Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pigeons Deserve Respect

Pigeons deserve respect: Animals in the News
Posted by Donna J. Miller/Plain Dealer Reporter October 17, 2008

Ever cursed a pigeon? Called the urban dwellers dirty and dumb? Shooed them away like dandruff on a lapel?

Maybe Mr. Pigeon will change your view.

He lived in a cage, in a house full of cats, with an elderly lady who died last year. Cleveland Animal Protective League humane officers took the cats, but wondered what to do with the caged bird. Winter was approaching. The pigeon was accustomed to indoor temperatures.

They called me, knowing I care for rescued chickens and other farm animals.

Mr. Pigeon moved into my semi-finished basement. He didn't seem to mind the cage, but I hated it. I let him loose in one room, where he flew about and perched on shelves and a ceiling fan.

Occasionally, a cat sneaked in. I panicked, but Mr. Pigeon strode up to full-grown felines without fear. He got beak to nose. He pulled tails. He scurried between their legs and pinched their bellies, sending them fleeing.

I stopped worrying about keeping him from cats and enjoyed the winter months watching him rule the room.

In spring, I let him go.

He wouldn't leave.

He soared from tree to tree to the garage roof. Ate cracked corn with ducks and geese. Slept on the door opener mounted to the ceiling of the garage. Hopped down steps and pushed through a cat door to nap in the cool basement on hot days. Ate face-to-face with cats, whom he could read.

He swooped away from Louie and Taxi, who would do him harm. He went for walks in the woods with Thomas. He wrestled with Bruno. Yes, wrestled. I wished I had a video camera.

When I got home from work, Mr. Pigeon would swoop into the garage and land on my car, cooing. One day, he didn't.

I scanned the trees. There sat a bird-eating Cooper's hawk.

But maybe Mr. Pigeon's story can bring better treatment to the birds of Cleveland this winter, where they struggle to survive, not among natural predators, but among people and cars.

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