Hello everyone! After 11 long days, Pierre finally came home. The day was Friday October 24th. I woke up that morning disappointed not to see him in the numbers out back once again. I had started venting my concern to some of my friends, not that anyone can do anything, but just because it was really bothering me. And as the days passed, I was really starting to believe he was gone. Was this part of the grieving process? I was just getting over the denial stage?
Angie couldn't do much to console me through the week what with our opposite work shifts... texts, email, quick phone chat, and that was it. It was either Wednesday or Thursday she told me she saw a dead Pigeon on the sidewalk at a nearby bus stop, the coloring was much like Pierre's but she couldn't say for certain since she was on the bus and she has a difficult time spotting him from a distance. I see him so often, it's much easier for me, plus a lot of it is his attitude. Usually it's just a matter of me putting out my hand and he comes without a word being spoken.
So, after breakfast, whatever morning that was, I ventured over to the bus stop and had a look. Call me crazy but only an animal lover could really understand this. The bird wasn't messy roadkill, just dead on the walk. I didn't need to see it for more than a second to know it wasn't Pierre. The coloring indeed was correct but the pattern was off. I do intend on blogging about how I tell some of these birds apart just by looking at them out back. Believe me, it's not easy, but seeing them almost daily sure helps.
Another morning earlier in the week there was a huge flock of Pigeons who flew down into the backyard. I estimate 40 to 50 birds. I thought for sure he was in there, but he wasn't. I was stunned at the number of birds plus how many new ones with unique colors and patterns. Pigeons really are good looking birds if you take the time to appreciate them. I got even more excited when I saw a red one. I thought "OMG! There's Red!" But it wasn't. I knew for certain once I had a good look at this bird's feet. They were lacking the string tangle and this bird had all of it's toes. If you never read about Red, have a look here He really was a nice bird.
I took a video on October 23rd, venting away as I feed the other birds. See here.
Now back to the Friday, I had just returned from getting some groceries for the weekend and I saw a small number of Pigeons atop a neighbour's roof. A quick spotting didn't give me any sign of him up there but my hope, draining as it was, was not lost yet. I left the shopping bags on the kitchen counter and quickly went out back.
The birds flew in, one by one, and as always, Pierre seems to fly in last. He's good like that! I don't know why, because he is king around here. Maybe he lets his subjects go in first to do the spot checks? Whatever, in he came, right to his spot outside our back door. He immediately began to vocalize to me, throat poofing out, and really telling me a tale. I love how excited he gets when he doesn't see me for some days. I often think of trying to video record these vocal moments, but today however, I was just too happy to see him and couldn't think about interfering our moment with a video camera. I did snap a couple quick phone pics for Facebook and Twitter after a few minutes.
Pierre is on the right, on my hand. The other bird took a perch spot on my right arm I extended to take the pic.
I gave my boy a good feeding but our visit was much too short lived. One of the Blue Jays let out quite a scream at the back and all the birds took off. Damn! Worse even that there was no threat. But everyone is on alert these days.
Our over wintering Sharp-shinned Hawk who I've named "Shirley" returned about a month ago. This is her fourth cold season with us, arriving usually in October and leaving again by March. I am 100% certain this is the same bird each year just because of her bold attitude. I've never encountered a Hawk like her before. She is not bothered by human presence by any means. The stories I have to share about her are something else (another blog I want to do). While she cannot take a Pigeon due to the difference in size, that doesn't mean she has not tried, nor will the Pigeons take a chance.
So off went Pierre and the gang. I have not seen any of them since Friday morning.
It's nice to know this flock is not taking any chances coming around with the threat of a bird of prey. And it's not just Shirley these days. We've got a Red-tail hunting Squirrels but her mate has taken a few Pigeons in the past. We have sporadic visits from Coopers Hawks throughout the year too. The worst time was maybe 5 winters ago where we had this she-beast of a Coopers who was snagging 3 Pigeons a week! This was the days before Pierre when I really only saw the Pigeons as nothing more than Hawk food.
Here's a few of our predators...
Male Red-tailed Hawk with a Pigeon wing outside our kitchen window. He caught the bird during late winter courtship and shared it with the female who was on the grass feeding on the carcass. The male would fly down and tear a piece off, then fly back up to the tree branch to eat it.
The "she-beast" Coopers Hawk one winter morning with her Pigeon meal.
We had a rat issue one winter, and this Red-tail discovered the bounty of rodents, and picked them all off one by one over a few weeks.
An all too familiar sight, and a sad one too. The Pigeons have not met such a fate here in a few years.
A Coopers Hawk I discovered in the cedar trees yesterday afternoon. What an innocent look about this bird!
And of course there is little Shirley who just puts the fear into everyone as well with her presence. Here she is with a Mourning Dove recently. I always feel sorry for the Doves, they are so slow. It's a good thing they mate 4x a year to keep their population up.
Now don't go hating the birds of prey. They serve a great purpose to the planet through population control of other species including rodents that nobody wants getting in their homes. They weed out the sick like a female House Finch I had a few years back with that terrible eye disease. The poor bird was going blind due to the crusting build up over her eyes. Eventually she would have been blinded and suffered a long slow death but a Sharp-shin gave her a very quick ending.
As I finish keying this on October 28th, I am seeing the first Pigeons of the flock in days.
Snake on top, Bully Jerk Face on the left and Mickey on the right. I really should change Jerk Face's name but he's such an aggressive large male that bullies everyone, even Pierre at times.
Of course Pierre is not in the small group that showed up; but with what has been going on, I have been reassured that he is keeping his distance from the threats out back. Stay safe little friend (and all his friends)!
Here is me not too long ago with Pierre. Ya, there's a bond here for sure. Talk about trust! I love this shot even if it is a grainy one from my mobile.
Of course, after I publish this blog, I see some Pigeons out in the garden, I go open the back door and in flies Pierre. He was vocal today but not with me, he didn't want to share me (the food actually) with the others including his lady friend. Video here.