The Pigeons

Pigeons. The very word fills me with dread. It wasn’t always like this. Avian scum. Rats of the sky. Flying trashcans. Show ‘em a little bit of hospitality and they will stay forever. Apparently like a Queenslander.

When I first moved in, I made a discovery. Two scrawny, ugly pigeon chicks lived on my balcony - in an excrement coated bucket. It was 30cm or so deep with shit. I guess this is a bird’s life. They would sit there in silence until they heard a flap of wings. Up they’d get, chirp, chirp. One of the chicks was taller and stronger. He would always be fed first. It is amazing to see survival of the fittest in such a small environment. It took them months to grow up. Months too long. The balcony was cleaned just before I moved in. After 3 months it looked worse. I reckon it hadn’t been cleaned for two years before me. The parents got used to me, and realised I would not chase them away if they were feeding. That was my mistake. I’m on the sheltered side of the beach, ideal breeding territory.

The eldest chick was first out of the nest. He used the opportunity to walk around, he didn’t bother trying to use his wings. When I’d try to chase him off the balcony, he’d flee back to the nest. I’d leave him there. When I finally chased him away, he was well oversized. He'd had an ideal nest, with walking space. That will almost never happen in the wild. They have to fly immediately to leave their nest, or drop to the ground. The little one left a day or two later. I removed the filthy bucket, tossed it in the trash, and hoped that was the end of it.

If I were a newspaper writer, I would take this opportunity to point out the cultural differences between myself and the pigeons. I would state that one must not judge. One should accept relative differences in life. But this would be bullshit. They exist only to crap on my balcony! This
family of pigeons and I are now at war.

Spring is here again. The pigeons – now three, mother, father and strong son – roost but 10 metres away. Last season I managed to keep them away, somehow. They have regathered their efforts. I’d bet they did not breed last Spring, and are desperate this time around. They roost on an open roof. They cannot lay eggs there. I see their beady eyes scoping this prime real estate, my balcony. The mother is looking for a nest. The son appears to be following to ‘see what to do’. The father is clearly on guard duty. When she lands, she goes under chairs, into pot plants, wherever. I have picked her up 3 or 4 times and ejected her. She was too nestled in to make a quick getaway. And of course, all 3 of them crap everywhere.

The pigeons rule my local shopping street. Most people can’t be bothered putting their food in the bin. They feed and feed. They are so tame that the older pigeons are willing to fly onto your table while eating. It may take 5 shoos before they bloody get the message. Some old men feed them daily. In a way, the pigeons offer them a greater social outlet than humans. When I am in a different city, I like nothing more than feeding the birds. It’s a weird (anti-social in a sense) behaviour.

Yesterday I filled a small cup with turpentine. I soaked bread in it overnight, and left it for the pigeons. They haven’t eaten it. They haven’t been back for two days – no new shit. Will they finally leave me alone? Must I kill them to get my peace?

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