Animals: Manhattan Portent?

In Manhattan last week a flock of 32 pigeons flew from their windowsill perches on the east side of lower Broadway toward St. Paul's Chapel on the west side. In mid-flight each pigeon closed its wings, dropped dead to the asphalt.

In Caesar's Rome, whose government was as corrupt as Manhattan's is now suspected of being, augurs would have found such a pigeon fall ominous, especially because death had come from the east. Haruspices might have inspected the entrails of the birds (extispicy), interpreted the portents. Prognostication would probably have involved, according to...

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