Lame Adventure 389: Did It Fly or Did It Die?

It is not a secret that I envy the pigeons that perch on the sill outside my window at The Grind. They fly wherever they want to go which sure beats riding the subway at rush hour. Here in New York, they always look well fed with all the free eats lying around. Often, I hear them cooing their birdbrains out indicating to me that they’re feeling pretty content. When they want privacy, they slip away to the air conditioner on the west side of the building and engage in pigeon-style tantric relations. This entails much wing flapping and flying feathers. I have also seen them lock beaks — pigeon-style kissing, which is an aspect of the mating ritual called billing here in the US and nebbing in the UK — for those of you inclined to read this site for its vast educational component.

On a recent Thursday, I noticed a pigeon huddled under the air conditioner in the building across from my office. My colleague, Godsend, is very aware of my bird watching.

Godsend: Are you looking at a pigeon?

Me: Yes, it doesn’t look good.

Sleeping or dead?

Sleeping or sick?

Godsend strained her neck for a look.

Godsend: I’m sure it’s sleeping.

Me: I think it’s sick.

Godsend: I think it’s fine.

For hours, that pigeon was perched in that same spot, immobile. Every so often I’d check on it. My glutton for punishment pal would ask for a report.

Godsend: Is it still there?

Me: It’s still there and it’s still not moving. It might be dead and we might be spending the next three weeks watching it decay.

Godsend: Don’t say that. I’m sure it’s sleeping.

Later, I returned and it appeared to be gone.

Godsend: Do you see it?

Me: No, it’s gone!

Godsend (genuinely relieved): See, it flew away!

Me: Wait a minute; it’s still there. The light was playing a trick on me.

The downbeat was audible from Godsend’s desk. It remained tucked under the air conditioner that entire day. The next day when we came in, it was actually gone. Godsend was massively relieved.

Missing or dead?

Dead gone?

Godsend: See, it did fly away!

Me: I think it was dead all along and it fell off the ledge.

Godsend: Don’t say that! Let’s think happy thoughts.

Me: Okay. Even if it did drop dead and fell off the ledge, at least we don’t have to watch it rot away for weeks on end.

Godsend remains convinced that it flew away. I am sure that it died. We cannot open our barred windows to stick our heads out to determine its fate, so fellow Lame Adventurers, as proven creative thinkers, what do you think happened to it?

58 responses to “Lame Adventure 389: Did It Fly or Did It Die?

  1. I think it got tired of being stared at and found a place with more privacy. Geez, a poor bird can’t even take a nap without peeping Thomasinas taking bedroom photos for world wide publication.


  2. Dear LA,

    To quote my crazy friend, Crazy Nancy, describing Dawn’s little white kitten, that lay, “dead as a chunk”, in Dawn’s small front yard near the main street of Sudlersville, MD, “He’s just rest’n, Bud.”

    Love the phrase “cooing their birdbrains out”!

    And of course I laughed out loud at your happy thought.

    Thanks, I needed a good laugh!

    Someday we’ll fly away.



    • I occasionally have dreams about flying right now, R. They’re much more pleasant than the ones about falling, walking around naked or suffering anxiety over not finishing high school. Give me the sense of freedom that flying entails anyday!


  3. Maybe it went to the great bird sanctuary in the sky, V. Birds do have a natural life-span and it lived a long and happy life?


  4. I agree with RGayer55–it probably got sick of y’all staring at it, AND not offering it some tea and a scone.
    C’mon, LA, you were raised better than that! I know this to be true!


  5. V, he definitely flew away. Realizing he wasn’t a city bird, he flew upstate. Maybe to Woodstock where others appreciate his laid-back attitude. And his need for munchies.


  6. Perhaps he needed more privacy and quiet so between bouts of vertigo and upchucking he flew to an expensive bird spa where he could be personally served to good health.


  7. Mmmm I think the bird thought it was visiting hours at the local zoo… You do have bars on your cage at the grind.
    He flew away after much ado about nothing.

    Mary Poppins. Haaa good one V


  8. You know that I’m a fan of pigeons. In my mind, a pigeon post is hard to beat. I’m gonna say the pigeon was sick at the very least. It’s definitely not like a pigeon to roost during daylight hours. I think your pigeon may have, indeed, died. RIP, Pigeon!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


  9. Dead pigeon strewn Apple. No doubt. But funny, nevertheless. I think it wasn’t a he but a she who was sitting on eggs and they hatched and the chicks (is that what baby pigeons are called?) grew up really, really fast and everybody flew away and lived happily ever after.

    OK, my mother did read me a lot of fairy tales when I was a hatchling.


  10. You’ll think me a crazy sentimentalist, but I always get a moment of sadness for the pigeons like this or the pigeons with bum legs. I found one in a similar state on the subway stairs. I wished I could have transported it to a safer spot.


    • I just hope that it had lived to a ripe old age in pigeon years. I do feel bad for the ones with mangled feet, too. Maiming them with those spikes might keep them from returning to building ledges, but it strikes me as cruel. I prefer the inflated owls.


  11. I think we’ve been over this ground before but I’m just too down to look up just when. But for you newer readers let’s take a walk down memory lane thanks to BBC1 (which will now explode).

    I thank you madam.

    Tell Coco I’m doing just fine. Simply preoccupied.


  12. I favor a compromise. I believe the bird died, but remained on its perch, where a carrion bird of some kind (do you have vultures in the concrete jungle?) found it and ate it. The cycle of life goes on!


    • Very National Geographic way of thinking Smak. We have hawks in the Big Apple, but I think the vultures are confined to their usual haunt, Wall Street.


