Shooting The Goddamn Pigeons
In honor of the on-going Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by the Audubon society, I’m pleased to announce that there are three less goddamn pigeons in my great backyard than there were yesterday.
Shooting the goddamn pigeons in my yard has been something I’ve been doing for the last year or so, ever since their population began to get way out of hand. My wife and I live on the Colorado River, which is sort of an interstate highway for birds of all types. We regularly see hummingbirds, eagles, ospreys, orioles, finches, tanagers, redwing blackbirds, and many, many others, including the goddamned pigeons. Hanging around our house are six normal bird feeders, as well as five hummingbird feeders that we hang in the springtime when the hummers begin to show up. We love birds, and used to enjoy waking up to their happy songs every morning. That is we did, until the goddamned pigeons began to show up.
Why goddamned pigeons began to appear here and where they came from is still a bit of a mystery. We didn’t used to have any, but one day we had one or two and soon after it became a dozen and not long after that it became two dozen and now there is even more than that, to many to count. The two main pastimes of the goddamned pigeons seem to be cleaning out our bird feeders, and engaging in pigeon coitus to produce even more goddamned pigeons. It may be that they first started coming around because of our horses across the street, for when they aren’t vacuuming up the millet in our feeders they’re over by the horses picking through their waste looking for an afternoon snack. If you are an aficionado of flies and goddamned pigeons, I suggest that you buy a horse or three, you’re guaranteed to have plenty of both. In response to the first group of pests, my wife undertook the world’s most comprehensive study of fly traps, to determine which is the best to way to eliminate flies. Since she wanted to have a big enough sample to make her study stand up to peer review, we now have approximately 11,321 different fly traps which stick, electrocute, maim, entrap, cook and poison the little germ vectors.
The goddamn pigeons have been another matter. For a long time I tried to ignore their increasing numbers, but they simply became to numerous to ignore. Not only to they quickly hoover up every scrap of food that would otherwise end up in the belly of some more deserving bird, but the riotous ruckus they make in the process of doing so wakes me up most mornings. The two things that I most like to hear first thing in the morning is the happy song of some little bird greeting the day over his breakfast, or the low murmurs of my wife wanting some lovin’. My least favorite sound to wake up to is the noise produced by some fat unruly goddamned pigeon flapping and cooing and banging into my bedroom window fighting one of its cousins over who gets to inhale the food in the bird feeder first. In addition to the cacophony the goddamn pigeons make, their battles often get our cats going slightly bonkers as well, and that tends to get the dogs up, which in turn means that in very short order, the whole house is awake.
Now, instead of filling the bird feeders before I go to bed at night so as to ensure some lovely songbird symphony, I leave them empty to I can get some sleep in the morning. This means that a lot of our nice birds have left, preferring to live their lives somewhere away from the goddamned marauding pigeons, and I can’t say that I blame them. So I’ve over the past year or so, I’ve begun doing some pest control, and have been shooting the goddamn pigeons with my twenty gauge shotgun. It’s very satisfying to watch them plummet to the earth and hit the ground with a thud. Its even more fun to let my yellow lab out into the backyard to retrieve the goddamn pigeon, for nothing please my dog more than to have a warm bird in his mouth, its like lifting a foamy glass of Guinness to mine.
Unfortunately shooting them is not as easy as it sounds, for they are very clever bastards. It used to be that after they woke me up, I’d just grab the twenty gauge, open a window, and blast one out of the tree or in mid-air as it lumbered away with its breakfast. They’re as fat as geese and not very fast. But now they’ve taken to stationing a lookout, and when I get out of bed they warn the ones who are feeding, and will fly off around the corner. There they wait until I go back to bed, and am almost asleep, before returning to resume their feeding frenzy.
