Thursday, September 29, 2011

Can pigeons understand us?

Enjoying the last reasonably warm days of the year, I decided to have my lunch outside today.  It didn’t take long before I got the company of three finches.  They landed behind me on the ledge of a raised garden and sat there chirping up a storm, all the while eying my sandwich and moving their heads from side to side.

Who can resist such charm?  I certainly couldn’t, so I broke off three pieces of bread and placed them on the ledge.  Two of the finches hopped a safe distance away, but one stayed put.  He hopped towards the bread and started nibbling.

When the other two saw that the coast was clear, they too came hopping back and pecked at the bread.  When they were finished they started chirping again and turning on the charm with their little heads.  So I gave them some more.

When the finches belly was full (I guess it doesn’t take much to have their hunger satisfied) a pigeon took their place.  He too sat eyeing me, cocking his head and clearly waiting for some crumbs.

From experience I knew that, if I gave this pigeon something to eat, his friend would join him en masse.  Still, who can resist those little black beady eyes?  I certainly couldn’t.  So I have him something.  While he pecked at the bread, ten or so other pigeons landed at my feet. 
I gave the pigeon behind me some more and also gave something to his friends. 

The pigeon behind me got braver and braver, coming closer and closer, until he had positioned himself an inch or so away from my shoulder.  Even though I continued to feed the pigeons on the ground, he did not join them, but waited patiently for his share.

When my sandwich was finished and I brushed off my hands, I turned to my grey feathered friend and told him “All done.  See, no more.”
The pigeon cocked his head, looked at me and flew away.   

Had he understood what I said?


  1. I like to think so. I think that if we talk and think at the same time as if they could understand us, they will.
    Back in Michigan, I was once greeted by a skunk at my front steps when coming home from work. It was freezing cold with snow on the ground, so waiting him out was not an option.
    I told the skunk that I had to go up the steps into my house and if he could please let me by. He moved away far enough where I felt safe, I slowly went up the stairs and into the house.

  2. For a moment there I thought you were going to say that you invited him in. Well, it was cold for him too.

  3. Haha, I love animals, but ... He probably hung out in our basement and I caught him coming "home". It was an old Victorian house.

    One thing is for sure though, Gracie knows what it means when I say "bedtime, nite nite." It means for her to stop going NASCAR and settle down so Mom can sleep, and she does.

  4. LOL! I think he saw that the food was gone. Finches on the other hand are cute, noisy birds that don't ask much from us. Pigeons, on the other hand, aren't only greedy but they run in gangs. :)

    The skunk story was funny, Alex. One must always tread lightly around our stinky friends. You were wise to attempt direct communication.

    Sometimes, even not very intelligent birds will pickup on human "intent." At last that's what I think. Those of us who love nature must translate that somehow. Is Conny a "Pigeon Whisperer" or Alex a "Skunk Whisperer?" I guess the jury is out on that question. :-)

  5. Let's just call Alex and myself animal whisperers, because over the years I've had 'conversations' with quite a few two and four legged friends.