Vermin: Part Two
by Ivor Tymchak
Pigeons are my nemesis, I’m sure of it.
Last year, a plum tree I’d planted years before in the front garden finally burst into blossom and I looked forward to the delicious fruits in September.
But one day, a month or two after the blossom, I saw a pigeon alight on one of the thin branches. This struck me as odd as there were plenty of other much older and sturdier trees to sit in only a few metres away. Then to my astonishment another pigeon also alighted on the plum tree but on a different branch. I watched. And the pigeons began to eat.
To my horror, they were devouring the immature plums, barely a centimetre in length. By the time I had got round to stringing CDs from the branches in an attempt to scare the pigeons away it was already too late – the tree had been stripped of all the immature fruit.
My loathing for pigeons increased to a level bordering on madness.
Then, this spring, in the back garden I noticed a pigeon sitting on my fence that runs alongside a row of leylandii trees that belong to my neighbour. The pigeon purposefully hopped into one of the trees. Intuition told me the pigeon was up to something.
On subsequent days I saw the pigeon again hopping into the tree and on one occasion it was carrying a twig in its beak.
This was bad news. I would soon be planting my vegetables in the back garden and the nesting pigeons would be perfectly placed to see them each time they emerged from the nest.
The first time I went up to the fence and leaned over to peek into the tree only a metre away I caught the pigeon sitting on the nest and in its panic it burst into flight straight at me (it being the easiest path out of the tree) and forced me to duck. I could see the nest was empty so my plan was to frequently disturb the bird in the hope that it would eventually come to the conclusion that the nest was in a dangerous place and abandon it.
But pigeons are stupid. Really stupid. No matter how many times I disturbed the pigeon it always returned. To give it some credit, it did figure out another escape route from the nest that didn’t involve a kamikaze dive straight at me - it slipped under some foliage and through to the other side.
On my umpteenth attempt to disturb the pigeon I had to shake the
rickety wooden fence to make it waddle off the nest, as by now it was
getting insolent in its tolerance of me. When it left the nest I saw a beautiful
white egg lying in it.
Oh-oh, I thought, now it’s got an investment in the nest, nothing short
of catastrophe was going to shift it now.
That’s when I plotted to murder a baby.
Oh sure, I tried hard to rationalize it, damned hard - there were millions
of pigeons, what difference was one unborn going to make? It was an egg,
not a hungry chick calling for its mother. The sooner I made my move the
easier the load on my conscience was going to be.
I waited for a shower of rain. I figured with rain none of the neighbours would be out and about in their gardens so there would be less chance of them seeing me. I wasn’t sure why I wanted the anonymity when I did my killing but I did. Again I went through the excuses: pigeons are officially vermin so there was probably no law in eradicating nests (or are all bird nests protected by law?) But that didn’t make any sense – if pigeons were vermin when accidentally caught and therefore required to be exterminated why didn’t that extend to every part of their life cycle?
I put all that out of my thoughts as I prepared my kit: a stepladder to climb over the fence and a hoe with a handle long enough to reach the egg with.
Rain began to fall. Time for Action.
I propped the stepladder up against the fence along with the hoe then climbed over. I could see the pigeon sat on the nest – it was ignoring me. It was only when I pulled the hoe over the fence and leaned in to get a good view that the pigeon decided it was time to leave. The egg was alone in the nest, shining a pristine white. I played the hoe out towards the nest, mentally calculating if it was going to reach. Yes, it was. I poised the hoe, ready to strike – this was the moment of truth. I thought of my vegetables, my plums…
The hoe fell. I was expecting a ‘chip’ sound and a cracking noise but all I heard was the hoe rustling the nest. I imagined I’d missed my target so I raked the hoe backwards and forward a couple of times to check my range. That’s when I saw a leaf of egg curl up over the blade of the hoe. I lifted the hoe and saw the stain of liquid on its blade. I must have pierced the membrane of the egg that was soft so didn’t make a sound.
Job done I withdrew the hoe and climbed back over the fence. Nonchalantly I looked around to make sure I wasn’t being observed. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so guilty.
Later, I went out to check the nest. To my horror, the pigeon was sat on it. It was incubating a sodden mass of shell, yolk and egg white – the stupid fucking… and why did I now feel like a piece of shit… oh for fuck’s sake!
I went back into my house and cooked myself some lunch. I chose a fried egg. As I unthinkingly cracked open the egg over the frying pan, I suddenly stopped and thought, ‘wait a minute…’
DISCLAIMER: Armley Press does not endorse cruelty to animals or destruction of their property.