How do you know if you have pissed off a pigeon?

‘How do you know if you have pissed off a pigeon?’ is not one of the conversations I thought I would be having with Orbit.

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A towel stuffed in the end of the main sail cover and a bunny cord around it to secure it

It all started a few days ago, when to my horror, I heard a pigeon happily cooing on Medina’s solar panels. “It’s just a pigeon” I hear you say … Unfortunately, pigeons are like cardboard – they look harmless, but deeper, darker, more sinister things can come from them. In the case of cardboard it is cockroaches and other creepy crawlies. In the case of pigeons, it is nests, eggs and more pigeons.

So, on hearing the pigeon, I jumped up and told him/her to go away. But alas, not in the politest of terms. I must have looked like a crazy lady, waving my arms, using expletives and threatening the poor bird with a boat hook.

I have to confess it was not my finest moment. You see, I had just recently cleared a swallow’s nest from our boom and I didn’t want to repeat the process. I’m sure a good dose of bad karma is coming my way from the swallows whose home I destroyed. And I don’t want a another dose from the pigeons!

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The little fella is starting to get aggressive

Anyway, quite happy with my ‘go away and don’t come back performance’, I got on with life. Until the Skipper (as he was stepping off Medina to go to work), let me know that he had seen some pigeons coming out of our mainsail cover early that morning. And as he was speaking, one of them was sitting on our solar panels with a twig in its beak.

So, without any consideration of what I had to do or where I needed to be, I set about ‘pigeon proofing our mainsail and its cover. First, I checked that there wasn’t any sleeping pigeons or eggs, luckily there was only the beginnings of a nest. I then popped a towel in the end of the sail cover and wrapped it together with a bungy cord so the little buggers could no longer get in. My task was complete in under 2 minutes, thanks to my work of preventing the swallows from remaking their nest in the boom.

It may not be pretty, but I think it is working because I had two very, very pissed off pigeons. How do I know they were pissed off?

  1. They were giving me ‘the evil eye’ and even maintained eye contact!
  2. They were ‘getting physical’, yep, fluffing up their feathers, spreading their wings, I think they may have wacked me, if they were human
  3. They would not fly away when Orbit or I went on the transom to get a good look at them (unless I had my phone/camera to take a photo – that is just Murphy’s Law)
  4. They managed to poo as much poo as they possibly poo on our solar panels – thank goodness its been raining and so hopefully its washed off.
  5. They hung around for 2 days, yep 2 days, I am not sure where they slept, but by day 2 they were starting to make me feel guilty.
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I don’t think I’ll be getting a Christmas card off these two this year!

Given all the activity and hanging around, I thought I may have trapped an egg or something else of importance to them in the mainsail.  They are pretty clever birds, did you know they catch the Tube in London? So on Day 2, I removed the bungy and towel had another look (with a torch this time) and could not see anything but the same makings of a nest, which I removed the best I could.

Over lunch on Day 2, I explained to Orbit all the ‘pigeon behaviours’ that we had seen and why they were so pissed off at me. I also tried to justify my own actions by explaining that there were better places to build a nest and it was better to stop them building a nest now, rather than later.

The real message I wanted to give to Orbit was not ‘how do you know if you have pissed off a pigeon’ but rather ‘observe’ – we knew they were hanging around; ‘be kind’ – sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind; and ‘be aware’ – to watch how an animal moves, it will let you know how it is feeling, because unfortunately they don’t speak the same language as us.

So ‘observe’, ‘be kind’ and ‘be aware’, and try not to piss off the pigeons!

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