Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Pigeon Housing Authority

"Sorry, you feathered moron, we let you raise your young, but now it's war." My husband declared, standing in my home office, staring out through the window with a steely glint in his eye.

I barely noticed because this has become a regular vignette in my life. My husband, and my cat spend a lot of time staring out of my office windows, keeping watch against the feathered invaders. The cat, hunkered down, intent, staring upward. My husband by his side, trying to look menacing. I'm sure the poor woman next door wonders why my husband seems to start, and end each day, looking upwards between our two house, and like he's in the mood to pluck something.

This is because Fwup, our deranged pigeon, a bird with a brain the size of a hefty sunflower seed, has stunning object permanence. This is the same creature who repeatedly batters himself/herself against our windows, despite the fact that we have plantation shutters on most. Fwup could never be accused of possessing the gifts of a scholar, but Fwup is nonetheless the most tenacious of all the flying creatures on this verdant earth, and giving up is against his little bird soul.

When we first moved in here, as mentioned before, there was a caucus of pigeons dwelling on the rooftops, staring down into the space between our house, and our hard-of-hearing neighbor. I've never envied anyone a hearing deficiency before I met Fwup and his cooing compatriots. Then, oh how I longed for selective deafness.

We had a problem with evicting the Pigeon Posse, not only were the pigeons in question surprisingly territorial -- I have now been dive-bombed, Alfred Hitchcock style -- they had a nest of eggs when we arrived. None of us could quite bring ourselves to order the Mafia style hit that would be required to rid ourselves of the Cooing Cooperative. Evidently, it takes a village of city chickens to raise three eggs.

We waited, and were seemingly rewarded. Fwup and his -- or her, I know about thismuch about bird gender identification, and Fwup seemed to guard the nest, and make noise as opposed to hatching anything -- took off when the last of the tiny, and ugly, baby pigeons grew to the point they could fly off. Mercifully, that's just what they did. Learning how to take flight also involved a lot of loud, parental pigeon encouragement, and a good number of collisions with my windows. I had bird smudges galore but finally, off they went to make their way in the world.

Outside my husband trouped, ladder at the ready, trowel in hand. His trusty bottle of disinfectant and a good supply of window cleaner. Not to mention a hose and what seemed 300 gallons worth of blasting out the gutters. They were clogged you see. Turns out that when you let a bunch of pigeons perch on your gutters they leave behind trace evidence that is not so trace in the impact.

We ended up closing up the garage, and having him strip naked, pitching his clothes before he went sprinting, in a state of undress, through the house yelling "Ew! Ew! Ew, ew, ew!" all the way to the hottest shower he's ever taken. When he emerged there was ample reason for me to believe I was married to a 6'4" ,recently cooked, crustacean.

But it was over. My husband hadn't seemed to have contracted any lethal, pigeon-born virus, and the nest was gone.

Fwup's relatives bugged off into the beyond, and all was silent for about a month. About the lifespan I would have attributed to a bird of Fwup's intelligence, actually. Then he came back another fiend in tow, and began to rebuild in exactly the same spot.

We were willing to risk the karma hit by taking on the role of Pigeon Home-Wreckers. We knocked the few meager twigs down and squirted the area down with more 409. For good measure, we stuffed a commercially produced eave-blocking device up in Fwup's favored homestead.

He began to build around it. We knocked it down. Lather, rinse, repeat. I pretty much mean that literally.

Now Fwup perches outside and coos for hours at a time in an agitated manner. He puts up a twig, we poke it down. He spends another day singing his sorrows to the heavens, and tries again.

I'm telling you, if we could harness Fwup's ability to focus for the power of good? We could solve some serious problems.

As it is, we just spend a lot of time addressing the eaves, saying things like, "Trust me, you feathered bum, this will be your last stand!"

And I wear headphones in my office a great deal.


Jo said...

Alane, you need to get rid of Fwup at your earliest possible convenience. Pigeons carry mycobacterium avium intracellulare (MAI), and it's nasty. I work for the Centre for Disease Control. Once you get an infestation of pigeons, it's difficult to get rid of them. Fwup's buddies will be back.

A pest control company could probably help you to put up some bird strips, so the pigeons can't nest there anymore.

Keep us posted. :-)

DUTA said...

Jo is right. Pigeons are a health hazard. Besides, they gaher on power lines and could cause power outage in the area.

Amy said...

Alane, You HAVE to "off" Fwup - Jo's right! Speaking of pests, my dog and I have had a 3 year battle with voles in our garden. We're finally getting the upper hand; so far this summer Jack and I have caught and killed three voles. I usually don't kill anything, but these deserve killing, plus they procreate like crazy. Check this out:

A Vole Victory

Had to laugh out loud when your husband ran into the garage....that's so so funny! It reminds me of the time my husband was trying to shoot a squirrel (aka tree rat) with a bb gun and fell backwards into the pool with his bathrobe on and gun in hand.

It was revenge for the squirrel dislodging a cone which smashed his windshield. Let's see - who do you think got the upper hand?

PhilipH said...

