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.