24 long days away, that's the longest he's ever been gone. But now he's back.
I don't think I need to explain who he is but I may attach a link to one of my other blogs about him for anyone new discovering my scribes about life with the animals.
I've been watching out for Pierre every day, scanning any Pigeon flocks that have dropped in. And believe me, there have been some huge numbers of birds coming in. My hope faded as the days passed. Such a long time away. So many Hawk strikes. Pierre is not a young bird anymore. In 4 days, providing he continues to return, he will hit the 42 month mark (3.5 years). And the fact he flew in here that first day, then literally walking into our lives, means he was a flighted and accustomed to humans kind of bird, maybe some months old, maybe a year already? He wasn't born here, cracking out of some egg and started out day one of his existence with us. According to statistics, Pigeons live 3 to 5 years in the wild. He's definitely on the higher end of time on this Earth. In around 4 years or more anyway.
But let's get back to yesterday, January 12, 2016.
I was home for the day, fighting a cold. I find it hard to sit still even in unwell moments. We just got over a slight snow storm, I had shoveled outside, both the front walk and a few spots in the back for the birds and critters. I put out a sheet of plywood where I drop all the cracked corn for the Pigeons. It's easier to clean off of snow than a spot on the ground. Corn pile set up, I go back inside. Shortly after the Pigeons start dropping in by the dozens. I'm looking. My eyes go bug eyed as I am almost certain I spot my boy in the mix. It's not easy to find one common looking bluish Pigeon in a flock of 30+ as they feed, heads bobbing up and down, birds shoving and pushing each other. Pierre has a distinct white mark on his right cheek that I always look out for even as small as it is.
I'm still dressed so it was only a matter of putting my coat and boots on. I step outside, trying to find him in the bunch. He pops his head up, sees me and I put my hand out to him. Pierre takes immediate flight and comes right to me. I'm talking to him, beyond thrilled to see him and things like "Holy *expletive* Pierre, where have you been? I've missed you!" I don't have any food for him, I was too excited about the possibility of seeing him and I left it inside. I said "come on, let's get you some food" and I turned to walk back to the house, with him still on my hand. Pierre takes flight and races me to the back door. He lands on his perch which is the post to the clothes line and waits for me.
Note, all photos are after we had our reunion and feeding because I left the camera inside. I wanted to see him, or if he was in the flock, and had no concern on getting photos, so the camera was the least of my concerns. But with the time we spent together, after a good feed and visit, I got the camera out and took a few shots.
I go inside and grab some of the good food which includes sunflower chips and peanut bits, all unsalted of course. Pierre comes for a feed. It didn't take long for some of the others to realize I've got the good stuff. I have a couple new hand feeders, much younger birds, and in they come. They push Pierre off my hand and try to feed. I push them off and call him back. Pierre comes right back to me. I pull him closer to my body and I turn us away from the flock and face the house. Pierre continues to eat. But young hungry birds are persistent and the others eventually have another go at trying to get the grub from me. A couple come in and once again knock Pierre off. I once again give them the "heave ho", I even stomp my foot this time and call Pierre in. The stomp spooks most of the birds and they flutter away from me. I don't know if Pierre knows his name, but he does watch me, and if nothing else, he probably knows my tone, and when I extend my hand out to him, it's feeding time. He immediately comes right back to me. We go through the same scenario a few more times. I felt bad being mean to some of the others but sorry, Pierre comes first, they can go eat the corn at the back.
After the feed and some belly rubs, he spent some time about the yard, wandering around, being all Pigeon like, strutting about.
While I am so happy to see my little feathered friend, I am sad too. I can see he's not the king bird in the bunch anymore. I noticed a significant loss in weight with him as he sat on my hand. I know I've kept him big and bulky with what I've fed him over the years and him not coming in for almost a month, plus prior visits have been less and less the last couple months (no thanks to them Hawks) have contributed to his loss in weight. In the bird kingdom, he's an old man now, and while he looks good, clean and healthy, he's not the dominant powerhouse he once was. The days of past, he wouldn't take shit from the others, he'd push them around and have his tantrums, cooing his head off, going in circles, chasing everyone.
Here is Pierre with Mickey. Notice the size difference? Yet yesterday Mickey pinged Pierre right off my hand like he was nothing. This is an older photo. Mickey is still about the same size, Pierre is still bigger but not quite as "full" as this.
I envision taking him in to live out his days, but that's only make believe. I can list half a dozen reasons as to why it would be wrong to do this. I don't think he'd be happy anyway. Would any wild and free creature like to suddenly be in confinements? It's like asking any human out there if they want to spend the rest of their life in prison.
I do hope we have many more visits in the coming days, weeks, months. I'd love one more summer with him out back. It was hilarious to watch him hog the bird bath. He and the missus would spend hours just sitting in the shallow water, not allowing any other bird in, and they'd preen each other, lift their wings towards the sun and just enjoy the dog days of summer safely in our backyard. We don't get Hawk activity in the warmer months.
Now let's try and not be sad about this blog with how it's ending. It is how life goes. Nothing lives forever. A lot of young Pigeons don't make it to adulthood. A lot of adult Pigeons don't live nearly as long as Pierre has. And most of them haven't had a blessed life like he has coming to me. Sure people feed them in the parks, usually bread or cheap dollar store crap seed. He's lived on peanuts and sunflower all his days with me and I've stuffed him to his heart's content every single time. He's got fresh water too if he wants, which is more difficult to find than food for any wild animal. And lastly he's got a friend in me. I always watch out for him while he's here, the best I can anyway. That's pretty awesome for a wild Pigeon, don't you think?
He does have a bit of a fan club. People about the world that know of him, the few who have met him, all root for him and continued good health. If only he knew...
Still one of my favorite shots of us.
He's a Pierre blog that may be a good starter for some.