Posted tagged ‘pigeons nesting’

Yes, Virginia, There Really Are Baby Pigeons

June 2, 2012

In early May, a baby pigeon played peek-a-boo on my window ledge. This baby, not yet full-sized, huddled for hours on the window sill, peeping loudly in a tiny high voice.

Note the black eyes and scruffy feathers that indicate this is a young bird.

Every spring, I watch a brood or two of squabs learn to fly from a nest hidden between my building and the building next door. (To see an amusing video of the parents courting and copulating on my air conditioner in February, click here.) Although easy to mistake for an adult, this baby was still many days away from self-sufficiency.  In fact, you won’t often see a baby this young down at street level. Still dependent on its parents for food and protection, it spent days practicing flying from its sixth-floor nest to nearby ledges and rooftops and back again.

Mom and Dad stopped by regularly to feed the baby or just to keep an eye on me and make sure I was behaving myself.

Note the red eye and smooth feathers of an adult bird.

After a few hours, the baby flapped awkwardly off to its hidden nest, just a few yards away.  The babies are off on their own now, and I confess that after this last brood left, I finally decided to put up plastic pigeon spikes to keep future pigeon families from landing on my air conditioner.  I’ll miss seeing them there, but I won’t miss waking just after dawn to the scratch and scrabble of claws on metal or the booming coos of courtship.

And anyway, they still visit the window ledge.

For more on the pigeons outside my window, visit the archives:

Sex and the City Bird
Sex and the Pigeon

The Pigeons Outside my Window

Urban Fledglings

NYC Wildlife: The Pigeons Outside My Window

April 11, 2010

Pigeon of mystery lurks 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.

Pigeon with twig

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.

Pigeon with twig (the thin line to the left) checks me out.

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.

Vibrating pigeon

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.

Pigeon courtship: male bowing. Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project PigeonWatch; click image to visit website

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:

Post coital clap. Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project Pigeon Watch; click image to visit website.

Later, the pair rests amiably on a nearby fire escape.

How was it for you?

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.

Pigeons on nest between two buildings

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.

What are those pigeons up to?

I’ll keep you posted.


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