Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pigeons, eggs .... and chicks

This morning, once again, on my balcony I found two white pigeon eggs reposing in a rough circle of twigs. By now I knew the drill – shut the door so the kids don’t get to see it, after they are safely out of the house, pick the eggs up with a scrap of newspaper to prevent direct contact with the shell, place the eggs on the ledge outside the stair wall, and hope that the birds get the message and do not come near my balcony again.

All this had to be done when the kids were out of the house, or I would be bombarded with questions- “Mamma, why are you picking up the eggs?”, “Can I hold the eggs too?”, “Mammma, if you put the eggs there, will the mamma bird be able to find them?”, “When will the egg break and a baby chicken come out?”, “Mamma, why can’t we keep the egg at home – I want to see the baby chicken coming out?”

How could I explain to a four year old, much less to a two year old that I did not want a nest in my house. That while it was fun watching the birds hatch their young, I could do without the filth that the birds left behind. That I needed the balcony to dry clothes in and could do without pigeon poo on my freshly laundered clothes.


A year back, I had not been a lot more tenderhearted and a lot less experienced. When the pigeon made her crude approximation of a nest on my balcony, I was pleased that she had chosen my balcony to lay her eggs in.

The kids and I spent many hours watching her sit patiently on the eggs. We used the time to talk about how birds laid eggs, and of how chickens came out of the eggs, and gradually grew into big birds. The kids had wanted to know if those were the same chickens they ate, and had to be reassured their chickens were something quite different. When the first egg hatched, it was all I could do to stop the kids from picking up that ugly bald chick and cuddling it. When the second one came – uglier and balder than the first – I had to physically drag the kids away to stop them from each claiming their own baby chicks. We watched the chicks take their first tentative hops, and were around when they first learnt to fly. Less than a week after they were born, the birds were off, but it took weeks for the smell of pigeon poo to be washed clean from the balcony.


No, I definitely did not want the pigeons again. Especially not after they started plucking off the tender buds of my plants, and left droppings all over my window ledge. I disliked them with a vehemence bordering on hatred, when they laid eggs in one of my pots, and while sitting over them crushed my entire lot of carefully nurtured muskmelon seedlings.

But how do you make two kids realize that pigeons can be quite a pest? You can tell them pigeons mess up the house, but when the little one says, “Dirty pigeon potty karta hai.”, the older one is quick to tell him, “Karne do. Let him.”

The best thing to do is to do what I do. Allow the kids to talk all about eggs, and chicks, and birds, and when they are not around just pick the eggs up and put them someplace else. They don’t even make pretty nests after all.


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