We love birds!

Rita McMahon found a pigeon with a broken leg on her deck in New York City’s upper west side. The pigeon was otherwise quite fortunate. McMahon would go on to cofound the Wild Bird Fund, which cares for some 3,500 sick and injured birds every year. A veterinarian amputated the pigeon’s leg; while it recovered, it would rest on a cushion in McMahon’s apartment window. On the other side stood her mate, day after day, keeping her company until she was released and the couple rejoined.

“They were devoted to each other,” says McMahon, who also recalled how one of her volunteers once found a broken-winged robin in a depression in a snow bank, his mate nearby. The volunteer picked up the injured bird and put him in a bag for transport to the hospital. With little fuss she then gathered the mate—which was quite unusual, as healthy wild birds are uniformly skittish. “I understand being able to pick up a broken-winged robin easily, but not one who’s intact,” MacMahon says. At the hospital, they learned that the break wasn’t fresh. The robin was in surprisingly good health. His mate, believes MacMahon, had been taking food to him on the snowbank, “and decided to stay with her man.” …

Apparent grieving exists in the avian world, most notably among greylag geese, in whom individuals who’ve lost a partner display the classical symptoms of human depression: listlessness, a loss of appetite, lethargy lasting for weeks or even months. The same applies to pigeons. On Pigeon Talk, a website of pigeon-breeding hobbyists, anecdotes abound of birds sinking into a funk after losing their mates, and sometimes refusing to take another mate for up to a year afterward—no small time for a species that typically lives for less than a decade.

One of the most moving stories involves mourning doves. After a dove was eaten by a hawk in the backyard of a forum member called TheSnipes, the mate stood beside the body for weeks. “I finally couldn’t stand to watch it any more and picked up every feather and trace of remains that was left there and got rid of it,” wrote TheSnipes. “The mate continued to keep a vigil at that spot though, for many months, all through the spring and summer.” …

Their example stayed with me, though, and now colors the way I think of my winged neighbors. Ubiquitous and unappreciated, typically ignored or regarded as dirty, annoying pests, pigeons mean something else to me now. Perched on building ledges, chasing scraps of food, taking to the skies at sunset: Each one is a reminder that love is all around us.

~ Brandon Keim, from “What Pigeons Teach Us About Love”


Thank you Susan.

Comments

  1. a loyalty and love without bounds-

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Makes me think of Cassiar calling for Canuck in Vancouver … beautiful essay.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    We Love Birds … ‘Their example stayed with me, though, and now colors the way I think of my winged neighbors. Ubiquitous and unappreciated, typically ignored or regarded as dirty, annoying pests, pigeons mean something else to me now. Perched on building ledges, chasing scraps of food, taking to the skies at sunset: Each one is a reminder that love is all around us.’ … Brandon Keim, from “What Pigeons Teach Us About Love”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I know…. We had, for years, TWO couples of love birds. One of them got eaten by one of the roaming cats of one of our neighbours, in OUR garden. It was a terrible sight but what was even more upsetting and unnerving, was the fact that the partner stayed in our garden for months, crying and lamenting. It’s all true! I too, took the destroyed bird away, packed it up in a bin bag and got rid of it, but the poor widow/er continued to mourn. It’s rather unforgettable and I made my peace with the doves after that. (They went truly on my nerves with their constant ‘song’ – not that good voiced as for us to appreciate. Their partners in crime were (also) two pairs of huge magpies. Their screeching was even more disturbing. Now the cats have taken over once more – I’m not a cat person but we never, ever had laid on any mice so I think we’re even. I let them have my garden, they keep the mice away 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If only we could understand bird talk more. I’d like to know what they’re saying. I know they have attachment feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely. So moving and impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I got Ring-Necked Doves that flirt with each other all day long right outside my window here at work. They are really lovely. Soft grey and rainbowthroated with white tail and wing feathers. There are four pairs usually. They bathe and peck and roost together.
    It only takes a glance to see which ones are lovers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Susan likes pigeons, too?

    Liked by 1 person

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