Outlaw Pigeons

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Story about a man who hates a group of pigeons, and the way he deals with them.

Submitted: August 24, 2018

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Submitted: August 24, 2018

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Outlaw Pigeons

 

Nobody is perfect, every person has a weak spot, mine is pigeons. I hate them. I can’t help it. Other birds don’t bother me, but I just can’t cope with pigeons. In our town you can see a lot of them, mainly concentrated in the square in front of the train station. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate all birds, I love sparrows and I don’t mind the occasional tits. They are all small birds that come close, but don’t want to mob you. Sometimes, I even call them my feathered friends. A name I would never use for pigeons. Once I heard those very aptly described as winged rats. Calling them winged muggers would also be very suitable.
Whenever I return from work, they are there; in front of the train station. They usually flock around the small fountain in the middle of the square, a good vantage point for muggers. There are at least forty of them. They prance around the fountain looking for scraps of food that people throw at them. Their beady little eyes are always scanning for potential suckers who are willing to provide them with a snack. I said willing, but willingness doesn’t really come into it, they make sure of that. They are the avian equivalent of the human couch potato, too lazy to go looking for a real meal, completely dependant on morsels of junk food handed out to them by humans who mistakenly believe that they help the local wildlife. Wildlife my ass! Yet, their behaviour is pretty wild. It is as wild as the behaviour of those small goats in petting zoos, and just as obnoxious. Whenever they spot a child with a choice bit of food, they will mob the child and harass it until it drops the food in utter fear of its life. Parents often find this highly amusing. They start laughing when they see it happen. I don’t understand that. Am I the only one who recognizes the situation for what it really is? There’s nothing funny about it, it’s a clear example of predation. What’s more, the pigeons don’t limit their victims to children, like most goats do. Fully grown up people are also mobbed by them.
Just like so many others, I am a daily commuter, which means I travel home from my office in the city an hour and a half before my wife puts dinner on our table. It means that I am usually quite peckish when I arrive at the train station. I don’t want to have my stomach growling on my ten-minute walk home, so I usually have a light snack. I prefer the odd muesli bar or a king-size cookie nothing fancy. Before the pigeons were there, I used to tuck into my snack as soon as I left the station, no problem there, but then the pigeons showed up. From then on trying to eat anything in front of the station was asking for trouble. Within seconds of being spotted, the pigeons will fly to you like Stuka dive bombers and go for the goodies. They will even land on your head, your shoulders and your arms to rob you of whatever food you are trying to eat. Their wings will hit you all around your head and torso. I even saw a small. elderly woman being brought to the ground by the pigeon onslaught. She started shrieking but that didn’t deter the bastards. She was rescued by a man carrying an umbrella, who had the sense to flail around with it as if it were a sword. It took him at least half a minute to disperse the thieving birds, but it was too late for her sandwich, it was gone, not a morsel was left.
 

Lately, some pigeons started roaming around the town. I guess the population had outgrown the food supply of the square outside the train station. One Saturday morning, a couple of them even appeared in our own back yard. The normal residents, a group of sparrows, very quickly cleared out of the area. They obviously could recognize bullies as soon as they saw them. The sparrows gone, the pigeons settled on top of the fence, and started inspecting their newly conquered territory. Their beady eyes fell on the small table I had made myself, so I could photograph the sparrow when feeding, and within seconds all the seeds and peanuts were gobbled up by the invading pigeons. That’s when I noticed that in the fading light of day their feathers took on a distinctly menacing shade of grey, more field grey than the light grey one normally associates with pigeons.
‘That’s it,’ I said to my wife. ‘I’m going to put a stop to that.’
‘They’re just birds,’ my wife said. She doesn’t travel by train, so she was still a bit naïve about the winged muggers.
‘Fucking pigeons. They chased away our birds,’ I retorted with vehemence.
‘They follow their instincts, they look lovely,’ my wife defended them. It was clearly time to warn her about the impending doom.
‘Don’t fall for that. They may look cute to you now, all plump and cooing all the time, but they are vicious. Did you see them chase away our sparrows?’
‘Don’t be ridiculous. They don’t harm any other birds. They are not even predators.’
‘Ah, that’s where you’re wrong. It’s their trick. They no longer are ordinary pigeons, they are no longer related to the doves that bring peace. No olive branches for that lot. They have become a totally different species. They have evolved into urban mobster birds. They just hunt for easy meals. They are the Mafiosi of the bird world. Look at the one in the middle.’ I pointed to a bird that was decidedly heavier than the others. ‘He’s the worst of the lot. I once saw him attack a child in a stroller; took away its cookie in a flash. The child didn’t stand a chance.’
‘But he’s missing one of his toes,’ my wife observed with sympathy in her voice.
‘War wound; he’s as hard as nails,’ I explained.
‘You’re mad.’ My wife simply refused to believe me.
‘You’ll wait and see.’
It took two weeks for my wife to change sides. After having seen the sparrows move away from the area, and after having her cookies seen stolen from the table on our patio, she finally admitted her mistake, not by telling me she had been wrong, but by getting us a necessary piece of hardware. One day when I returned from work, there were a small starter’s pistol and some boxes of blank cartridges on our kitchen table.
‘Just get rid of them,’ my wife said in disgust as she handed me the gun. ‘You don’t have to kill them, just frighten them off.’
Within a couple of days the pigeons got the message. They suddenly started to avoid our yard. You could still see them in the neighbourhood, but they must have decided that we weren’t worth the trouble of having me blasting away at them all the time.
Things have changed now. Very soon after the pigeons had disappeared, the sparrows returned. We now only put food outside, when we actually see them in the yard. It pays off to be cautious, you never know.  Now two other avian guests can sometimes be seen. We get regular visits from a couple of magpies. They are beautiful. I just hope they don’t start stealing things like teaspoon or other shiny objects. I can’t stand the sound of that noisy gun myself.

 

Bert Broomberg 24-8-2018

 


© Copyright 2018 Bert Broomberg. All rights reserved.

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