The Extraordinary Pigeon
You would be wondering why I am writing about pigeons. While the Rock pigeons have adapted well to the urban habitat, they face numerous threats.
But first, let me share my experience with you. It happened about three years ago. My mom and I had gone to a small garden near my home.
Just then, we noticed a very young pigeon sitting on a wall. We looked around to see if there were any nests or his parents nearby. Suddenly, a teenaged boy sprang up from behind and picked him up saying “Oh this is mine! How did he come here?”
We also got interested and asked him what the matter was. He explained that he was the son of the gardener and that this little bird was born in a nest near his home. A day prior to this one, this boy brought this bird to his father’s workplace – the garden, keeping the pigeon in his bicycle basket, riding some 20-25 kms.
This meant that on that particular day, on his maiden flight, this amazing pigeon had not only flown the distance, but also correctly mapped the exact location. I was left awe-stuck and my respect for pigeons multiplied. These pigeons are known for their exceptional navigation capabilities and that was the reason these were used as messengers long back. And that, perhaps, is the reason why they come to our balconies and windows because for generations, we humans encouraged that.
We humans are careless in disposing our garbage. The pigeons end up with nylon strings and human hair tied around their legs. Since the poor birds have no hands, they keep tugging hard, the string keeps tightening and the birds eventually lose their limb / limbs. They also lose their positions in the pecking order and sometimes their lives.
There was a time when Yellow-eyed pigeons migrated in large flocks but people hunted them down extensively. This species is now vulnerable to extinction. Pigeons were also used as live targets during Olympic shooting events. We have already lost the Passenger pigeon which once astonishingly had the largest migrating flocks in the world. It is said that their large flying flock was several hundred kms long. These were hunted down to extinction.
Also, people do not treat them well, throw away their nests, eggs and shoo them away. I have seen people running into a flock of feeding pigeons and I do not really understand why they do this. We ourselves don’t like to be disturbed when we are eating our meals.
Must we still think of pigeons as common and ordinary?