Rock pigeons are to be admired — so long as you’re not beneath the ‘bomb-bay doorways’

Heading to his ordinary Sunday morning yoga class in Leslieville a couple of years in the past, my husband, Peter, gave silent thanks when he discovered a sent-from-above parking spot proper in entrance of the studio. He rapidly eased his black Honda Match, Jellybean, into the house and dashed to his class.

When Peter got here out an hour and a half later, his automobile was so coated in poop he barely acknowledged it. “It regarded like a bunch of elephants with wings had flown over my automobile and relieved themselves,” he mentioned.

There have been no pachyderms to be seen. Pigeons? Sure. Proper above Jellybean a few hydro wires sagged beneath the burden of dozens of the town birds. There was just one factor to do. Peter drove straight to the old-timey automobile wash at Parliament and Entrance and paid the worth to have the carapace of excrement eliminated. Twice.

Then there was the time our son’s girlfriend, Lisa, obtained pooped on on the bus cease at Decrease Gerrard and Coxwell as she waited for her northbound bus to the subway. This cease is infamous for its pigeon downside and Lisa knew to be vigilant. However on this specific day she was operating late for work, on her telephone and never listening to the birds lined up like so many gray bombers in formation above her. When the bomb-bay doorways opened, the blast hit her freshly washed hair. Considering rapidly, she dashed into one of many eating places in Little India, washed the mess out and continued on her method.

Simply one other day attempting to coexist peacefully with pigeons, the birds first dubbed “rats with wings” by New York Metropolis parks commissioner Thomas Hoving in 1966.

I didn’t suppose an excessive amount of extra about my members of the family’ run-ins with the tubby birds recognized formally as rock pigeons and previously as rock doves. However a couple of weeks in the past, our daughter, Em, talked about {that a} household of pigeons had been hanging out on the peaked roof exterior her bed room window. That obtained my consideration. Within the greater than 20 years we’ve lived right here, none of us had ever seen a pigeon on any a part of our roof.

Then a few nights in the past, once I had my bed room window open to permit the sweet-smelling night breezes in, I heard faint noises that sounded just like the scritch-scratch of bubble-gum pink ft transferring about in our eavestroughs.

The subsequent day, I made a decision to see if I may get a have a look at the pigeons. It seems I didn’t want particular clearance from MI6 to spy on them by Em’s window. Removed from flying off in a livid flap of wings as I neared the glass, they had been totally unperturbed by my method.

There have been three pigeons, all about the identical measurement. An in depth look revealed two had been fledglings and the third was an grownup. The children skittered up and down our gray roof tiles, pursuing their father or mother for meals. As soon as they made contact, they pushed their beaks into their father or mother’s invoice, as if to say, “Come on! We all know you’ve obtained our crop milk in there.” However the grownup was having none of it; its parental contract for meals supply had already ended.

Till I began studying concerning the birds on our roof, I had taken the frequent pigeon, Columba livia, without any consideration. I considered them as birds that had all the time been right here, a part of the on a regular basis cloth of metropolis life.

Whereas it’s true rock pigeons have been related to people for a lot of 1000’s of years, they haven’t all the time been in North America. They didn’t attain this continent till the early 1600s. Previous to this, rock pigeons had been pure residents of Eurasia and North Africa, the place their wild nests could possibly be present in slim crevices plentiful in sea cliffs, caves and canyons.

The latter reality explains why these birds have fared so nicely in each the New and Outdated Worlds. Wherever people have created cities and cities, locations with man-made buildings that emulate cliffs, rock pigeons have discovered a house.

Past being evolutionarily profitable, rock pigeons are stunning birds with a regal carriage. Certain, they poop quite a bit. And it may be hazardous to park or stroll beneath a flock of those birds on a wire. Step fastidiously, I say, and admire their shimmering, iridescent plumage.

And what of the birds on our roof? Once I regarded out Em’s window this morning, solely the grownup pigeon was there; the fledglings, rebuffed, had lastly departed. A single small white feather remained on the tiles, a reminder of the pigeon household that was.


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