Last Friday, I stepped out on my front porch to see if my hanging flower baskets needed watering. As I reached up, a bird flew from off my porch swing and onto the fence. I think we were both startled.
But what startled me most was realizing that this bird wasn’t a crow, a chickadee, or robin….
My husband just pulled into the driveway and I motioned for him to come up to the fence quickly and quietly – I thought he better get a look at this. And then of course, the kids came and saw it. Strangely, it didn’t fly away, but just stared at us, blankly. My parents arrived shortly after for dinner and yes, the bird was still there. Dad had this grand idea of catching and holding the bird (for what purpose, remains unknown) – but during this unsuccessful attempt, my husband realized the bird had a tag on its leg.
Now the speculation began!
#1 “Maybe it’s a carrier pigeon and the person who finds the bird wins $6 million dollars!”
#2 “Maybe it’s a racing pigeon from New Jersey.”
#3 “Maybe it’s someone’s pet.”
The last option seemed the most likely, but also the most boring, so I held onto the slim chance it was Option #1. After some Googling, we found a place to enter the tag number, so we hoped someone would contact us about the pigeon. At this point, it had been chilling by the birdfeeder/front porch for a few hours. He didn’t much look like he had a mind to go away. In fact, he seemed particularly fond of our porch swing, perhaps because he liked to perch on the bar.
As I went off to bed that night, sure enough, he was still there.
“He looks so sweet!” I told my husband.
“Well, if we can’t find the owner, do you want to keep it?” he asked.
I really had to stop and think this through. We’re presently not a pet family – I just don’t think I could add “one more thing to care for” in my life at this point. We had a cat once, years ago, with somewhat disastrous results (which I’ll spare you the details of). I found myself torn – he was sure a cute little pigeon, and how hard could he be to care for? And yet – I’m not so sure I wanted to be an Accidental Pet Owner.
The next morning, I came downstairs and took one look at the green poop all over my porch swing and decided NO, I don’t want to be a pet owner. The bird, however, was still not gone. He had now moved onto the beautiful custom arbor my husband built – and yes, he was pooping on that too. Even more bizarre and ominous, were parts of a dead chickadee on the ground, right under where he was perched. Now I don’t believe pigeons attack, and we do have a cat in the area, but still. Not a good sign.
Now I was starting to get a little frustrated.
I found my pal Keri on chat, “Keri, you won’t believe the situation I have going on over here!”
“OH NO! What’s going on?”
“Well, it’s not what you think… it’s a pigeon.”
I found myself referring to the pigeon as “the situation” I was having, so I decided at that point to actually name him The Situation. To which Keri retorted, “see? He is from Jersey then.” Brilliant! The Situation it was. (But of course, it needed a tan, so…)
About this time, someone emailed me the name and contact information of the owner. Turns out he didn’t live in Jersey, or even that far away. He lived down the street. AWESOME. Unfortunately, the phone number I had wasn’t correct and he wasn’t at home when I drove by, so I left a note on the car in their driveway AND on the front door. After all, this was an emergency (sort of). Bird had to go!
Fortunately, the owner called me not long after and came up to the house. Only one slight problem. HE COULD NOT CATCH THE BIRD. He even brought another homing pigeon to try to “chase” it back, but it didn’t work! At this point, The Situation was perched atop my roof. So the owner left me with a cage and said at night if the bird got comfortable, he might go in there at which point I could close the door and call him.
I stood there crestfallen in the driveway as I watched the owner drive off.
But then I began to think about it. Wasn’t one of my BIG gardening goals to attract birds this year? Maybe at the very least I should applaud myself for creating a perfect ecosystem for birds. Shoot, I keep the bird feeder regularly stocked, the birdbath with fresh water, and apparently my arbor makes a great roosting spot.
The thing is, I was hoping for certain birds – hummingbirds, chickadees – not pigeons. Was I nothing more than bird racist? Like, “I’ll feed YOU, but not YOU?” Or maybe the issue was I wanted to care for wild birds, not people’s escaped pet birds.
As the afternoon wore on and The Situation still hadn’t cozied up to its digs (which yes, I’d put fresh food in for it in hopes of luring it in), I found myself at a low point. Now I do consider myself a lover of animals, but even my patience will go so far. I began to think of ways of scaring it away… first I found a couple recordings of hawk noises on YouTube and cranked them up, but The Situation didn’t even flinch. (Two different hawks, too!)
I tried scaring it with a broom, but he only flew up to my roof again. And then flew down a few minutes later. I even tried spraying some water at it, but there again, it didn’t move.
At one point, he was eyeing the neighbor’s pool and even managed to fly over towards it once or twice. I’ll admit it, I *might* have hoped he’d find their pool area more desirable so they could deal with it for awhile. Or at the very least, so I could commiserate with someone about The Situation.
Every now and then I’d head back out to the garden, hoping upon all hopes he’d found somewhere else to go… but nope. There he’d be. On the fence. On the arbor. On the birdbath.
There was only one thing left. Good, old fashioned prayer.
So while I was on the phone with my mom complaining about The Situation, I noticed that he was IN THE CAGE. I told my mom, pray, pray, like you’ve never prayed before – she told me she was on it, and I hung up the phone.
Very, very, oh so carefully I approached the cage… the bird was definitely in it, but he had that wild eye like he might fly out at any moment…. but BAM! I closed the door up!
I, Angela Russell, had caught The Situation. (Thanks Mom, for the prayers!)
Of course, I called the neighbor like 10 seconds later. I think he was equally surprised I’d caught it. I definitely was relieved to have ended things pleasantly, but I did ask (as nicely as I could) – what are the chances the bird would be back?
The neighbor assured me very slim and that he wouldn’t release the bird again, until it was much older. After a big sigh of relief I headed inside, grateful for a pet-less house.
And that, my friends, is all about the time The Situation came to visit.