The Pigeon Story

I hate pigeons. Nothing would ever make me say, ‘That’s a nice pigeon. I’ll invite them round to my house.’ And this is despite the fact that my cousin, Billy, has been a champion of England pigeon flyer and trips to my aunty Maggie’s outside loo meant passing by the pigeon loft, both ways. ‘Don’t coo at me, pigeon. I don’t like you. You’re noisy. You’re smelly and you shit over everything. I just don’t want you near me. Any of you. Get it? OK. Get going, move it. I don’t care where you go but get going. Move it.Get out of here.

Once I spent weeks aiming fallen crab apples at a pigeon’s nest over the front door. When apples stopped working, I got out my son’s water blaster canon, double-barrelled, and let them have it, both barrels. It felt good. Anything which stopped me sleeping had to go. Move them on. Get rid. Get them out. According to my wife, the neighbours told her I put on quite a show. ‘Don’t mess with me, pigeon, or you’re dead.’ (I didn’t actually kill one).

Time passes and we come to a morning in April this year. I looked out the window of my upstairs living room. Were those twigs in the gutter below? No, they couldn’t be. How did they get there? Next appeared two pigeons, very attentive to one another’s needs. I opened the window and closed it again quickly. They flapped and loped and flew off. I hoped that would be enough.

They came back. I wondered about poking them with a mop but, strictly speaking, they were my landlord’s problem, not mine. Maybe, a quick text could get me a pigeon task force? While I was thinking about this, the next time I looked out the window, the female – I’m assuming it was the female – was sitting on the nest, ringed by little, white feathers. And white feathers mean angels. Oh, no, the pigeons were protected by angels and there wasn’t a single thing I could do about it. Strangely, somewhere in me felt good about this.

I followed the progress of the birds over the next couple of weeks. The hen fattened. I saw the male returning with twigs he picked up off the pavement, dropping them by the nest for the female to place. I started looking out for them, wondering how they were. You know how you never see a baby pigeon. Have you ever seen one? Do you even know its name? Precisely, because there’s no such thing or so I’ve always thought. Even the children are born rotten.

One day, I opened my curtains and the nest was empty, save for a small, white egg. Very pretty. Pure white, about the size of a dessert spoon. I know, how does a pigeon grow out of that? Easy, it pecks through the pointy end with its beak. The mum returned to sit on the nest and my curiosity was piqued. I started stealing glances, standing sideways behind the centre post of the window, so as not to disturb her. Had the chick hatched yet? Was there any sign?

One ordinary day in April, the bird sat on the nest. It shifted slightly and I saw. I saw a scrawny, olive chick with no feathers, big eyes and a long, black beak. Mum was keeping it warm and it disappeared underneath her. I felt happy. New life, even if it was a pigeon.

I never saw the chick again, although I looked every day. It may have been under the bird. Then, there was a second egg, left alone on the nest. The day after, it was gone. So were the birds. They’ve not come back to the nest, beautifully made of sticks, their home. Funny thing is, I miss them and I hope they’re ok, wherever they are. I hope the little chick is growing and I worry about what happened to that second egg. I miss ‘em.


8 thoughts on “The Pigeon Story

  1. Hi Bernie. Thank you for this. Relevant to me in two ways. One, pigeons figure in my (rather secret at this point) attempt at a novel. Second, I was writing in my morning pages (Artist’s Way- do you know it?) about demonising those we don’t know. Specifically the people who disturb my sleep and my quiet times in the morning. My temporary upstairs neighbours have been driving me mad, their toddler waking me from 5.30 onwards, running over a wooden floor. I’d met the mother and baby occasionally – nice woman., nice chat, apologies, but never agreed to come in and have tea. I thought evil thoughts about the husband who gallumphs down the stairs about 7 a.m. Then, finally after 8 months, wrote a note (no other way of communicating as they didn’t answer the door) and put it under the door,. A nice note, but making certain suggestions. Next day, the husband arrived at my door with the most glorious bunch of peonies. Simply beautiful – “Just apologising for the noise.” He came in and we chatted. Now, all is quieter, and my response to any noise is quite different.

    • This is beautiful, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing it. People certainly do have strong opinions about pigeons. for me, the idea came from a workshop when we were asked to come up with a suggestion (code) for looking at blaming. I remembered the pigeon on the gutter and how my feelings changed.

  2. Marion writes….
    Lovely pigeon story – thanks! here’s mine. Yuo might hate pussycats as much as pigeons!

    We have a large rural garden so are overrun with pigeons. It’s not unusual to find a dozen on the back lawn. When we came here were 2 pairs! When our kittens (now cattens) first started going out at the end of March (becuase we had snow till then) they rapidly started bringing in presents. Amber is a natural born killer (aparently typical of neutered femails who think they are killing for their (phantom) babie)s. We had 3 baby unspecified birds (through the cat flap), a perfect green finch which made me very sad, and an adult pigeon left outside from Amber, while Ben (who thinks he’s a cuddly toy) would bring feathers or bits of fluff! We had a mouse and 2 moles. Then one day last week Ben was playing with a baby pigeon in the front garden – amazing, but something wasn’t right. Brian raked open the hedge and found a nest with a baby pigeon in. He said he hadn’t the heart to kill it. 2 hours later the baby was dead on the ground below. Again Brian raked open the hedge. But someone was sitting on the nest. Mother pigeon? No, Amber!

  3. Jo writes…
    I read this story and smiled at my own reaction to seagulls, which has been less favourable than yours to pigeons. Though something to aspire to! Months of being woken by flapping on my balcony, followed by a nest planted in my flower tub and I was virtually screeching inside, at the thought of prolonged flapping.I’ m a light sleeper so it didn’t take much to add to my frustration and I sleep in a room next to the balcony! I had one egg then another.. and yes, I saw a baby seagull which I swiftly deemed downright ‘ugly’, and inside decided I’d determinedly remove my flower-tub soil at the first chance I had…which turned out to be absolutely ages as they laid more eggs !!.

    Thanks for sending your story. Brighton is full of seagulls and I m still working on liking them!

  4. Shaila writes…That’s quite a touching story Bernie, it’d be interesting to know what the cause was for your antagonism towards the pigeons in the beginning. It’s funny how as life moves forward we begin to be more accepting of things that riled us yesteryear.

  5. This makes me think of our next door neighbours who also have a lot of pigeons living in the trees around thie garden. They dislike them intensely. But somehow they don’t do anything about it. I think that they too do not with to loose the sense of the living world of which we are all apart, which the pegeons bring.

  6. and from Peter…
    When I moved here four years ago I took down a 40ft cypress tree growning perilously close to the house. As I took it down, bit by bit, it turned out to be multistorey accommodation for pigeons, I found six nests, with the remains of others. I wouldn’t have liked to be in the nest at the bottom.

    And now I get the sun!

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