November 30, 2020

The Junk Drawer: Pigeons in the parking garage

Before I leave for Webster University each day, I look outside my living room window onto my deck, and I observe the peaceful doves. Yes, the peaceful doves that meticulously eat the leftover seeds that other birds let fall from the birdfeeder. A quiet species of bird in the Columbidae family, they go about their lives until someone startles them. They fly away looking for the next spot to grab some seeds or fruit.

After I arrive at Webster and make my way through the parking garage on Garden Avenue, it all changes. It is there the larger cousins of the doves make their home. I’m talking about the pigeons that are seen throughout the garage.

The pigeons appear to have control of the garage. While the doves at my home fly away when I open the patio door, I have witnessed pigeons refuse to budge as my car barrels through the third level. I return from class to see a family of feral pigeons (yes, that is their official title) having a hootenanny on the roof of my car or perching on the ledge of the garage.

There are three familiar species of pigeon: rock, feral (which are the ones seen on the street, in the parks and our parking garage) and domestic. Whether bravery or stupidity, the pigeons are not afraid of our vehicles. Maybe they’re up to something.

Birds in general are strange creatures. They have the power of flight yet elect to walk along the road as I drive by, their short lives flashing before their red, beady eyes. They also have some of the most hilarious names in the animal kingdom. These monikers must have been thought of by the world’s most immature ornithologist. To this day, I can’t not laugh when I hear or say “Blue-footed Booby” or “Titmouse.” Also, Geese are the most evil animals on Earth.

While I see maybe a handful of doves at one time on my deck, I never see only one pigeon by itself. These social birds always have a partner or two with them. Sometimes the whole family gathers like that large party of people at a restaurant who find it necessary to fly the relatives in from Florida for Great Aunt Gertrude’s 40-somethingth birthday or little Dakota’s participant ribbon in 2nd grade intramural soccer.

Then there’s the poop. Good Lord, the poop. Whether or not these pigeons have a personal vendetta against me, there always seems to be presents for me on my car — presents for which I have no receipt. I can’t think of any other animal that we allow to leave fresh dumps on our cars.

There’s this theory I’ve heard regarding the actions of pigeons in our parking garage. It has to do with the DreamWorks’ movie “How To Train Your Dragon.” In the movie based on the book with the same title, the dragons are controlled and led by the Red Death, a giant dragon who lives off the food the other dragons bring back to him.

Perhaps our parking garage is the nest, or den in line with the analogy, of the pigeons, and the lackey birds bring back food and gifts to a giant pigeon never before seen by the Webster students. In any case, these “rats with wings” as they are sometimes called, could be working to feed their “Red Death.” If that’s the case, I would rather they have their messing meetings on the hood of my car than eat me.

If they are working for some master pigeon, it would be wise not to take action against them, lest we anger them. We all know about Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

For those not familiar with the reference, “The Birds” is a 1963 film by Hitchcock in which flocks of birds start attacking the residents for no reason. They flock together and annoyingly peck the helpless citizens.

I’ve only been attacked by a bird once (a chicken when I was 2), and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I could only imagine the horrors if the docile pigeons turned and attacked the people who are driving around the garage for the fourth time trying to find a spot while pigeons are pooping everywhere they already haven’t.

I guess we just need to learn to peacefully coexist with the doves’ misunderstood cousins and let them bring back their food to the master pigeon. The garage is theirs. Let’s just not anger them. That’s just my theory.

You win this round, pigeons.

The Junk Drawer is a weekly column written by Journal opinions editor Tim Doty.

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