Tuesday, October 12, 2010

White Bird and other things



One of my faithful readers is also an OCD nit, she likes to track any promises I make and hold me to them or as she says: "I only bug you to follow up on things I am interested in." Apparently one of those things comes from a post last April where I observed a bevy of white birds in my neighborhood. Actually they tend to flock three or four blocks west of here and each time I walked down there after spotting them, they had vanished. This weekend I got a 'white bird' reminder from my friend and avid reader, then this morning there was the brood flying around down the street.

I first watched them wheel about in the area the size of ten or twelve residential blocks, this seemed to me to be the same relative area they had covered when I first noticed them. Either they had taken the summer off or I just haven't been as avian observant lately. First there were five or six birds but soon the rest of the drove rose up to join them. About a dozen in all with at least two thirds of them white as snow. Finally about half of the skein lighted in that same evergreen tree and the others on a double span utility pole. The pole was clearly visible so I peered through my super binoculars and saw six birds (four white) very clearly but what were they? We must have our labels.

I tossed on the sneakers and headed out hoping to catch them. About a block from the house I saw them in flight again but they often liked to double back so I kept after them. Here I was a humanoid on foot chasing birds on wing, next week I chase down roadrunners in Arizona. Just as I was feeling a tad stupid, I came out from under a big olive tree and there was the utility pole with nine birds perched on it. Six were indeed pure white and one of the other ones was clearly a standard, everyday rat-with-wings pigeon (bottom row center in the picture above).

Seeking verification of this congregation, I asked the store clerk on the next corner about the birds, he looked at me like I had asked for live tarantula ala mode. The homeless guy saw me looking up at the multitude and told me they were -- "the birds of peace." This piece of information comes with neither citation or nor corroboration. 

I did a little net research when I got back, here is what I found:

The difference between doves and pigeons is mostly size. Doves are generally sleeker and smaller with pointed tails, while pigeons are larger and stockier with rounded tails. The common urban pigeon is also known as a "Rock Dove." The popular white dove releases at various celebrations are billed as "dove" releases, but ethical companies always use white homing pigeons, as they return home.

Ethical in that they do not release tamed doves into the wild to fend for themselves. Ethical, not so much, in that they can sell them over and over again, well Viva Capitalism! 

By the way, I was unable to use army, assembly, cloud, collection, colony, company, convoy, crowd, crush, drift, drove, gaggle, gathering, group, herd, host, legion, litter, mass, pack, progeny, rout, scores, throng and I would have liked to have worked in an exaltation of larks or an ostentation of peacocks.

3 comments:

indigenize said...

IMO, daring to feel stupid in the pursuit of beauty is a mark of a fully-lived life, and one definite path to wisdom.

Your post reminds me of a scene from my favorite movie ever, Harold & Maude, in which she sees dazzling white birds from her jail window. Later, she learns they were "just pigeons," but to her, they will always be glorious birds.

Viva la rock dove.

- Tina

indigenize said...

IMO, daring to feel stupid in the pursuit of beauty is a mark of a fully-lived life, and one definite path to wisdom. Congrats! :-)

Your post reminds me of a scene from my favorite movie ever, Harold & Maude, in which she sees dazzling white birds from her jail window. Later, she learns they were "just pigeons," but to her, they will always be glorious birds.

Viva la rock dove.

- Tina

Anonymous said...

We have an abundance of roadrunners here in New Mexico that you could chase. Why not kill two birds (pun intended) with one stone and stop by for a visit -the welcome mat is always out.
(southwest) Lee