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Rated: 18+ · Non-fiction · Biographical · #2061694
This is a story that's for the birds.

Bird's Eye View
By Barbara E. Taylor

This is 100 percent true

Here is a story that is for the birds.

Tuesday morning my colleagues and I had Third of July Fever. That's what you get when the next day is a national holiday, you know you have the next day off, you know they're going to close the office early but they won't tell you exactly when, because they think you're going to lose your concentration, and besides, everybody brought treats in to work this morning. That's Third of July Fever. Ever had it? Some of the symptoms are loss of focus, lingering over coffee to gossip longer than you usually linger, dropping into other people's offices because you don't feel like going to your desk and digging in - well you see how it is.

I wandered into our HR VP's office to cha...uh, double-check something we had scheduled for Monday, cough cough and while we were gossi- discussing business, this bird comes screeching up to the building and lands outside of the window with a great flapping of wings.

My company's office is on the top floor of a suburban New Jersey office building. Ours is not a typical Jersey office building in the burbs. For one thing, it's pretty. For another, it's built on landfill in wetlands that abut the Passaic River. (When Hurricane Sandi hit in the fall of 2012, the building was closed for five days because the area around the building was flooded. It was there, it was fine, but you couldn't get to it and for some reason they refused to turn on the electricity until the water receded.) We have lots of wildlife around the building. I have seen rabbits, muskrats, deer, big snapping turtles, Canadian Geese, foxes, and there are always hunting birds in the air - several species of hawks, the occasional eagle. And yet we are situated with Interstate 80 at the back of the building and Route 46 out front. You never have to wonder about the traffic. Anyway, the building is rectangular, about 100' x 200' and the outside walls are 4 storeys of vertical sections of flat black glass alternating with vertical sections of white concrete. Except on the back side where there are windows set into the concrete section that have a 2-3 inch slanted ledge just wide enough for a bird to grab a perch if he lands exactly right and doesn't mind perching with one foot higher than the other. Which brings me back to the bird.

He arrived with such speed and flapping that we both turned to look and witnessed the landing. It looked like something out of a cartoon. One more flap and he would have smacked into the building. We immediately began to speculate about his intelligence. Which shows you how desperate we were for a conversational topic.

I'm sure you all remember the wonderful, historic peregrine falcons that were swooping and diving around the Custom House in Boston to delight Nancy and me - swooshing at 65 MPH, zooming at 200 MPH. This bird was the opposite of those falcons. In fact, this bird is a favorite food group for those falcons. This was a pigeon. Not an urban pigeon of bad reputation, but a streamlined, urbane pigeon of great sophistication. He was a beautiful shade of, well, pigeon gray, had some white - uh - bumps above his bill and white bars on his wings and tail. He also had bands on both legs. No, no, not musical instruments. Leg bands, one yellow, one blue. We were able to observe all this because once he had landed, he sat. One foot high, one foot low, clinging to the side of the building four storeys up. Alone. He didn't flap, he didn't fidget, he didn't flinch when we approached the window. We stared at him. He stared at us. In fact, he spent a very long time looking in at us. All he did was move his head so he could look at us first with his right eye, then with his left eye, then with his right eye....

HR's appointment came into the office and she also looked at the bird. Offered some additional comment. Wondered about his health. The bird looked at her too. I stayed because we were doing some resume work and this woman had worked for me, so we reviewed her work history and looked at the bird. Other people dropped in to see the bird. Half an hour goes by and at least a dozen people have stepped up to the window to look at the bird, but the bird hasn't moved.

By now it has occurred to me that this is no ordinary pigeon. Leg bands, buff physique, nice abs and pecs, tight butt, great color. He looks very sporty. He might be a racing pigeon or homing pigeon. Absolutely no fear of people. In fact, if you ask me, this bird was a bit of a voyeur. And if he was a racing pigeon, he was dogging it.

Finally one of the IT guys walks in. A Jersey boy, could play a lead on the Sopranos, we're talking a young Joe Pesci type, right down to his toothpick. "Yah, shur, dat's a racin' pidgin. See dem leg bands dere? Dat's how youse know." Removes toothpick from mouth and uses it as a pointer. "I usta go in fer dat myself, once upon a time." All heads swivel toward the IT guy who shrugs eloquently, nods, replaces toothpick. Two beats. All heads swivel back to pigeon, who has now been staring at us for almost 45 minutes. We start to wonder if he is racing now, where is he headed, are there a lot of birds out today? Was it a major race? Would CNN be offering coverage?

Being mostly female, we start to worry if the bird hurt himself when he landed, had he flown into the glass, was he dazed, could anyone read the numbers on the bands, who do you call to report a pigeon anyway? 9-1-1? ASPCA? The Audubon Society?

Just as this concern was reaching Third of July Fever pitch and threatening to spill over into action, our feathered friend gave us one last glance, shifted his weight, and flew effortlessly away. IT guy removed his toothpick to say, "Dere he goes. Headed west on Innerstate 80. Hope he c'n dodge da hawks at da gap."

That's the end of my little pigeon story for all you pigeons out there. I leave you with this thought. What if it wasn't what it seemed? What if this bird had been told by other birds that there was this cool exhibit, it was right on the way, he wouldn't have to turn off the highway or anything. He could have a rest stop and a lot of laughs at this cliff-like place on I-80. Kind of a tricky landing, but worth it. He'd be amazed how tame the inhabitants are, they'll come right up to the window and make faces and point and they'll go and get more of their kind if you stay long enough and wait them out. And, besides, it's free.

So what do you think? Was it really all for the birds?
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