Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Touched By an Angel? Not quite.*

This week I have been touched not by an angel, but by another winged creature -- the pigeon.

*Due to the shift from mind speculation to blog entry, this will probably not be as interesting to you as me. But I'll try.

I love my office. It's really a cubby, a random narrow alley furnished with a desk that leads to a huge ten-foot window. Not bad, not bad at all.

There's a big cement block coming out of the wall next to my window, and there's a big sheet of window glass on the face of it that extends past the sides of the cement. This forms a little corner of cement and glass just outside my window, a perfect shelter for birds. These avian visitations have been welcome by me, as I like looking at nature while I'm working.

But recently, a gray pigeon with a black head and orange eyes has taken up permanent residence in the corner ledge. It sits calmly and, I discovered, has a pigeon mate.

This pigeon is the source of my unexpected fascination: It's a black-and-white patchy pigeon and I think it's the male (I don't understand how birds are sexed). I have never seen pigeon nest-building behavior until now, and it's fascinating -- I really had no idea pigeons could be so smart. At first I only saw it arriving, stick in beak, to deposit the find either on the nest or on the other pigeon, who would navigate it into a new position. This afternoon on my way back from Phillips Cafe, I saw the sprightly guy fly over and start vigorously bobbing up and down the sidewalk looking for choice sticks. It turns out pigeons are extremely detail-oriented! I thought he would just pick whichever stick came first, but no. He first picks up a stick that looks good, and weighs it by picking it up and dropping it a few times, and then shaking it up and down with his beak. I have seen the pigeon actually REJECT a stick -- how sad is that stick? After he's found a good one, the pigeon flaps back up to the nest-in-progress, and starts the process all over again. He's been at it for days now.

Sure, it's a pigeon, but this is a pigeon building a home and a future. I can't help but feel for this cute pigeon pair. And I can't help but worry about speeding cars when I see Mr. Stickfinder bobbing around on the street. And I have to admit I find it pretty awesome that the Discovery Channel is right outside my window when I walk over for a break.

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