Shocking news: The pigeon, is taking over.
If you do not believe me, just look at the figures from last week’s RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch survey.
In the past 35 years, sightings of pigeons in our gardens has increased sevenfold, or a horrible 743 per cent, while robins have reduced their cheeky, inquisitive appearances by 45 per cent.
I suppose there’s someone who welcomes a pigeon into their garden. Probably the same person who feeds them in Trafalgar Square before retiring out of range. But the truth is, pigeons are stupid, irritating, destructive and ugly..
I no longer have a vegetable garden. My pigeon problem is closer to home.
Worse still for us pigeon non-fanciers, they are quite capable of having several families, with two or three eggs per nest, in the course of the year, particularly when the weather is mild.
I didn’t always dislike them. In my childhood, I used to go out in the field and woods with my brothers who were shooting pigeons, and felt quite sad when they downed one.
I was fond, too, of reading stories about brave carrier pigeons that were such heroes in both World Wars. Even this year I was moved by the story of a World War I pigeon named Cher Ami that delivered his message despite being gravely wounded.
He was patched up and given a wooden leg, but died a year later — when it was discovered he was actually a hen, so should have been called Chere Amie.
In the summer I only have to take a deckchair and sit under a tree in a quiet corner of the garden for a pigeon or two to arrive over my head, clattering and banging among the leaves before embarking on a frantic cooing routine, which sounds more like a pneumatic drill.
The saddest thing about this rant is that I really do love birds. I would be prepared to love pigeons if there weren’t so many of them and they didn’t invade my garden.
The only place I am able to admire pigeons nowadays is in Chinese paintings whose artists somehow manage to turn their annoying plumpness into stateliness. They are often paired with peonies or flowering cherry trees, which they inhabit with a proprietorial air, little round eyes gleaming complacently.
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