Well, perhaps not as far as we will be by the weekend. We’re finally doing the whole ‘let’s get rid of the birds’ thing. I haven’t mentioned it before, but we share our maisonette, or rather the outer side of it, with our resident, non-rent paying pigeons.
It started off with the cute, tiny birds that are about the size of your index finger. You know, the ones that *tweet* and *trill* and peck at the seeds you leave on the sill and then fly away and only come back the following day. Keep up the supply of birdseed and you have a bunch of really original window ornaments.
But then the pigeons followed. First one, then two. And for a while that was all. One thing you learn real quick is that pigeons are the ornithological reply to sheep. They’re plain stupid. Seriously. And that’s a compliment.
So the couple twaddled around our very artificial backyard – all concrete and stone – squatted on the top of our wall and basically made a nuisance of themselves by showing their appalling sense of hygiene. But since there were only two, I guess we felt kind of sorry for them and put out the occasional crumbs of burnt toast. (courtesy of me – see Oh Frabjous Day! 27th April 2007)
When we wouldn’t put out anything, they’d just wander around sadly and peck at the stone slabs with a despondency that was enough to melt the heart. So we put out crumbs more often. Big mistake. Huge mistake. As in HUGE.
Soon enough, the two had set up a nest. A very covert undertaking, we didn’t even know the thing existed until we heard the chicks begin to bawl. Yup. We now had a nice family of pigeons. And for stupid birds, they had managed quite a sly takeover.
Still, you can’t fault nature for perpetuating and babies are babies beyond all boundaries – even those of species. (Think about how much more appealing rose buds are than the full blooms.) So we ooh-ed and aah-ed over the tiny heads that peeked out and the shrill cries they let out. We wondered in amazement at the sudden aggressiveness parenthood brought over the scaredy-cat (chicken-hearted?) birds. And when the lil’ dahlings began to learn how to fly, oh my!
The one thing we didn’t realise was that the dahling chooks were born in domestic surroundings. Basically, while their parents were migrants from somewhere else, these new birds were totally domesticated. Our backyard was their natural habitat. The things are unafraid. They walk all over the place and even into the kitchen, a liberty their parents never took. They don’t peck pathetically at empty slabs, they noisily demand their food and stare back defiantly when you go out empty-handed.
The one thing they share with their parents is their lack of any sanitary-habits. So now we have four (chubby) birds to clean up after instead of two. At least until last week. See, even in the animal kingdom, a freebie is something to spread the word about, and these guys were not only getting bed and breakfast free, we were also throwing in lunch, dinner and the odd mid-day snack. What self-respecting bird can turn up its beak on such an offer? Apparently, not many.
As of last week, our free-boarders have risen by three to give us a grand total of seven birds. Fit that in a small quadrangle where we’re trying to hang out our clothes to dry, grow a little garden, and do all kinds of chores and you have too many living things in one small place. And a whole lot of yucky mess to clean-up.
Because of their increased numbers, they’re now a lot more vocal too. We have a constant coo-ing all day long and well into the wee hours of the night.
So now we’re thinking about doing something to ‘get rid’ of them. Except you don’t do drastic stuff to birds you’ve fed and watched grow up. We tried closing up the nook they had built their nest in, but they only moved over to the pantry shelf and the window sills instead. When we tried to cover those bits with plastic and rope, they found their way through and scared us with horrific thoughts of them strangling themselves on the rope or suffocating because they couldn’t get out from behind the plastic sheets.
The lady who comes over to help with the housework offered to catch them and take them with her and my mum was overjoyed until she mentioned how sweet their meat was…
The latest option we’ve been considering is boxing them up on the weekend, driving them to the mosque at the other end of town, letting them go free there and praying that they don’t having homing-pigeons genes in them. Only problems are: who’s gonna catch them? and will I be willing to sit next to a cardboard box with seven very scared, very restless, very stupid, very fat birds for the 25 minute ride there?
P.S. If you know how to humanely tell pigeons that they’ve overstayed their welcome, puhleeeze tell me. I’ll be forever grateful, as will we all.