Paris, Naples & Pigeons

When we were living in a posh suburb of Paris, we had a flat with a small balcony and I bought a bird feeder.

Among the visitors – sparrows, tits if various sorts etc – there were a pair of pigeons.

We got a letter which said that we had to desist from feeding the birds, and when I was accosted by someone on the ground floor, I was reminded that it was also prohibited to put an airer of clothes on the balcony.

“This is not Naples,’ I was told.

The pigeons were definitely not to be encouraged, but we did anyway.

They were Fred and Marge and stupid as pigeons are, but a darn sight more friendly than a some of the locals.

They would sit in the tree outside our kitchen window and watch me cooking supper.

When we moved into the depths of the Sussex countryside, we found a couple of pigeons lived in our trees – as do, more delightfully, a couple of collared doves.

Not very imaginatively, we called the pigeons, Fred and Marge.

One of them – I am not sure how you sex a pigeon – was eaten (down to a few feathers, not even a beak or a foot) by the sparrowhawk. Unless it was a fox, or something.

Anyway, that was then.

Since then, the survivor has taken up with another, and for all I know, many others – and more have arrived, so that tonight I saw a flock of what must have been fifty to a hundred of them.

( Last Autumn a pair set up temporary home outside our bathroom window and watched balefully as we went about our ablutions. They will nest and breed at any time of year it seems.)

I’m no twitcher, but I am pretty sure there were nowhere near as many when we arrived.

Whilst I can still be pleased at the sight of a pair of red kites swooping over the field, and like very much going to sleep with owls hooting, and get very pleased when I can tell the difference between one small brown bird and another, I am no longer much of a pigeon fan.

But I can hang out my washing with no one complaining.

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