From a couple of years back:
Tap tap tap tap.
There it was again. That insistent tapping at the window. Then the cooing sounds. The flutter of wings beating against the windowpane. It was 8PM, and the pigeon was back. Every night, at about eight o’clock, he arrives at the second floor dormer, within view of the spot on the couch where I tend to recline like a decadent Roman to watch the TV, and he taps and flaps and coos. Like he lives here and wishes, as might your pet cat, to come back in, please, and what’s for dinner? He does it, I’m convinced, to remind me that he’s still here, and still thriving, him and all his pigeon pals, living their best lives, and pooing their most voluminous poos, relieving themselves at high frequency out there on the roof, and all over everybody’s decks, and skylights, and anything else not tarped or sheltered safely under a roof.
It’s a taunt, you know. He’s taunting me. Like those Second Amendment gun nuts with their come and take it memes, he’s saying come and get me. Give it your best shot, monkey-boy. It’s an old psy-war tactic. Solitary, interloping enemy aircraft have done much the same thing during various wars, flying over friendly lines at night to drop a couple of bombs, just to piss you off, and remind you that the bad guys still have an air force. Bed-check Charlie, the grunts on the ground usually called him. So I’ve got my own pigeon Bed-check Charlie, tapping his insolent little taps with his nasty little beak. He knows there’s not a goddam thing I can do about him, because we’ve already tried everything, everything legal anyway, but he’s still there every night, saying howdy-do dumbass, and see you again tomorrow, say around eight or so.
Tap tap tap tap tap. Flutter. Coo, coo.
A little history:
A few years ago, when this blog was new, and we’d just taken possession of our summer place in beautiful Mahone Bay, I posted all sorts of columns and photos about how great it was to be here (and it is great), but there was one discordant note, struck loudly by a gang of local pigeons. Maybe gang isn’t the right word, though they carry themselves with the anti-social swagger of a crew like the Hell’s Angels – maybe horde is better. Or teeming swarm. Our multi-unit condo building at the water’s edge was practically buried under a flapping, defecating biomass of highly contented, obviously well-fed pigeons. The old blog post pasted above was my anguished, though (if I do say so myself) wryly hilarious, account of the problem, and the farcically ineffective steps being taken by our condo corporation to do something about it.
Under siege, we hired the experts. That’s what you do, isn’t it, hire the experts? That’s the obvious solution, right? Certified pest control wizards they were, too, uniforms, shoulder patches, power tools, carbon fibre extension ladders, trapping gear, the lot. They deployed in force. They met the enemy. Battle was joined. They had their heads handed to them. After a few weeks of trying everything in the book, they skulked away, beaten, sullen, and not even bothering to charge us – that’s how badly the birds whipped their lavishly equipped, expertly trained asses. It was humiliating. The pigeons were invincible. They conquered all, then shat upon the corpses of the vanquished. Thus ended 2019.
Well, we’ve just returned after an enforced, almost two-year absence imposed by the pandemic, and, well, The Moorings at 575 Main St., Mahone Bay, is still Occupied Pigeonistan, and we’re still the tenants of the flapping shitbags that de facto own the joint.
The detritus of the prior conflict still litters the battlefield. I’m looking at some of it right now, as I type. A cage meant to trap the critters sits empty, covered in guano. Behind it stands one of the once-vaunted, silver-polished pigeon-bothering devices, bothering me, certainly, but not the birds; you see, among the sophisticated yet utterly ineffective pidgie countermeasures deployed at the outset were these spinning pyramids of polished aluminum on poles, wind-powered, which on sufficiently sunny, robustly breezy days produced a sort of flashing strobe effect calculated to drive the birdbrains to distraction and prompt an involuntary flight response, wearing them down and forcing them eventually to relocate. They were 100% effective. We were assured of this. Yeah. As it worked out, of course, the reflective dazzlers, while blinding to humans (including not just we in the condo, but motorists up to a mile distant), bothered the pigeons not a whit, especially on those days, not unheard of in the Maritimes, when it’s overcast and rainy. Here’s what they look like now – this one’s canted over at an angle, for some reason, and won’t spin, so it doesn’t matter how breezy and sunny it is…
…and this one just seems gummed up (maybe with pidgie poo) and won’t spin as intended either, unless, I suppose, it’s really, really windy, you know, Beaufort Scale windy, in which case the pigeons would have bigger problems to deal with than the light bouncing off of a stupid metal disco ball. What with climate change and all, we’ll probably have another hurricane soon, and then we’ll see. Meanwhile, most of the time, it just stands there looking stupid, maybe performing a slow quarter turn every now and then:
It’s just sad, isn’t it? It actually looks forlorn, standing out there on the roof, doing little and accomplishing less.
