Hello. Welcome back. I've been wanting to do another Pigeon blog lately and finally have the time on this drizzly November morning. I recalled doing one at some point in the past and found that I did, just shy of a year ago (Nov. 20, 2015), see here. Kinda funny, huh?
Things have changed around here a lot in the last month or so. As fall migration occurred, once again Hawks have come hunting our neck of the woods.
As I key this blog, the backyard is absent of all birds except one Sharp-shinned Hawk hiding in the cedars down back. This bird has wreaked havoc on all the other visiting birds. I've watched it even attack the Pigeons who are much larger than this Hawk.
Sharp-shinned Hawk from earlier this month.
Then another Hawk has been coming in as well. A larger species who even drives out the Sharp-shin. This is a Cooper's Hawk. Notice the bloody foot?
I don't have any ill feelings towards these birds. They are doing what they do. I offer food to all birds it seems, even if it's birds for birds. Hawks do help keep populations in check, weeding out the sick and the weak.
I've not had to touch my feeders sometimes for up to 4 days or more. I do see birds come in, but it's a quick grab and they are gone again. The Blue Jays are sometimes here screaming at one of the Hawks watching over the yard. The Jays will fight the Sharpie since they are similar in size. The Jays will not fight the beast that is the Cooper's.
I'm missing my birds visitors. It's not been a blood bath here that I can see. I've only spotted one pile of feathers in the last couple weeks between our backyard and the properties on either side of us.
I'm sure missing my pal Pierre. Most stopping in to read my blog know this bird. He's been coming to visit for over 4 years now. I see Pierre about once a week right now, along with his missus. I've only hand fed him once in the last month. Even Mickey is another MIA bird for the most part these days.
He must be missing me and the yummy treats he can only get when he comes to me. Shelled peanuts and sunflower chips. His visits now are whatever he can find on the ground, searching with 20 or more of his species that fly in with him in the few minutes they do before flying off in fear. I can't get my shoes on fast enough to go outside and greet him. It is obvious they have food sources elsewhere though some argue they are totally dependent on me.
What is interesting is that while he and his flock stay away, other Pigeons are coming in, taking advantage of the food source and taking chances with these Hawks lurking about. These new visitors aren't naive, first sign (sight or sound) of danger and they quickly vanish as well.
A couple of the new visitors stand out from the rest, and here you can easily see why.
The majority of Pigeon visitors are the typical blues and grays, with the odd red one. White feathered birds are far less common to come in, for us anyway. I think they are easy targets as they stand out from the rest.
It took no time for these two to figure out a better food source by coming to my hand.
I named them Jersey 1 and Jersey 2. I couldn't decide who was #1 and who was #2 but I finally figured it out. #1 has black feathers under one eye. #2 has black feathers under both eyes. I'm so clever! Ha ha!
I've not tried to take any better photos of them with my better cameras. So far it's only been shots with the phone. I'm just digging their company so much. Pigeons really are very personable birds if you take the time to get to know them. As I've mentioned in the past, having the opportunity to watch a flock day after day, I easily recognize individuals even when to others they mostly all look the same.
There is something about Jersey 2 that has me wondering. See, a couple years ago we had a Pigeon who looked identical to this one. We had named it Gene because of the Gene Simmons (KISS) similarities. I happened to be outside one morning when I noticed all the Pigeons take flight, and out from the garden ran a cat with Gene the Pigeon in it's teeth.
This is the cat. It hunted our yard often one Summer. I yelled at it, threw things at it, I sprayed it with the hose so many times. The little asshole continued to return. Feeders were moved, many times only putting a small amount in for the morning while home to watch and then that was it. We knew it had owners one street over from us, but they left it outside. In time, the cat turned quite sickly, had a terrible eye infection, later on a very bad limp and then was not seen again. How anyone thinks this is being a good pet owner is beyond. Good thing we are responsible pet owners, Meadow was always fully vaccinated and didn't catch these diseases such sick animals could leave traces of in our backyard where Meadow roamed on leash and harness.
So ya, the little *expletive* had Gene in his teeth and was trotting off with him. I ran to help. The cat got over the fence, still with Gene in it's mouth. I had a broom with me and in my rage and upset I launched it in the direction of the cat. My aim sucks, which is probably for the better, and the broom went beyond the cat but it was enough to make it let go of poor Gene. The cat darted off. Gene sat there on the ground for a moment. I quickly jumped the fence to come to his aid. Gene took flight, fast and hard, and disappeared. We never saw him again. This happened in 2014. We feared he may have had a heart attack in the panic especially when he took flight, working his heart even harder. Are you familiar with the term "scared to death"? It is real.
Also cats carry a lot of bacteria in their saliva, enough to kill other living beings as it travels through their blood stream. So while Gene may have gotten away, the cat could still have killed him slowly. It can even kill a human if left unattended over time. Believe it or not.
I came across this photo of Gene, not the best angle but...
Here is Jersey 2.
What do you think?
I know talking with some wildlife rehab friends about this when it happened to Gene, some remarked that if there was a bird who could survive a cat bite, it would be a Pigeon. Not to make them sound bad, but they don't exactly live in the cleanest conditions if you know what I mean. They adapt and can withstand things so many others could not.
We so bad ass. Ha ha ha!
Here is Jersey 1 getting to know my friend Rob the other Saturday morning.
I'm having a blast getting to know these 2 birds. But it will be nice to see my old friends again, hopefully soon.