Alegria A. Imperial / Peregrine Notes
Scraped to the bone on its back, lacerated breast and broken wings, and limp as a rag dumped into the trash, death could have been just a few heartbeats away three weeks ago in Panton, Galicia, Spain. But a woman taking out rubbish noticed a weak blink in its eyes, held it and felt its warmth: the pigeon a car had hit still breathed. The Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary responded to her emergency call. The vet’s prognosis didn’t sound hopeful, but the bird made it and after a few days of recovery, the pigeon could fly again, so concludes the inspiring report at Care2Causes.
I imagine Panton would be an old town or city where pigeons by the hundreds co-exist with humans, as in most North American cities such as New York and Vancouver. The pigeons probably socialize, as if glibly, too—skirting around pedestrian harried steps or landing on tables in al-fresco dining places to peck at food mostly invisible to human eyes, unless, of course, crumbs or birdseed a caring someone had thrown at them.
Yes, at heart still wild, urban pigeons, apparently find home in multi-story buildings that simulate cliffs, (home to their rock dove forebears brought to North America from Europe in the 1600s), where they roost, loaf and build their nest on ledges, under roofs and exposed beams. In a way rather romantic, I had thought on my first evenings in New York, how they cooed into my borrowed friend’s bedroom. Palm-sized, with their neat heads, all wearing heart-shaped marks on their beaks, how easy for them to bleed the heart when lamed, squashed on a road kill, or as in the rescued pigeon, dying.
If wont to think of the good deed by that woman and the sanctuary staff as a kind of misplaced mercy, you’re not alone. On the flip side of bleeding hearts, then and rightly so, have been enraged voices from business owners and institutions whose buildings had been ruined, or worst collapsed and burnt from pigeon droppings with their extreme acidity, also flammable nests; in a few cases, death by asphyxiation has happened, too, from ventilation clogged by layers of dense nests.
In truth, a kind of war between the doves and men has dragged on for years—quite a poignant thought, I would say, as these birds, once heroes in actual wars as messengers, have turned into pesky enemies. Killing them by shooting, poisoning, and trapping has been thought as an easy option but had boomeranged as Nature always balances itself; in the void left by death, more birds appear. Also, among animal-rights activists and environmentalists ever on the watch, no life whatever its size should be destroyed or left to end without a chance—really a humane cause.
Years of steady search for solutions to shoo the birds, though, seem to have gained back for humans some space. Like on my last visit to the library, I had missed the swarm on my feet; the lame ones still came around nonetheless, limping on stumps. An elderly woman, who, like me, had watched the imperfect birds, thinks their claws get snagged in nettings and double wires installed as humane bird-barriers where they perched, or on the now-visible porcupine-like Dura-Spike on flat and curved ledges. If barred, apparently, they just look for new homes or go back to the wilds.
Still, because as non-migratory birds, no laws protect pigeons, inhumane practices of eliminating them keep turning up, one recently involving a US senator in a game of shooting them, claimed as a fund-raiser. For me, indeed, pigeons and men, though both of the wild, the latter having the power to chose otherwise but would always give in to cruel tendencies, prove less of who they should be. Fortunately, bleeding hearts yet abound.