in the background. “There’s such negativity for no reason. They’re harmless, defenseless. They can’t attack; their beak is very soft.” Other members of the crusade against “anti-pigeonism” include Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns and Valerie Sicignano of In Defense of Animals. The day is equal parts class and party: Kids will learn cool pigeon facts (e.g., how the birds acted as wartime carriers and how they’re smart enough to recognize alphabet letters) as they nibble on pigeon-shape cookies, view pigeon-inspired children’s art, and take part in a candlelight prayer service. (Dove worries there might not even be urban pigeons in five years.) Meanwhile, she urges all New York families to “carry a bit of bread crumbs in your bag, a few seeds to show kindness and respect. The pigeon isn’t a threat or an enemy. It goes along with quality of life to show kindness and compassion to all living things.” That’s a lovely lesson for the children.