During the pandemic shut down I have hardly seen any pigeons. With all the restaurants and bars closed and everyone else sheltering in place there is no longer a free and easy food source where they can manically gather, gobbling up every crumb. I don’t see them fighting each other over every bean and grain of rice in the burrito someone drunkenly threw up onto the sidewalk the night before.
I haven’t seen large flocks swooping overhead triggered by a hawk settling onto a building’s rooftop. It’s like they’ve all scattered away, realizing they will have to go it on their own since the humans are no longer providing sustenance.
The ones that decided to stay are different than before. Yesterday, before the riots started, I walked under a pepper tree, fluffy with light pink blossoms. Little dried up burgundy pepper pods were hanging off its branches. Suddenly I heard a rustling above me and down came a bunch of seeds and pink flowers. Once out from under the tree I heard more rustling so I looked up to locate what it was. A rat? A raccoon? It was two hardworking pigeons nestled into the poofy flowers and feathery leaves shaking the pepper pods down to three fellow pigeons and two sparrows on the sidewalk below.
Their friends on the sidewalk were not fighting and manic, bullying each other out of the way for their meal. They were quietly cooperating with each other, sharing their meal together. I stopped to look at the two meal makers and they looked beautiful up in their flowery branches. They were calm too, intent on their task. They looked like wild birds living their best lives, nestled in clouds of pink.
I have always liked pigeons and have always thought that if they were not so common, people would see them for the pretty and interesting looking birds that they are. Their iridescent feathers on their necks are like hummingbird feathers, always changing in the sunshine from green, to pink to turquoise and back again. Their grey feathers are broken up with dashes of white and stripes of black.
Yesterday, when I watched them quietly working together, peacefully sitting up in their fluffy tree, watching masked humans scurry under them, I remembered what they really are, in nature. In nature they are doves.