It was spring, and the young Red Oak tree was proud to say it was growing tall. Its  lovely red leaves were unfolding and spreading out, and it longed to grow as tall as the bigger Red Oaks, that elite group of its “seniors” whose branches made a beautiful red canopy above.

They whispered and giggled and told secrets to each other, their leaves rustling in the wind. The young Red Oak usually missed out on these conversations, because it had been too small and too much of a sleepy head. Now that it was awake and growing each day, it was almost the size of the older Oaks, and it was looking forward to being a part of the “club”.  “Welcome, Kid”, said a good natured Red Oak tree that stood a little away from where it was. “We’ve been watching you grow. You’re lucky you made it this far!”

“Lucky?” said the young Red Oak, a little puzzled. “Why do you say that?” The older Oak tree shrugged. “Ah, you wouldn’t know. Do you see those Great White Oak trees, growing tall above us?” The young Red Oak squinted upwards. It saw for the first time that there were several bigger trees that towered tall over the beautiful Red Oaks, atleast a hundred feet in height. They were more in number as well. “Oh!” gasped the young one, “These are numerous! And huge! But what does that have to do with us?”

“Well, you’ll see quite soon”, said the older Red Oak. “Now that you’re tall enough, and aware of your surroundings, you’ll see what keeps us Red Oaks from prospering in this land”, it said mysteriously. No sooner had it finished speaking when there was a curious rumbling sound that reverberated through the North American forest. The sky seemed to darken as if thunder clouds were looming over the horizon. The rumble soon grew into a cacophony that became louder and louder, and soon the young tree could make out the source of this noise: an enormous flock of pigeons, so many in number that they covered the sky like a dark blanket blocking out the sun, was making its way towards them.

The flapping of the wings of thousands of the pigeons seemed to sound like the flapping of the giant wings of a single unearthly monster. The hungry pigeons attacked the Red Oak trees with a force that surprised the young tree. It was still small, and didn’t have acorns yet— the fruits that Red Oaks usually bore, but that didn’t stop the birds from settling on its tender branches, weighing them down heavily. The rest shuffled through its leaves and branches, and not finding any food, contented themselves with trying to gorge on the acorns of the bigger Red Oaks.

The young tree glanced at the older Oak that was trying to fight them off, trying to toss its branches about a bit. But the stubborn pigeons stayed on, feasting on its acorns and nestling in great numbers on its branches, all the while cooing and pecking and tittering away. Elsewhere, they heard a loud crack, the sound of a branch breaking due to the weight of the birds. A while later, when they had had their fill— or rather, when they’d eaten up everything they could find, the pigeons flew away, again a hurricane in the distant horizon.  “Passenger pigeons!” the older Red Oak said in disgust.

“Do you see what they do now? They lay the Red Oak trees bare with their appetite. They are too many, and too greedy! Our acorns carrying our seeds for the next  generation of Red Oak trees, all eaten up by those gluttons!” Some of the other Red Oak trees murmured their agreement. The young Red Oak looked up at the White Oak trees. They were untouched. “Why don’t they forage in the White Oaks for food?” it asked.  “The White Oaks have acorns that germinate during autumn, and the pigeons breed then”, said the older one.  “They are safe for now. But this is what goes wrong for us Red Oaks. And just look at the amount of droppings on the forest floor! If a fire breaks out, we’re done for!”

“Why, what about the White oaks?” said the young Red Oak. “Won’t they get hurt too, in a forest fire?” “They’re resistant to fire”, said the older Red oak.  “Aren’t these the birds that I heard, are used by humans to carry messages?” said the little Red Oak, trying to recollect what he had overheard somewhere from someone. “Oh, you’re getting confused!” said the older Oak, “those are carrier pigeons, or messenger pigeons. Those ones can find their way back home alright. Much more sensible.  And intelligent. Not crazy like these ones. Now you’ll see the native Red Indians coming to kill some of these silly birds sometime soon.

Sometimes I wonder if they are as crazy as the birds. They hunt the birds for the meat,  then offer the meat to their deity, and then there’s this elaborate ritual, it’s quite funny actually—” But before they could say anything more, the sound of a gunshot rang through the forest. “What was that?” asked the little Red Oak, but it couldn’t ask anymore as several gunshots were fired into the stillness of the forest, and the wild pandemonium caused by fluttering wings and bird squeals reached them. “Looks like it’s the White people who’ve moved in around here newly— they have something that’s used to fire at the birds. All you have to do is, point it upwards and press something, the birds are so many that atleast one will be hit and killed”, muttered the older Oak tree. “I hope they finish them all”, it added, under its breath.

In the following days and months, the little Red Oak tree grew taller and stronger, and as it did, it started noticing that the Passenger pigeons were no longer coming in flocks. Their number had come down drastically, while the number of hunters had gone up. The older Oak tree and the other Oaks that stood some way away in the distance were overjoyed by this development. Several new Red Oaks were taking root in the forest, thanks to the acorns being left alone by the dwindling number of Passenger pigeons.

Only the little Red Oak tree missed them bit. It had not seen enough of them, and it seemed like it had taken root at the dawn of a new era with the disappearance of the Passenger pigeons. It grew to be one of the biggest Red Oaks in the region, with numerous other Red Oaks all around, having managed to outnumber the White Oaks after all!


About Pigeon Patrol:

Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.

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