NYC Wildlife: The Pigeons Outside My Window
My air conditioner, unused since the dog days of last summer, has recently taken on a new function. It’s a pigeon boudoir.
For days, the pigeon of mystery has been landing on the unit every few minutes with a long, slim twig in his beak.
He struts around, goggles at me through the glass and screen, then disappears. Moments later, he’s back, empty-beaked, to coo and strut before swooping down to the trees in the playground below. And in another minute, he’s back again with an almost identical twig sticking out of his beak like a long cigarette.
Sometimes the pair hangs out together, billing and cooing, carrying on like teenagers in Riverside Park. Occasionally a third pigeon tries to land, only to be chased off by one of the pair.
After more twig carrying, the twig-carrier lands on the air conditioner and begins to vibrate. With wings arched forward and beak open, he moves the area beneath his beak rapidly up and down, his entire plump body shaking. Only the solidly-planted red legs and feet are still.
After ten minutes of this strange behavior, the pigeon again flies off. Then with a great scraping of claws, both pigeons land. Cooing and bowing , they seem, well, excited.
And suddenly, wait a minute, what are they … what’s all that flapping … oh, oh, all right, yeah… my pigeons are going at it, they’re copulating, right there on my air conditioner, just inches from my desk. It’s over in seconds, too fast for me to grab my iPhone and take a picture.
Apparently, after mating, male pigeons clap their wings audibly in a display flight. If my male clapped, I missed it. But it probably looked something like this:
Later, the pair rests amiably on a nearby fire escape.
The next day, with more twig gathering going on, a friend visiting from Los Angeles makes a bold suggestion: open the window, stick your head out and look for the nest that is clearly under construction. A brilliant idea. I angle my head out, look to the right, and find two birds staring curiously back at me from barely six feet away.
I’ll be tracking the pair and their nest as closely as I can, given the uncomfortable viewing arrangement. (The picture above is taken by holding my iPhone way out, while hoping I don’t drop it to the ground six floors below.)
My friend suggests a periscope.
I’ll keep you posted.2010, April, Birds, In the City, Wildlife/Natural History comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.