Thursday, September 8, 2011
I have been called many things in my life. Filth, rat with wings, vermin; these are just some of the terrible names that I have had to endure in my short life. I want to set things straight for anyone who cares to know. We pigeons are not as bad as everyone makes us out to be. And, setting the record straight, I have no vermin in my bloodline (well, except for my cousin who’s currently with that rat who lives on 17th street, but I don’t understand that one at all.)
It’s true, stereotypical, I do live in a city, and not just any city, but New York City. But I’m not one of those pigeons that peck around at your feet eating whatever trash falls to the ground. I have standards!
This is not to say that there aren’t pigeons that do this, but I’m saying that that doesn’t mean that we all do it. My parents rose us right.
My nest, when I was a squab, was high up at the top of a sky scraper in a window that couldn’t open and looked in at a storage space, so no window cleaners ever bothered to clean it. In short, it was the perfect place for us to live, because it was secluded. No one ever bothered us. The view was gorgeous. We could see the whole of New York from the nest. Once I learned to fly, I really did appreciate my parents for all they did for us, because as nice and safe as our nest was, it really was a lot of work flying to it from the ground. Sky scrapers are huge!
A lot of other pigeons I’ve met, the trash eating variety, would tell me that when they were squabs, their parents fed them whatever they could find. I’m talking french fries, bits of gyros, and pizza, and pieces of hot dogs, which, let’s be honest, no one know what’s in those things.
My parents refused to do this. We ate properly. My mom would go and search Central Park for hours to find some worms, and then she would fly the whole way back up to the nest to then regurgitate it back to us. Two things about that, 1, you have to realize that for her to be able to make that flight, she had to eat more worms that what she fed us, because that takes a lot of energy to fly that high, and 2, regurgitated worms are not as bad as you’d think. I sometimes miss them. Regular worms, they’re all squirmy and when you bite into them, juices come out, etc., regurgitated, all pre-chewed and warm from mama’s belly. Spectacular!
Occasionally either Mom or Dad would find berries, and then we ate like kings. I’m telling you.
I mean, I never ate a piece of “human food” until I was about three months old and going through my rebellious phase, if you know what I mean.
When I ate my first bite of a hot dog, there was that moment of euphoria. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, but then it was followed by a small child running after me, waving his arms frantically. The whole event scarred me for years to come.
I will also admit, that even Mom and Dad, and no, I don’t still live with them, but we do spend a lot of time together, even they love to eat bread crumbs given to us by a kindly old woman. Those old women, I’m telling you, they are goddesses. They come down to the park when it’s sunny, and sometimes even when it’s not, and they’re nice to us.
I have to be clear, there are definitely the old ladies that come to feed the ducks, cause ducks are considered cute, and they wave us away when we come over, but these aren’t all the old ladies. Some of them are just happy sitting anywhere in the park, not just by the ponds and feeding whoever is around. There have been some days where I’ve gotten close with some sparrows and some crows while pecking at bread crumbs.
This isn’t enough of a meal, of course, but it’s a wonderful treat and makes you feel wonderfully happy after being chased by a nasty dog or cat, or having to eat another worm after not being able to find any berries.
Let’s also discuss one other thing. The head bob thing.
I’ll admit, I hate the fact that my head bobs with every step I take. Hate it! Like it’s not enough that we’re not the most physically attractive birds you’ve ever seen, but then we also have to bob our heads awkwardly when we walk? And take a moment to imagine my view of the world for a moment. When I fly, yeah, then everything is beautiful, but day to day activities, walking around the park, it takes all I have to avoid vomiting up my lunch. The constant bobbing is sickening.
I sometimes think this is the true reason why we’re hated. It looks unnatural and awkward, and we’re the only birds, that I at least know of, that have this quirk. I mean sparrows are just as bad as we are, in attitude, sometimes worse! I’ve seen groups of sparrows take over an entire McDonald’s bag, and go to town on it, but when people see them, they go, “aww, silly birds.” Rude! That’s called rude. What, just cause they’re small and their heads cock all cutely to the side when they look at you? It’s unfair.
I tried once to act like a sparrow, you know, hopping all quickly from place to place rather than actually flying, like a bird, and cocking my head to the side real quick and looking at people as they sat on a bench reading a newspaper, or whatever it is people do, but instead of getting a smile, the way the sparrows do, the people who I did this to all responded by kicking at me to go away.
So what’s left to say. I don’t think that this confession, or testimony, or whatever you chose to call it is going to change anything really as far as people perceive us, but I just needed to get it down somewhere. Don’t ask me how this has been transcribed so that you can read it, you wouldn’t believe it. All you need to know is that it involves a parrot, a chimp and a typewriter.
I guess that last thing that needs to be discussed is the one thing that I truly love about being a pigeon. I mentioned it slightly, but it needs to be said. I don’t care that I may be hated by people, and that other birds can fly better than I can, flying, regardless of how graceful and beautiful I look while in the air, is the greatest joy in the world.
I’ve known pigeons who have broken wings, and without our wings, we are nothing. Besides the obvious fact that they can’t get back to their nests, life is just not worth living. The rush of leaping off of a building and letting yourself fall for a bit until you quickly start to flap your wings, and then that lift that pulls you up into the air, it’s like nothing any human could probably imagine.
When I’m in the air, I can see all the people that call me trash, and small from far away. Trapped on the ground, they look like the worms that I eat for breakfast. They use cars and trains to get from place to place, and yet it is always I who makes it to their destination first. With a rush of wind in my face and worm in my belly.