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A “Tail” of Two Pigeons…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 1:36 am
When there were three; having a snack in our driveway

This is one of the stranger blog entries I’ve ever written, because it is the story of how three pigeons (now down to two) adopted the cul-de-sac where I live, and for a time the front of my house, as their home.

One day, while minding our own business, there suddenly appeared three pigeons in our driveway. They strutted around as if they owned the place, and while skittish if we got too close, they clearly weren’t terribly afraid of humans. My daughter, softie that she is, went into the house, got some bird seed, and sprinkled it around.

By the next day, she was looking like a farmer woman with chickens - every time she’d leave the house, the pigeons would swarm around her, making small cooing noises until she fed them. It was a little strange…she had suddenly acquired three new pets. Scratch that…we acquired new pets. As you can see in the video below, Mrs. Charlie was drafted into serving meals to the little guys as well!

This wasn’t a real issue until they decided to make a brick ledge by my front door into a roosting place. Understand, I was becoming attracted to the silly things too (more on why in a minute), but my idea of a good time was not having pigeon droppings on my front porch, so I temporarily placed some wood and cardboard to make a slope at that ledge, discouraging them from making that their overnight spot.

Still, the little guys continued making the circle their home…during the day, we got into the habit of looking around to see where they were sitting…on a neighbor’s roof, another neighbor’s chimney, sometimes walking around in someone’s driveway looking for seeds to nibble.

But the weird thing about them is how they love to fly…and backflip in mid-air. The three of them would alight into the sky whenever anyone was in sight, and proceed to soar into the air in a great arc around the cul-de-sac, going so far as the major street well behind my house, and then…tumbling from the sky in a series of aerobatics that never failed to break us all up. These guys literally backroll over and over, falling from the sky as they tumble backwards once…twice…sometimes three and four rolls before spreading their wings, catching air, and soaring overtop of us. I swear, they reviled in our howls, laughter, and applause, going out of their way to impress us with their skills. I’ve taken to naming them collectively as The Thunderbirds!

And Then There Were Two

The two remaining, having lunch at a neighbor’s house

One day, we noticed only two, the brown-and-white and one of the two black-and-whites. A neighbor later told us he found the other dead in his yard, a yard adjoining one of those huge gas stations/money traps (the name sounds like something you’d put on a bed) that play loud music all night long and pollute a once-quiet neighborhood with their customer-tossed trash. There are cats that live on the filth generated by this obnoxious outfit, and we assume one of those killed the poor bird. The other two seem particularly wary now, not so much of humans but of other animals - dogs, cats, pretty much any other animal will cause them to take flight, even other birds.

The birds are banded, so my daughter, bless her hide, carefully fed them while writing one number at a time from the bands onto her hand…when she had all the phone numbers and a first name, she presented them to me proudly, so I called the number. “I’m looking for Bob,” said I.

“Speaking,” the voice on the other end responded warily.

“I think I have a few of your pigeons here,” I continued, “and I wondered if you’d want to come pick them up.”

“Oh, yeah, you do? Where ’bouts are you located?”

“I’m in south York, Pennsylvania,” I said, now wondering about the unfamiliar zip code I had entered into my cell. I was greeted in reply with a loud, hearty laugh. “Um, where are you?” I asked.

“Phoenix, Arizona. You know, I remember selling some pigeons a year, year-and-a-half ago to a fella from Pennsylvania, although I can’t remember a name or number.”

“Guess you ain’t gonna be by to pick ‘em up, eh?” was the best I could do in response.

I did learn a lot about the little guys. They are rollers, and the whole backflip thing is bred into ‘em so they can perform in shows. Apparently these guys got separated from their kit (Bob did say, “They ain’t homers!” to let me know they’d never find their way home on their own), landed in our little circle, and decided to take up residence. He carefully took my number, and told me if he could just remember the name and number of that darned guy in PA, he’d call him and let him know I had the birds. That was weeks ago, and since I haven’t heard anything, I’m guessing we have some quasi-permanent new residents in our little community.

Not sure where this is going, exactly, since I have two somewhat conflicting imperatives - give them a safe place to live without worrying about being killed by felines or larger birds-of-prey, and keeping the droppings from becoming a problem in the front of my house. So far, depressingly, I’ve been a bit better at the former than at the latter. But since Kate is den-mother to the mini-kit, she’s stuck helping me clean the brick and concrete occasionally. I’ve installed some strange devices to replace the rather ugly wood-and-cardboard mashup, but now they have found another place to spend the night, much to Kate’s consternation.

There’s one thing we can’t deny, though - when these guys take flight, there is unabashed joy in the climbing, circling, rising, tumbling, and especially the triumphant open-winged swoop over our heads after recovering in mid-air!

And I’m pretty sure the birds love it almost as much…



(Ok, I know, I’m supposed to fall all over the HTML5 support for video and drop the Flash. And lord knows, I’d love to, if the browser people could just get their act together enough to all support the same formats. Google supports this, Microsoft that, so to be truly compliant, I’d need to encode the video in three different formats for fallback, including…you guessed it…flash. So until they stop acting like children trying to make up separate rules, flash video it is.)


icon for podpress  Meet the Thunderbirds!: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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