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Are pigeons really sheep?

2004-01-09 - 3:10 p.m.

No, the title of todayís entry isnít some strange, existential question.

I was walking to work earlier this week, before it go so cold that my hubby decided that heís too fond of my ass to want me to freeze it off. As I was crossing the canal I looked over the edge of the bridge (say, thatís what I did when I saw the bread too Ė there must be a lot of odd sights below bridges) and saw there was some serious hurly-burly going on amongst the pigeons. They all seemed to be crowding around a small square on the ice, say, roughly the size of two-thirds of a piece of paper, pecking madly. And more were flocking to the spot with every moment that passed. I tried to see what it was that was so interesting. I donít think it could have been just water instead of the snow theyíd been having to eat; it had been cold enough for a few days that no open water remained. Besides, the indentation in the light dusting of snow seemed pretty shallow. I donít think it could have been seed or food as it was sufficiently far from the bridge or shore that any pellet-like things thrown would have scattered over a wider area. Nor could anyone have walked out and placed an object there; the ice wasnít thick enough yet and besides, there would have been footprints.

So what could have been the appeal? Why were pigeons flapping madly and chesting each other out of the way for the privilege of pecking at that small area? Particularly when, try as I might, I couldnít actually see anything worth eating there. Itís not like someone had tossed a piece of pizza on the ice or anything. Maybe those pigeons had a good reason and there was some delectable pigeon treat out there on the ice that I couldnít spot with my weak human eyes. But I harbour the sneaking suspicion that one pigeon picked that spot to eat some snow. Other pigeons saw the pecking and thought there was maybe food there and came and pecked as well. This brought more pigeons, and so on. Itís just a guess. I suppose Iíll never know.

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