The Callousness of Birds

Source: Wikimedia Commons

You know when you see a bird couple, you can just tell that they’re together. You look out your window and you see two doves pecking around on your lawn. I love how, when one bird feels like leaving, they just take off. They don’t tell their partner, “I’m going over there now. I need my space.” or, “I’m off to the parlor.” They just ditch their mate. And the other bird plays it cool and pretends to keep pecking. They don’t want to risk catching someone else’s eye and confirming that their moment of humiliation was observed.

“I’ll catch up with you later, Honey!” the abandoned bird calls after the other one. “I’m just gonna – I’ve got some more pecking to do. Over here.”

I’m a bird watcher. Not a birder, with binoculars and a dog-eared copy of the Big Book of Birds under my arm; more of an onlooker. I’ve noticed everywhere I travel, no matter the time of day or the weather, there’s always a male pigeon trying to impress the ladies. How can he even tell who is female and who is male? Does he even care?

He gets himself all worked up, puffing up his feathers, strutting, bowing, and cooing suggestively. Meanwhile, the other bird just keeps pecking away at the sidewalk. Eventually she’ll walk a few steps in the opposite direction, a blank look in her eye. If the wooer stays in hot pursuit, she’ll fly away. And the snubbed pigeon will try to play it cool. He’ll stop to peck at the ground. As soon as he notices another pigeon, he repeats the whole dance. Turns out that first dame wasn’t one in a million. He’s not looking for Ms. Right, he’s looking for Ms. Right Now.

I feel embarrassed for this guy, trying so hard to get with another pigeon – any pigeon. He’s not picky. He’ll even take the one with the big white splotches all over its head and feathers that make it look like other pigeons used it for a toilet.

“The thing is, Mack,” I imagine the lady pigeon saying to the wooer, “you’re basically a rat with wings. I could never find you attractive.”

“But you are, too,” he says, earnestly. “And I’m not complaining.”

“Eh,” she says, shrugging. “I do alright.”

The trouble is, the male and female pigeons are never on the same schedule. The man pigeon is always in the mood, while the lady pigeon always has a headache. He believes in shots on goal yet has never scored.

Pigeons will soon drive themselves to extinction.