NBB’s Guide to that Bird You Saw: Pigeon
The Finale of our adventures with all the birds you really need to know, is, of course, the humble pigeon, or “Rock Dove” (which was a lesser-known single off Fred Schneider’s solo career. He doesn’t talk about it much), which is another bird that people hate because they’ve adapted to human civilization so very well. “Filthy things! Look at them, eating garbage!” as if their food supply, you know, fell off great orchards of invisible Garbage Trees, or simply blew into town like tumbleweeds made of Big Mac wrappers.
You gonna eat the rest of that?
But enough with the social commentary, let us consider the pigeon in and of itself.
The pigeon has two things going for it: one is their coloration. Pigeons have a remarkable color ranges: you see it a lot in our neighborhood, where I think the wild population has been cross-breading with racing birds. But even the normal, garden variety pidge has that remarkable iridescent ring around their neck and the blue-gray coloring.
It’s in flight that pigeons are really fantastic, that ungainly body swooping in large circles, great flocks of them covering the sky. Did you know that pigeons can out fly Peregrine Falcons? It’s true. And the reason why they’re so slow to get out of the way of cars is that they see things much faster than we do: it’s like you’re moving in slow motion—that’s right, it doesn’t occur to a pigeon that you might be a threat to it.
But I’ll grant you that the Pidge may not have the most well-thought-out shape in the avian world. It lacks the sleek sharpness of a Blue Jay or the petite uber-cuteness of a Titmouse. It seems to be made up large of bumps, like a stack of bowling balls in a burlap sack, jostling over each other. Walking, a pigeon’s body can’t quite seem to agree which direction it’s going: chest forward, tail back, head in a complete panic of falling over. And then there are the feet, with all the design elegance of a Soviet automobile.
So, you should give a bit of credit to the common Rock Dove. It’s bird you should know. But just make sure you never, ever let anyone know you admire it. They’ll give you dirty looks out of the side of their eyes, and walk quickly away, muttering… much like a pigeon.