      • I knew about the urban hawks, although it’s only within the last couple years I heard that. I’m not sure exactly why, but the idea of hawks in the middle of one of the world’s biggest cities (if you just count the First World, it’s gotta be in the top three) strikes me as so very, very cool.

        I’m not sure that hawks are carrion-eaters, so I don’t know if they’d eat a dead pigeon. However, I’m no ornithologist (I think that’s the “bird” one; hopefully I’m not denying that I’m a toenail doctor or something–although I’m not, in case you were wondering), so this, like pretty much everything I say, should be taken with a grain of salt.

        In that spirit, have you considered that the pigeon-snatcher could have been a CHUD or CHUDs?


        • Your way of thinking, Smak, might have just made you this site’s unofficial ornithologist. I did the research. Hawks are carrion-eaters and I agree with you that they are amongst the coolest avian New Yorkers. Pale Male is a living New York City legend. He has his own web site, Wikipedia entry and there have even been documentaries and books written about him. Someone shot a video of him as recently as two days ago. When that bird dies the flags will probably be lowered to half mast. If he ate that pigeon, NYC would say it went to a good cause.


          • Huh. I didn’t know hawks were carrion eaters. I would have thought that an NYC raptor would keep it Kosher.

            You know I have a fondness for cool appellations, and “Pale Male” fits the bill. Usually, local celebricritters usually have lame names like “Herschel” (the name given a few years ago to a sea lion who took up residence in the Ballard Locks in Seattle; Herschel’s fish-killin’ antics helped to wear out his welcome, and he was assassinated by the Man the next year).

            And armed with Wikipedia, I would make a great unofficial ornithologist. And in keeping with my long-standing tradition of using humor to hide my ignorance, if somebody asked me a tough ornithology question, I’d say, “Do I make you orni?” Everybody wins!


            • Being bigger and taller than most people would really work to your advantage Smak when you pop that question.

              That’s sad about Herschel. Sea lions eat fish! NYC hawks might not mind sampling a pastrami sandwich.


  13. Phil and I have spent hours poring over this. Phil says it got better. I am inclined to agree because I’m not sure, if it had popped its clogs, that it would fall off. I think it would quietly decompose there giving you your own private Z and two noughts experience. All you would need to complete the experience would be some music by Michael Nyman. Needless to say, the dog would have jetted out to join you. And bought popcorn.


    • If only Macaulay were in my office, Kate. Your terrier has a nose for creatures that have popped their cogs (excellent expression!) from miles away. Surely, his animal instinct would know exactly what was going on under that air conditioner. His salivating, donning a bib and pulling out a knife and fork would be another dead giveaway.Wow, even Phil wrapped his brain around this one! Say hi to your mate for me.


  14. I hope the pigeon flew away, LA. Maybe it was waiting for a secret meeting with one of its pigeon friends, and was just being discreet…


  15. Since I’ve been watching way too many of “The Big Bang Theory” reruns, I’ll postulate what you have here is much like the “Schrodinger’s Cat” paradox which challenged the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.

    Ergo, the pigeon could be both alive and dead at the same time.

    Or, maybe it’s just a good old-fashioned pigeon fetish.


    • Okay, I read the “Schrodinger’s Cat” paradox article. Now my head is spinning like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist. And I think I’m seeing a pigeon fly over two cats and die under one (dead cat). I have concluded: what a tragic time to be without any beer in the house.


  16. Pingback: Filthy Fowl | What's So Funny?

  17. I was thinking it was dead from the start … thus eventually landed with a thud.


  18. As just an amatuer birder, I don’t have the expert knowledge of avian behavior to offer any answer to your query. However, I’m more intriqued by your window bars that the pigeon. I’ve to admit, I seldom see bars like that from an office building window, albeit I’m sure every office in your neck of the woods (don’t mean to rub it in) have to have bars. I’m beginning to appreciate why you’ve taken up birdwatching from inside your office. Just seeing pigeons flying freely could be a most rewarding pastime while working. 😉


    • The window bars have confounded the many colleagues I have had for years, Arti. My office is on the fifth floor and the neighborhood consists of some of the most expensive real estate on Manhattan island i.e., super low crime. I suppose it’s comforting to know that no one is going to break in and swipe my boxes of breakfast cereal.


  19. I think he flew away during the night. He was probably just sick and tired of regular bird stuff, and taking a day off to rest was the best thing to do. I mean, I wish I could just sit and do nothing for a whole day, don’t you? People would wonder if I was sick, but it might just give me a chance to put my bird brain thoughts together. You never know… Oh, and I’m glad your breakfast cereal is safe.


  20. A cinematic feast. What an incredible resource to have all that at your fingertips: must try and see some of these, it sounds like you and Milton chose well!


  21. People think I’m crazy since when I’m walking on a sidewalk, I’ll move to the side so I don’t disturb pigeons. I don’t understand why people keep walking towards them and make them move. Can’t we all get along and be polite. I think it was taking a much-needed nap and then flew away happy as a clam–I mean bird.


    • Thank you for accessing your inner Rodney King in relation to getting along with the unofficial bird of Lame Adventures. I don’t necessarily walk out of their way whenever I encounter one waddling on the street, and they do waddle here in NYC since the eating is so plentiful, I try to avoid ruffling their feathers because they have the power to crap on me. Milton got dive-bombed and he did nothing to antagonize that one. As for that one huddled under the a/c, it never came back so whether it is pecking at the big bagel and pizza-filled bird feeder in the sky or it is continuing to crap the streets of Manhattan island freely remains one of life’s miniscule mysteries.


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