The Semi-Magnificent Pigeon

Waiting none too patiently by food bowl

The problem with pigeons is this. They have no manners. They are reckless  poop machines.  Our red-brick patio is dotted with their droppings.  If they were not such prolific poopers I would admire them greatly.

They are the airborne cousins of sharks.  They have adapted to their environment perfectly.  They are resourceful, persevering and show little fear.  And, to my mind, they are handsome if not beautiful in a wide array of colors. 

But we, the pigeons and I, come to war at a certain point.  That point is the food bowls we set out for the three semi-feral cats  that have made our yard home for many years now.  I once thought cats and birds were mortal enemies.  No longer.  The cats allow the hungry pigeons to approach within a foot or two of their bowls as they feed.  When the cats are done, they move a respectful distance away and begin cleaning themselves while the pigeons clean up the Purina pebbles.  

Our pigeons know exactly what time we feed in the morning.  They are waiting on the edge of the roof  like vultures when I take the food bowls out.    They even know where the food is kept inside the house.  It is a fact I’ve seen pigeons pecking at the housecat bowls inside after I had left the backdoor ajar.  On one occassion I accidentally trapped a pigeon inside the kitchen.  It flew about the room in panic.  I stepped aside and the bird shot out the door a few inches from my face.  But within days it or one of its kin had entered the kitchen again to feed.

The pigeon of the arid lands is seen largely as a nuisance.  Environmentalists decry the pigeon, saying it is taking over the habitat of native birds.   But here in the inner city I do not see that.  We have several desert species who regularly pass through our backyard.  The tiny verdin, the Gila woodpecker, the Abert’s towhee, the curved-bill thrasher to name a few.  If anything our native bird population has increased over the last few years.  The pigeon and the native live wing by wing, it seems, in harmony.

 Man in many ways would do well to model himself after the pigeon.  The pigeon does not care what color its brother or sister is.  Even the albino is accepted.   Out here in the desert, the human has not adapted well to the environment.  On the contrary, the human seeks to bend the laws of nature into his own ideas.   

Maybe if more humans watched pigeons this would be a better world.   But first the pigeon needs to clean up its act.  It needs to be nore discreet about this poop thing.


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