Tag Archives: feral creatures

Lame Adventure 473: It’s Raining Rats!

On evenings when I return home to my sacred space straight from The Grind, my creature of habit routine is comprised of preparing dinner and eating it at my dining table while watching the nightly news on TV. After finishing my entrée, I transfer to the couch for dessert. By the time Phil Mickelson shows up to shill Enbrel, whatever the hell that is, the dynamic-less duo of food coma and sheer boredom have cast their spell and I’ve nodded out. Falling asleep at this point in the broadcast is convenient timing because it allows me to miss the sap-filled human-interest story at the end that always triggers my gag reflex.

On this particular summer evening I woke with a start remembering that I had to run a very important errand at my neighborhood Papyrus, the card shop. Next week is my colleague Godsend’s birthday. I reminded Stu, The Grind’s owner, that our graphics designer is turning 28. Stu reflected philosophically:

Stu: I have socks older than her.

Godsend is not only my colleague, but she is a valued friend, a close confidant and often, my collaborator.

Godsend and me looking film noir-ish at The Grind. Photo by The Boss.

Godsend and me looking very film noir-ish at The Grind. Photo by The Boss.

I had to find the perfect card for someone so dear, a card that combines the key ingredients of sophistication, wit, and good design. But, by the time I arrived, the store was about to close in nineteen seconds so I snagged one at half price from the What Were We Thinking bin.

As I walked south on Broadway, I noticed a small crowd gathered outside the Chase bank at the corner of West 73rd Street. They were gazing upward; many were smiling that goofy, mush-headed smile usually reserved for puppies, kittens, babies — anyone freshly hatched. Several were taking pictures with their smart phones. At first, I could not figure out what they were looking at, but I reasoned it probably was not someone attempting suicide. Then I saw it: a fluffy bird perched on the bank’s clock. It was my turn to flash a mush-headed smile.

Clock percher.

Clock percher.

As much as I love birds, if it’s not a pigeon, mourning dove or Thanksgiving dinner, I’m lost when it comes to identifying our flying friends. This critter was no exception so I bellowed:

Me: What kind of bird is that?

That opened the floodgates of response. It’s a red tailed hawk. Someone opined that it is probably a relative of Pale Male, a legendary red tailed hawk that nests at 927 Fifth Avenue, apparently with co-op board approval. He’s currently on his eighth wife. Maybe his name should be Larry King. Normally, these birds of prey nest in trees, but Pale Male plays by his own rules. Because the hawk atop the  clock is fuzzy, someone pronounced it a fledgling. Because it’s young, it’s still honing its hunting skills, which explains why it dropped its dinner.

Dinner. Freshly killed.

Dinner. Freshly killed.

That rat falling out of the sky is what first created the stir on the sidewalk. Had I witnessed that pre-show entertainment, I would have been so traumatized, I would have needed therapy. As I was snapping a shot of the rodent, a middle-aged woman holding A Serious Camera asked me:

Serious Camera Woman: Is it dead?

Me: I don’t think it’s going to sing Everything’s Coming Up Roses again.

She nudged its head with her toe, a gesture I found so repugnant, I bolted. Something about making physical contact with a dead rat gives me industrial strength willies. I also didn’t want to witness it spring back to life, even if that meant missing it channel Ethel Merman.

When I returned to my oasis, My Doorman greeted me. I showed him the pictures I shot of the hawk. He’s a bird enthusiast and said that many red tailed hawks live near 116th and Riverside. Like the hawk expert in the crowd, he also thinks it dropped its dinner because it’s in the learner’s permit stage of development. I reasoned that maybe it was for the best:

Me: How was he going to eat that rat? He wasn’t sitting on that clock holding a knife and fork.

My Doorman: He’d shred it. When they’re flying around, hang onto the Chihuahua.

Ingesting that factoid, I entered the elevator promising to keep that advice in mind.

"I'm so hungry."

“I’m so hungry.”

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Lame Adventure 466: Testing My Limits

It is no secret that I am fond of pigeons. When they perch on the sill while I’m at The Grind, I welcome their visits.

Hello there!

Hello there!

