Three rotund pigeons are marching in single file along the balustrade of our Room Outdoors. When I say “marching”, a better descriptive word might be “waddling.” I told you they were, well, a trifle
chubby. Not that I would ever partake in fat-shaming, you understand…
It’s the weekend of the Big Garden Birdwatch organised by the RSPB and,
as usual, my resident birds have forsaken me for other gardens despite the fact that I have invested in substantial quantities of sunflower seeds, suet balls and mealworms. Only the pigeons, magpies and a solitary crow descend on our garden over the course
of my hour’s observation. Where are the rest of you, I silently lament, when I need you? It’s not as if the trio of pigeons need extra food, in any case, not going by the look of them.
I will let you into a secret - I am rather fond of pigeons. Possibly because nobody else seems to like them; possibly because their behaviour makes me laugh. But mostly because when I see a pigeon it reminds me of my dear
Dad, writing about his childhood and seeing a pigeon on the landing at his tenement home. He didn’t understand at the time the strange feeling of loss which accompanied the sight of the pigeon; he only realised later that this must have been the day
his mother died, aged just 31, a victim of the Flu pandemic of 1918. He was two and a half years old.
I like to imagine that the pigeons which visit us
with such regularity are my parents and grandparents making sure we are all okay. I still remember the very first day our eldest granddaughter, when just a new-born, came to visit and one pigeon waddled straight up to the patio doors as if to make itself known
to the newest member of the clan. It’s a comforting thought - though not so much so for Mr B who finds the thought of being stalked (quite literally) by his in-laws extremely spooky.
What’s more, lest we forget, pigeons are known as Warrior Birds, carrying vital messages during the war into No Man’s Land (or, presumably, No Pigeon’s Land?) at great personal risk. Many died in the service
of their country - there is even a memorial to them in a local park in my home town of Worthing. Not everybody knows about it, which is a pity, though the mound on which the memorial is sited is always frequented by pigeons, presumably coming to pay their
res-pecks. Apologies for that!
For all I know, those three pigeons pecking away at the seed I have put out for them on my new ground feeding bird table are the
descendants of those wartime heroes and heroines. If there were such a thing as family history websites for pigeons - Find Your Past Pigeon for example - I would be able to check it out and afford my garden visitors the honour they are due.
I know what you are thinking, by the way. You reckon that I am making such a (bird) song and dance about the virtues of my resident pigeon fraternity in order to somehow mask the
miserable tally from the hour I spent on this weekend’s Big Garden Birdwatch. In total, one crow, two magpies, three pigeons…
I fear I have been rumbled….