Welcome to Fun Friday, where I attempt to brighten your day. Today, a story of a perfectly rational woman and her slow decent into madness. No, really, it’s funny.
Lockdown is for the birds. Literally. The only ones having any fun are the pigeons. It’s mating season, hence the “fun.” In fact, all the birds have gone plain cuckoo. Chirping, cavorting.They perch on our balconies and mock us. Ha, ha suckers. Look who’s caged up now?
Maybe I wasn’t paying attention before, but the pigeons are starting to come to my ledge now, which they never did before. They sidle up to me, real close like, and give me the ol’ one-eyed stare. They coo their howdie-dos. How you doin’?
That’s not the crazy part. The crazy part is that I’ve starting cooing back. “Hey, there, li’l guy. Whatchu doing? Whatchu doing on my ledge? Huh? Huh?” They crane their feathered heads to look at me, the crazy lady talking to birds. Cuckoo-cuckoo.
I watch the males chasing the females. “You gotta give up,” I say. “She’s clearly not that into you.” But they keep on trying, and the females keep walking away. Social distancing. “Dude, you’re being so hashtag me too,” I tell one relentless suitor on my ledge. He looks so handsome all puffed up, but the female is having none of it. Maybe she’s into bad boys.
I’ve become so involved in the lives of the birds on my street that I’ve started to name them; Pidge, Mr. Crow, Peepers and Squeaks. I’m envious of my neighbor across the way because a young pigeon couple has chosen one of the empty terracotta pots on their ledge for a starter home. I see the female nesting in the pot, her hubby standing guard at the edge of the ledge. All that birdie entertainment right at my neighbor’s window, and they aren’t even there to enjoy it. I’m currently hatching a plan to lure Mr. and Mrs. Pigeon to my side of the street. I’ll get a bigger pot for my ledge. “Plus, I have western exposure,” I’ll tell them.
My mother loved birds, too. She like to watch them frolicking in the yard from her large kitchen window. In the winter, she fed them from a feeder hanging on our big maple tree. My father complained that she spent way too much money on birdseed. She had a guidebook that she kept on the windowsill beside a pair of 19th-Century opera glasses. I have those opera glasses now, but they sit in New York where they are doing me little good. Oh, the birdwatching I could be doing with those. Then again, my neighbors might find my peeping a wee bit disconcerting.
It’s even worse on my walks. I stop to talk to birds of all kinds. This one guy was hopping and fussing in the grass like a fool. Digging for bugs, maybe, I don’t know, but I took a video anyway. I’ll check with Audubon later.
So this is where I am, kids. This is what’s it’s come to. The Birdlady of Paris. I can see my twilight years now: in the park all day, sitting on a bench feeding pigeons, chit-chatting to the chirpers. It’s good to have a retirement plan, don’t you think?
Epilogue: Mr. Crow, is cawing as I write this. He comes by once a day at exactly the same time—12:11 p.m.—perches on the large street lamp mounted across from my window, his enormous black body dwarfing the pigeons on the ledge below. He’ll sit for about a minute, then swoop downward toward an unseen destination. Every day the same thing. It wasn’t easy getting this photo. He always takes flight the moment I approach the window. He must be a celebrity, or something.
A bird named Baby
For a few months, we had a foster bird named Baby, a lineolated parakeet, or linnie for short. We found Baby on the street during a cold and wet winter, near death. With the help of a bird specialist, we tried to nurse the orphaned bird back to health. Baby was super smart and had a huge personality—funny, impish, affectionate—and we fell in love with her immediately. Sadly, Baby’s respiratory illness did not relent, and we lost our little birdie. But for three months, we gave her a good life. I took this video of Baby while she hung out on my shoulder, something she did every day while I worked at my computer. I miss my little buddy.