#414: The Baby Pigeon Conspiracy

December 19th, 2014

Text exchange between subjects Paul D. (left) and Nathan I. (right), 8:13 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014:

A trillion pigeons in this city and I’ve never seen a pigeon egg.

Or a baby pigeon.

Or a nest. What the hell, pigeons?

They move and they mass and they huddle on eaves. They whiten statues and dive as one diseased flappy unit toward anything looking remotely like bread, crackers or cigarette butts.

Rock doves, Columba livia, flying rats: By any name they are the pigeons of Chicago, teeming birdflesh coating this town with feathers, gapeworms and poop.

But does anyone know where they come from?

It’s kind of creepy now that I’m thinking about it.

Maybe they get big fast. But that would only cover the babies. This IS creepy.

I think we need a PBS documentary.

Trivia column The Straight Dope has been answering the same question year after year since 1975: Where are the baby pigeons?

“My answer is always the same: the elusive little devils are out there somewhere; you just don’t see them because the nests are well hidden and because Ma and Pa Pigeon generally stay with the young for their first few weeks of life. This never seems to satisfy anybody, though,” possibly fictitious Straight Dope scribe Cecil Adams wrote.

Pigeons: Nature’s Greatest Mystery. You get a Blu Ray of it with every pledge over $50.

Narrated by Morgan Freeman.

“The pigeon is an adventurous soul, nature’s action hero.” (chuckles wisely) “And that’s just fine.”

How are we not producers? This sells itself.

There are approximately 260,000,000 pigeons in the world, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They’re on every continent but Antarctica, often in cities, living off discarded food and making small nests among city ledges and eaves reminiscent of the European and Middle Eastern cliffs they once called home.

Pigeons are monogamous, with both parents help raising the young, including suckling them with a high-protein secretion known as “bird milk.” Both male and female pigeons secrete the milk.

“Parents typically keep babies, or squabs, hidden and safe until they can survive on their own, usually a month after hatching,” Popular Science wrote. “As a result, youngsters are almost fully grown and their feather coloring looks nearly identical to an adult’s by the time they fly the coop.”

The most fun part would be trying to film it. I’m picturing the really intense cameramen from Planet Earth lying in wait with gigantic HD rigs by a hot dog bun dropped outside a 7-11.

You’re right. The ‘making of’ documentary would be better than the actual documentary.

“Yeah, I’ve shot ice floes cracking in the arctic circle, breaching whales in the North Atlantic, followed a single tiger through Malaysia for three months, but I wanted a challenge.”

In short, my friend Nathan and I are now looking for angel investors to fund “Nature’s Greatest Mystery with Morgan Freeman.”

It’ll be an immersion into the world of baby pigeons, from living at home way too long, suckling off Mom and Dad, to getting kicked to the pavement looking like, but not quite being, an adult with a passion for junk food and a fiendish disregard for personal space. Pigeons truly are “Nature’s YouTube Commenters.”

And (chuckles wisely) that’s just fine.

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