This morning was a perfect example of that. I was woken from a sound sleep by what sounded like someone banging on the bedroom window wanting to get in. (Since our bedroom is on the second floor, that would have been no mean feat). I got out of bed, but the goddamned pigeons saw me, and scurried off. It’s hard to say for sure, but from the noise they were making I’m pretty sure that they were laughing. I went back to bed, and pulled a pillow over my head, but they were soon back, flapping and cooing and making the feeding squeak with the way they were making it swing around. That’s how the clever bastards get the remaining millet out – by knocking the crap out of the feeder to rain breakfast down upon their accomplices below. I got out of bed again, filled the feeder, and went back to bed, this time keeping one eye open for them. Soon they were back, and this time I let them eat their fill, so they might become even fatter and more complacent. As I watched them, I was amazed to see the clear vertical tube of feed visibly drop as two of the goddamned pigeons went to work. In response, they seemed to almost inflate like a pair of small balloons. Slowly, I rolled out of bed and crawled on all fours like a cat, over to the bureau where my twenty gauge was leaning. I carefully peered over the bed in front of the window, but when I tried to open the window to give them the Lee Harvey Oswald treatment they flew away, giggling wildly. I went back to bed and repeated this twice more, but each time they flew off just in time.
A change of tactics was called for, and the next time the goddamn pigeons came back I was waiting for them downstairs, just inside our sliding glass door. The problem with shooting them from downstairs is that this is where the labs sleep, and as soon as they see me with the shotgun in my hand they begin to lose it, for they know that very soon, they might have a warm goddamn pigeon in their wide, soft mouths. So the hardest part of assuming the downstairs sniper position is keeping them calm for long enough for me to open the door and blast one out of the sky. This I managed to do, and I slowly slid the door open just enough to stick my nose out to look up at the bird feeder hanging outside our bedroom window. Sure enough, two of the goddamn pigeons were up there snorkeling up what remained of the food. Our two Labradors were doing there best at shutting the hell up, and the effort was making them quake in anticipation. I slooowly opened the door wide enough to get my head, shoulders and shotgun out, and took aim at the fat goddamn pigeon who was furthest from my house. I had to wait until he took wing, so the bird feeder and the corner of my house wouldn’t be annihilated in the process.
Daisy our black lab couldn’t take it any longer, and barked. The goddamn pigeons took flight, and I squeezed the trigger on the one who had laughed the loudest, had him dead to rights. CLICK!, went the shotgun, since I had neglected to put in a live shell before beginning my morning’s efforts. Both goddamn pigeons flew off laughing harder than ever, and my dogs looked at me as if I was the biggest idiot they’d ever seen. They were used to me walking out the door and returning with birds or fish. To see me fail so utterly, standing there on the cold deck wearing nothing but a pair of Crocs, confused and disappointed them. I let them out to potty, and made busy in the kitchen until the goddamn pigeons returned. The dogs came in, the pigeons came back, but as soon as I opened the door a crack they flew off.
It was time to adjust strategy again. My wife’s assistant was due in soon, so I went upstairs, put on some pants, and put on a big green Eddie Bauer parka I bought years ago in case I ever go to the North Pole. I stood outside the sliding door and held very still, shotgun close to my chest. Soon the goddamn pigeons were back, but I held very, very still. The labs were back to full attention inside, but as long as the door stayed closed the goddamn pigeons weren’t bothered.
I quickly raised the shotgun and the fat bastards threw up their wings in surprise. The first one away from the house flew right into a dense pattern of birdshot and fell like a heavy stone. The dogs went ballistic inside, and I let my yellow lab Yuker burst outside to claim his prize. He was on it in no time, and began doing his prideful little walk, ears flattened forward and front shoulders doing a bulldog-like rocking gait. Later that morning I was able to shoot one more that was too fat to fly from the bedroom window. In the afternoon, most of the mob was on the cliffs above the horses, and I got a final one with my pump action in mid-air as he lumbered away.
The problem with shooting the goddamn pigeons is that every time you do, two more seem to appear. There seems to be an infinite supply of them, coming from god knows where. I’ve been turning my bedroom window into the Colorado River Book Depository now and then for the last year, but there are twice as many goddamn pigeons than there were when I started. So when the futility of the exercise begins to wear on me, I turn a blind eye to them, and just resign myself to filling the bird feeders as often as possible (all the while watching the goddamn pigeons get as big as turkeys).
But then some morning soon, there’ll be ten of them outside trying to break in again, and out will come the shotgun for some goddamn pigeon genocide!