Pigeons

When I was in Paris, I had a soft spot for pigeons not least as we didn’t have an abundance of other birds around the place.

Now in Deepest Sussex, we do have lots of other birds and what is more, we have more than enough pigeons – many more than enough.

In Paris we had two who lived in the tree outside the kitchen window and we called them Fred and Marge.

When we got to Sussex, there were also two in the garden so, with a remarkable lack of inventiveness, we also called them Fred and Marge.

One was dispatched by a sparrow hawk – the same sparrow hawk who, living up to its name, ate a load of sparrows.

(It treats the sparrows living in the big back hedge as tapas and takes a little snack now and then.)

And the thing about sparrow hawks is that they clean their plate as it were, so when we found Fred or Marge, there was only a feather or two left.)

But now there are hundreds of bloody pigeons all over the place and they are a blundering nuisance.

They are dim, hefty, greedy and all over the shop.

One pair had the bright idea of building just by our bathroom window – right by it.

There is a climbing hydrangea and a Virginia Creeper there so plenty to rest on, and build around.

I don’t know if you have every seen a pigeon nest but it is not a thing of beauty.

Each pigeon of the pair would arrive with a twig in its mouth and say “ Mmm, ahh, mmm, oh go on then, let’s drop it here.”

Slowly an ungainly pile of twigs appeared.

And whilst you were having a shower, a beady and rather ugly eye would be watching you as it sat on the teetering pile of twigs.

Yes, yes we should have got rid of the nest quickly and discourage them but before we knew it, we were used to being watched cleaning our teeth and then there were two eggs.

Then there were two chicks (we called the squallies.)

I had imagined they would be bald and ugly but the pigeons (mother doing most of the caring, hey ho) were just smart enough to keep them hidden until they were presentably covered in down.

One day I noticed that there was only one squally and yes indeed, a body was found.

I am not sure whether it fell or was pushed and the other squally was surely not telling.

So, as I write, there is one squally, intermittently fed by the parent and now, as I dry off after a shower, it has got into the habit of stretching its wings ready for flight – and showing off to me.

In a few days it will be gone, and so will that nest. (There is only so much pigeon voyeurism a woman can take.)

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