And here are some of the boys, big, fat, dumb, and happy, sitting practically on top of one of the disabled pigeon-startlers, visible just above the highest pigeon’s head:
They’re just so gosh-darned content to be sitting there, all plump and relaxed, shooting the breeze, you know? So very much at home. They don’t just sit around, though. That’s not their entire repertoire. No, day in, day out, at odd intervals all the live-long day, they fly around tracing figure-eights over the building, taking their exercise, defecating on the fly, and making that annoying flappity-flap-flappy noise they always make. This is the scene, repeated endlessly, throughout the daylight hours:
They sometimes whip by pretty close to your head. It’s disconcerting.
Apart from flapping around, evacuating their insides, eating, and presumably making more pigeons, about the only thing they seem to do is moult. Their feathers are everywhere, and drift on the air currents to land all over everything, like gently falling snowflakes, which is no big deal until one winds up in your drink; God only knows what sort of greeblies are native to pigeon feathers, and I’m not looking to have the coroner figure it out. Thus you can only look sadly at your nice full glass of Pinot Grigio and dump it down the sink. Safety first. I’m waiting for one to waft up my nostril while I gaze contemplatively out to sea. Then I’ll probably die of some avian parasite, or new strain of coronavirus. I’ll probably be patient zero for AVIAN SARS-COVID 21 Alpha, and so much for the AstraZenica, dude, sorry, this new bug just blows right past the antibodies.
Look, I’m not saying the pigeons ruin the whole experience of being here. I wouldn’t say that. That’d be a bit hyperbolic. Still…
Tap tap tap tap tap. Flutter. Coo, coo. Enjoying your TV? Good, good. I’m still here though, and I know who you are. By the way, there’s a target on your head.
A couple of nights back I had one of my bright ideas. It occurred to me that the principle behind the rotating metal pigeon-annoyers might have been sound, it was just the execution that was weak. So I broke out a brand new LED flashlight, the kind that produces an incredible amount of light, which came equipped to flash in a sort of dazzling stroboscopic mode that was disorienting enough, according to the adverts, to stun human intruders and put them to flight. That sounded like just the ticket! Shock and awe! I couldn’t do much about the whole colony on the roof, but by God, the next time that one sneering bastard came to the window to do his tappity-tap schtick in the twilight, I could stand at the top of the stairs and give it to him right in his stupid little bird face, thusly:
Yikes! And the video doesn’t even do it justice. It’s blinding. The first time I tried it out, Kathy shrieked at me from across the living room to make it stop, and it was broad daylight. Perfect! This, finally, would show the bastard. This, surely, would give him the start of his stupid pigeon life. Maybe it’d sear his optic nerves. Maybe he’d have a heart attack. Maybe he’d stroke out. I champed at the bit to give him both barrels and find out, and soon enough, right on schedule, he gave me my shot.
Of course you’ve already guessed what happened. Nothing much. He stared right into the withering blast of photons and cocked his pigeon head this way and that, as if to say how curious, while the light cast enormous pigeon profile shadows on the clapboard of the opposing dormer. After about half a minute, I gave up. Then: tap tap tap tap.
Back to the drawing board. Meanwhile, that’s Mr. Pigeon to you, monkey-boy.
Supplement: 8:15, Friday August 13: caught him in the act. Wait to the 12 second mark. He did this for about 20 minutes.