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« Peripheral Artists (1): Albert Edelfelt | Main | Housekeeping »

November 02, 2005

Pigeon Guy

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

In my former neighborhood lives an osteopathic doctor who used to put on his running togs and jog four or five or however-many miles every morning before going to work.

All this running must have caused some sort of damage, because now he puts on his running togs and just goes for a walk.

Often, I see him carrying a bag of food for a flock a pigeons that hangs out at a freeway overpass not far from the housing development. Depending on when he's on his walk and when I happen to be driving by, I sometimes see him actually feeding the birds. Occasionally I see him with a push-broom brushing away dried droppings below where the pigeons perch on the freeway supports.

He really takes good care of those birds.


I have no idea why he does this.

Perhaps he really, really loves pigeons.

Or maybe he isn't especially fond of them, but figures what he's doing is good for the surrounding area which includes a large supermarket where crumbs from Starbucks' cookies and other bits of food of potential pigeon-interest drop onto the parking lot. The idea being to keep the pigeons close to that overpass and not roaming the parking lot or, worse, the nearly neighborhood where he lives.

The straightforward way to satisfy my curiosity would simply be to pull over and just ask him why he babies those birds.

But it would be a little embarrassing to do this, and the payoff isn't quite worth it. Plus I kinda relish the ongoing oddness and mystery of it all.

Can any of you offer some theories?



posted by Donald at November 2, 2005


Donald--my mom does the same thing. Damn pigeons (we named them "Bill" and "Coo") made a nest and laid their eggs on our balcony.

Posted by: winifer skattebol on November 2, 2005 10:21 PM

Did you know that the pigeon is the only bird that, from a purely Federal law perspective, has no limits to the time, number, or manner in which one may kill them, for sport, food, or as 'nuisance removal'? Or even just for the hell of it, so prolific are they.

Oh and that pigeons are genetically the same as doves, they are just different sized breeds of the same species? (like a chihuahua and a newfoundland are both dogs that can interbreed if you/they can manage the conception).

Ah, the things you know that you never wanted to when you used to be married to a wildlife rehab/bird freak!

Posted by: David Mercer on November 2, 2005 10:53 PM

It's the running. Everyone knows excessive running, regardless of the space age shoes one is wearing, shakes the brain excessively. His doctor must have finally convinced him of the neural damage all that pounding the pavement has done to his mental capabilities. That explains the damage; his hook onto the pigeons is probably related to the low level cooing that the pigeons have been serenading him with over the years. He's in their power; how else would you explain the fact that he's SWEEPING their dung?
That's why I stay inside away from subliminal animal sounds and outdoor exertion. It could only bring you to a meltdown.

Posted by: DarkoV on November 3, 2005 7:51 AM

It is an established fact that running is very bad for the knees, but no doubt Darko is right about the brain as well. You would think an osteopath would know better.

Posted by: perroazul del norte on November 3, 2005 8:46 AM

He's fattening them up for the winter. Probably has a few good recipes in mind. They taste better after having been grain fed for a while.

Posted by: rmark on November 3, 2005 12:28 PM

He speaks fluent Pigeon, obviously. They give him love, and he knows it. No one else has to understand. He does, and it's rewarding.

Simple enough.

I say ask him. He sounds eccentric enough to be my friend. Ask him if he would like to be friends with me, also. I can tell him about the bird wires.

I love it when people do things like that. The mystery is delicious, isn't it?

Posted by: Introspectre on November 3, 2005 2:31 PM

I'd ask him if his name is Doolittle. Maybe he has a duck for a housekeeper named GubGub.

Posted by: Deb on November 3, 2005 3:20 PM

There's a fellow in my city who feeds meat to the crows. "Yeah, they're great birds, crows. Clean up all the dead things."

Only one step away from the Charles Addams cartoon in which an Uncle Fester-like character feeds scraps of carrion to the vultures.

Posted by: Chris Burd on November 3, 2005 5:01 PM

Does running really do brain damage? I can almost believe it

Posted by: Rob on November 3, 2005 9:02 PM

I applaud your refusal to just pull over and ask. And how could you know his answer was true?

Perhaps this part of the birdman of underpass's life jes growed. Maybe he enjoys watching them, and that's how it started. Maybe his dear, long-departed granny fed and looked after pigeons when he was a lad, telling him stories about working in the barnyard of the old country and so he continues with this. Or maybe he has a plot against Starbucks, staring with that local store, and the birds are part of it.

(In any case, knees are no damn good. Running can pound them down, carrying extra weight will crush them, inactivity ruins 'em. It's hopeless.)

Posted by: j.c. on November 6, 2005 1:57 PM

Pigeons are doves, Rock Doves to be precise. The concrete jungle that is modern life is just like their native rock cliff habitat which is why the have adapted so well.

Mike Tyson, the wacked out former? boxer is a big pigeon fan. He was in the news recently about his pigeons because the city of Phoenix wasn't too keen to him brining his birds to his new home there. In NYC, he kept his pigeons on a roof top.

To this day, the best arm chair shrinks on T.V. have yet to figure out Tyson.

Posted by: AP on November 10, 2005 4:09 PM

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