Pigeons are noisy and dirty pests and I wish you well in your battle with Fwup. A shotgun often works well, but if you don't fancy that you could try sticking a cardboard cutout of an eagle or large raptor in the vicinity. Better still, get a real one!

Bird-brain is a good name for many birds. Around our way we would say the bird with very little brain at all is the pheasant. At times our country lanes are littered with their corpses. Time and time again I swerve or brake to avoid these long-tailed brainless creatures. Sometimes I think they are playing 'chicken'! They seem to wait on the verge and when they spot a car coming they dash across the road to get to the other side! Why did the pheasant cross the road? He/she had a death wish.

Land of shimp said...

I've been trying to catch a video snippet of Fwup and company, but the second I open the shutters, they scatter. it's also useless to march out there.

Fear not, Jo. We have finally accepted that if we can't get the pigeons to leave by blocking the eave access, a pest control company has to be called. Don't worry too much about my husband's exposure, he did don a mask, and gloves, etc. (I think the neighbors will soon be terrified of us).

I won't let them be poisoned, though. That just endangers other birds, and dogs if they meet up with a deceased bird that has been poisoned.

But we talked it over last night, and came to the agreement that we've done everything to spare them. If they won't leave? At least we really tried before condemning them.

DUTA, yes, very occasionally around here birds will cause outages also! That's a lot of pigeon weight!

Amy, I did check out the vole story, and you've answered a long, long held question of mine. Many years ago, when I was a single mom, I had a crazed rodent trying to get into my condo one night. It was later found dead by my car. Turns out, it was a vole!

I've heard of them, but never seen them and I know they are murder on a garden. Get 'em!

I've already told my husband he won't be shooting BB guns at anything (he's also threatened, must be a guy thing). Pest control is sometimes necessary, but the executioner needs to do swift work.

Bathrobes weigh roughly a million pounds soaking wet! Hehe, your poor hubby.

Philip, you made me laugh! Thank you :-)

The pheasant had presumably had one of those, "I've come to the end of me!" sort of moments.

I shall view Fwup's impending doom in such a manner. I do feel bad, there are a lot of pigeons in the world, and I just want Fwup and friends to go join them! However, bird won't take a hint. See: Brain, lack thereof.

Amy said...

Alane, My husband has a suggestion for your Fwup problem. Or maybe it's more appropriate after Fwup is gone and you want to deter future visitors. There's a product from "Tanglefoot" - never used the stuff so this is not an endorsement. Here's the link if you're interested:

Tanglefoot Bird Repellant

Happy Hunting!!!

Derik said...

Does this give credence to the term 'bird brain?'

Land of shimp said...

Amy, sincerely, thank you and to your husband too. We've ordered some, and hope to put it to great use.

Rob, my husband, walked in last night with a look half born of terror, and half of astonishment and said, "I swear to God, I think Fwup's rounded up reinforcements. There are seven of the flying bums out there!"

Derek, hello! I think it may prove that the term "bird-brain" might be a generous term in common usage. Seriously, ask not for whom the bell tolls, the bell tolls for that flying bum. Yet he won't take the repeated hints and buzz off into the myriad of nearby trees.

The executioner is happily sharpening an axe and Fwup's stance? "I'm going to win this!" There are Dust Motes that feel their intelligence is insulted by poor, soon to be departed, Fwup.

For anyone reading this that is completely horrified that I've contacted a pest removal company: Fear not. We have stuck up extra measures. We'll deploy the bird away goo, also. If Fwup can't take a major hint by next Saturday? I'm afraid his stay on this earth may indeed be over, but I also swear this was not my first choice. As much as I currently despise the feathered terrorist, my hope is I can get him to bug off before the Executioner's Song starts playing.

Jennifer D said...

What a funny story!
I appreciate your hesitation when it comes to the execution. My husband sets mouse traps with good reason and one time an infant mouse dropped out of my piano and then the rest of his siblings dropped out!
I ended up nursing the little things with milky bread till they were jumping all around with open eyes.
I know I am Nuts!
I mean our trap killed their mother.I couldn't just kill the little innocents... how would I even do it? I let them loose down by the creek far from town healthy as can be. :O)

Land of shimp said...

Ha! Jennifer, I know what you mean, and you have company in being nuts.

When we first discovered Fwup it was the fact that there were little pigeons in the nest already that kept us from acting.

I just couldn't bring myself to be responsible for producing the pigeon equivalent of Oliver Twist.

Sounds like we share that trait, "Listen, long life to you, much happiness, and all that. It's just that we must maintain separate environments, you see. It's not you, it's me."

And I didn't feel right about trying to get them to bug off when they didn't really have a choice. But we've offered all the discouragement we can muster, and now force is our only option.

Well done on relocating the mouse orphans. As a child I loved [i]The Rescuers[/i] series :-)

Merlin said...

lol @ I'm telling you, if we could harness Fwup's ability to focus for the power of good? We could solve some serious problems.

Jennifer D said...

Shimp, I OWN the rescuers! he he

and you know, you gotta do what you gotta do.