Our Family Scrapbook

A bird in the hand…is better than a bird on your balcony.

A partridge in a pear tree? Not exactly!

It was December 1987 and my 20-year marriage had ended just a year earlier. Both of my children were teenagers at the time. My daughter had moved in with her boyfriend and my son was living with his dad. It was pretty lonely in my little apartment. Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas.

I was a full-time college student, putting every last bit of my time and energy into my studies so I could begin to rebuild my life. With the first semester over and classes over until January, I had more time on my hands than I wanted. It was tough being alone at Christmas. I knew I’d see the kids on Boxing Day, but in the meantime, my heart was aching for us to be together.

One evening, as I watched the snow fall onto the big tree outside my dining room window, I noticed a bird’s nest on my balcony. On top of the nest sat a proud-looking mama pigeon, all hunkered down for the night. In my melancholy (and, obviously, egocentric) state of mind, I truly believed that this was a special Christmas sign, just for me. A little baby bird would be born right on my balcony—perhaps on Christmas Day! How wonderful!

Come on, Mama Pigeon, keep those little eggs warm in your lovely little feathered nest.

For the next two weeks, I watched as Mama and Papa Pigeon took care of their unhatched babies. And then, Glory Be, right on Christmas Eve, two of the scrawniest little birds you ever did see, poked their heads out of the nest and screamed for food. It was glorious, I thought, a new life (albeit, a pigeon life) right here, on Christmas Eve.

Hi, little birds, Merry Christmas!

Over the holidays, I watched with excitement as the babies took their first tumble from the nest, followed a day later by a few wobbly steps. Soon, they were racing like miniature Roadrunners down the length of the balcony, flapping their wings for all they were worth.

Come on little birds, you can do it. Fly! Fly!

Ahh, the joy of it all! What a lovely Christmas present this was.

Pretty soon those little pigeons began to look like big pigeons. And, they began to do to my balcony what big pigeons do to balconies. This gang worked together to cover every inch of my balcony with poo, poo and more poo.

Come on little pigeons, fly away…far away!

Well, eventually, they did fly away, praise the Lord. But the story doesn’t end here. You see, pigeons like to use the same nest over and over. They apparently know a good thing when they see it…and the rent was free. So, Mama laid more eggs, Papa helped her care for them, and soon, more little “miracles” happened right there on my balcony.

Greedy bunch of freeloaders.

And the pigeon poo piled up.

Damn, dirty birds.

Around the fourth set of pigeon twins, I began having nightmares about being trapped in a big box of pigeon poo with a giant bird trying to shove worms into my mouth. I had reached my limit. I’d had it. I had to shut down this maternity ward/neonatal unit…and fast. I began watching their every move, and the minute the last dirty, rotten, ugly, scrawny, squawking set of pigeon twins spread their wings and took flight, I donned a mask and gloves, shovelled a path through the pigeon poo and shoved that mud ‘n straw shack into a garbage bag.

To the garbage chute. Run like the wind! And don’t look back!

At last, they were gone. I was free! No more pigeon poo. No more squawking for food. It took a while, but, at last, it was all over, and I could look forward to spring and Easter and flowers and little Robin Redbreast…what’s that…there’s a robin…on my balcony…with a piece of straw in her beak…

Arghhh!! Get out of here…stupid robin…

Originally posted on November 18, 2010


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