I envy their freedom, their swagger and their ability to fly. The irony that they are on the outside of the bars while I’m on the inside is not lost on me. Every so often, mourning doves come around, too, like this pair that visited last month.

Mourning doves hanging out.

Mourning doves that dropped by.

Following a Sunday outing with my friend, Milton, I returned home, entered my abode and noticed that I had a guest perched on my bookshelf.

Guest inside my sanctum sanctorum.

Guest inside my sanctum sanctorum: “If I stay very, very still, I’m sure I’ll be invisible to her.”

I have been under a tremendous amount of stress in recent months. Nothing bad is going on, but I have been extremely preoccupied both at The Grind and on my own time. Two days earlier, on Friday before heading to the subway to go to The Grind, I heard a rustling sound inside my non-working fireplace.

It didn’t faze me.

As I was looking at the guest perched on my bookshelf, my first thought was:

Me: Huh. When did I get a stuffed pigeon?

Then, my guest blinked. I thought:

Me: Holy shit!

Next, I called Building Management. They were home in Brooklyn. They were unfazed, too. They told me to open the window.

Building Management: It’ll find its way out.

Me: How long might that take?

Building Management: Hit it with a broom.

Me (thinking): No way am I hitting it with a broom and risk literally scaring the crap out of it all over the place!

Me (saying): I don’t have a broom.

I have a vacuum cleaner and a whisk broom with a plastic frog handle.

Frog broom.

Frog broom.

Next, I called Milton. He laughed for five minutes straight, then advised:

Milton: Put on your rubber gloves, pick it up and throw it out the window!

Me: Are you insane? I have to climb up to it, it’s going to see me approaching, that should freak it out and then it might fly right at me. I’ll have a heart attack!

Milton: Hit it with a broom!

What is this about people wanting me to hit this poor creature with a broom? I’m not a violent person, I don’t own a broom and I would never hit it with a vacuum cleaner. It occurred to me that it had been in my apartment for three days, probably perched on that shelf the entire time, traumatized in these strange surroundings. It might have watched me ride my spin bike. Seeing me huff and puff in spandex could have traumatized it further. Had it flown around then, I would have certainly had a seizure. It is perverse to think that I had been completely oblivious to a pigeon perched inside my apartment for 72 hours.

It also occurred to me that it had not had anything to eat or drink since it flew out of the fireplace. Because I was not anticipating its visit, I didn’t have any appropriate provisions on hand: birdseed, bagel or pizza. Therefore, I was forced to improvise. I poured pellets of organic kamut, an ancient grain, and some water in a bowl. I placed the meal on a magazine outside the open window, hoping that my guest would chow down, then take the hint and fly away.

My guest didn’t stir.

So, I whistled.

My guest didn’t stir.

I clapped my hands.

My guest didn’t stir.

I shouted:

Me: Hey Birdy, look over here! Food, water, an open window!

Food, water and a Stella Artois ad to crap on, if nature calls.

Food, water and a Stella Artois ad to crap on if nature calls.

My guest didn’t stir.

I took a roll of wrapping paper and tapped it lightly on the talon.

My guest stirred big time, perched briefly on my spin bike’s handlebars and then flew behind a stack of sneaker boxes in an attempt to hide. I cleared the barricade. It was terrified and tried to press itself deeper against the wall. I felt so sorry for it. Then, a piece of a metal fan stand I have been meaning to throw out for the past two years, fell on its wing.

I nearly suffered a stroke and feared that the wing had been broken. Quickly I lifted off the fan stand. Luckily, the wing seemed okay. I was so grateful that stand did not hit it on its head.

I swooped down with gloved hands and picked it up. Pigeons are rather light. Its wings were flapping frantically. I extended my arms out the window, opened my hands and as it started to fly away, a breeze blew the cord from my blinds out the window and the pigeon got caught in the cord. I feared that the cord was strangling it, but only its wing was caught in the cord. It freed itself and flew straight to a tree across the courtyard.

Out this wide open window Birdy flew!

Out this wide open window Birdy flew! Eventually.

We both breathed an epic sigh of relief.

I have not found a single dropping. It was a considerate guest.

But I really prefer you guys perched outside.

But I really prefer you guys perched outside.