As a Man Loves a Woman
A few years ago, I found a bird egg in a flower pot on my balcony and, shortly after, went bird mad–raising generations of wild pigeons and bonding with their young. One incident revealed to me how much I dearly love these winged things that I was borrowing from the sky…
I awoke one morning to see, out of the corner of my eye, a falcon swoop down into our balcony and carry mama pigeon off the eggs which she was sitting on. This happened in an instant, the sky seemed to darken momentarily and the predator was off with his fast food.
Outside, everywhere, the signs of a pitiable struggle — feathers everywhere, and two unattended eggs, a day or so shy of hatching. Instinctively, I brought the eggs in, not sure how to keep them warm, when only moments later, a terribly beautiful (young) falcon returns, presumably looking for those eggs.
All piercing golden eyes & fierce talons… The falcon and I stared one another down for a short eternity, with hostility and respect, with only a thin screen between us — until the predator leaned into the sky and soared away. In that moment, I realized how protective I was of my winged friends, which I’d gotten to know over the past month or two and felt responsible for and, now, guilty…
I’ve heard it said pigeons don’t mourn, that it’s all about instinct – lose an egg or a mate, and they’ll just go find/make another. Or that wild birds don’t bond, it’s all about food.
Well, the remaining feral pigeon (poppa) was listless all morning, slow moving and out of it, over the loss of his mate.
I knew for sure something was wrong when he turned down his favorite snack (unsalted, raw peanuts) and simply sat on the balcony floor, all morning, at the opposite end of his abandoned nest. Just sat there staring ahead and occasionally standing up, facing me and cooing…
It was devastating and I did not know what to do. I tried putting the eggs on a hot water bottle, but they were abandoned all night… Poppa pigeon seemed spooked by the site of crime (flower pot nest) and hurried away from there.
Tentatively, he ate a bit when he saw me eating and, eventually, he found the energy to perch on the balcony railing, so he could better scan the sky. Meantime, I whispered to him like a madman: ‘that’s it, keep looking out and about. You’ll find a new mate and have more eggs.’
Then, miracle of miracles, momma returns, having survived the vicious falcon attack!
And, I realized, in the striking words of inventor Nikola Tesla: “I loved that pigeon as a man loves a women.”