Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pigeons in the Flower Box

We had a pigeon nesting in one of our window boxes - I'm not a big fan of pigeons, neither is Kiki - she runs screaming from them when she sees them on the street - but this was one of those beautiful dove grey ones with the shimmery peacock-blue necks. I noticed her sitting in the soil one morning and she was doing a strange wiggly dance whilst rooting deeper into the depths of the box. I wondered if she was dying, or perhaps if she was giving birth. She looked distressed, but controlled. It reminded me of something. Kiki and I watched and later that night when we came back Kiki banged on the glass and the pigeon flew over to a window sill on the other side of the street. And sure enough, there was a pretty little white egg, about the size of the hole if you touch your index finger with your thumb. It was perfect.

The next morning we got up and ran to the window. The pigeon was there again in the same spot, looking still and proud and grand. Her feathers were perfectly smooth - she could have been made of porcelain. We wondered - what now? She ruffled her feathers slightly when Kiki moved, but she stayed. After breakfast we returned and saw that the pigeon was doing the strange movement again, heaving and puffing, her breast rippling and coiling. I slowly backed Kiki away from the glass. Peace, peace. 

It was nice that she had chosen our window. She obviously felt safe. I felt proud - like a midwife.

That evening we returned and there were two eggs in the little ditch. Kiki and I danced around the room. Two babies! We wondered how many more there might be. A dozen? We wondered what they might look like. And how long their gestation period was. Would we see them breaking out of the eggs like in cartoons? What do baby pigeons look like? Are they disgusting? How long does it take for them to fly? 

I could have looked all that up on the internet but that would have ruined the excitement.

The next morning our lady was there again, still and silent. She trusted us. I thought about giving her a little bowl of water, but that just seemed un-Parisien. She was a pigeon. She knew where to get shit.

We watched. We tittered. We ran to the window each morning. No more eggs, just the two. A still, careful mother. Mr Rabbit and I wondered what the sex had been like. We wondered how many other children she had had. How many babies does the typical pigeon have in a lifetime? Stuff like that.

It became part of our day, and we watched and watched and watched. We pulled the red chair up to the window and Kiki sat on my knee. The chair was carefully positioned off to one side of the window.

And then this morning when we awoke, they were gone! All of them! Vanished! WHAT HAPPENED? I couldn't help feeling like we'd had people staying and they had just cleared out without so much as a note. But moreover, I was worried. What did that mean? Had they been killed/eaten? Had they fallen the four flights down to the footpath below? Mr Rabbit peered over. No squashed birds. We couldn't figure it out. Are baby pigeons able to fly as soon as they hatch?

I'd had visions of waking to the cracks in the eggs, then the little heads poking out, then the little slimy babies in the dirt, watching the mother clean them off, sharing a glass of champagne with her and musing over our shared experiences, the mysterious joy of these strange new creatures just entered our lives. But she was gone - gone! I would never know what they even looked like. 

I'm so sad I won't know them. Will I, perhaps, in the street? Maybe one day I will be walking down the top end of the Faubourg St Denis and as the flock does its usual explosion into the sky two little ones will remain on that dirty bit of concrete and they will just look at me and I will know.

No comments:

Post a Comment