Pigeon-Shit Tale of Shitty Side of Berkeley South Side

by Steed Dropout
Aug 3, 2012


When did the pigeons come to Berkeley’s South side?

Was it the year, some South-sider made with the bread crumbs alongside the copy shop that is now a restored historic building at Dwight and Telegraph?

After the crumbs crumbled, the walk was scoured, and the intersection at Dwight/Teley was reborn, Peet’s, South side — sans pigeons.

During this period, perhaps a full decade ago, residents of my building near People’s Park noticed the arrival on their decks of a steady stream of Columbidae. Pretty pigeons with metallic colors, ugly pigeons in dirty grey. Skittish pigeons, and the stubborn type.

The Kids.

Much has been written on pigeons, and although they don’t have their own mega-hit, like Penguins, they have made the movies, and been the subject of flocks of books.

Say what they have about pigeons, the birds are magnificent animals with strong senses of loyalty and a homing system that made them great (medal of honor) messengers in world war 1.

I have seen them muscle their way into blocked nooks and crannies. They have defeated countless attempts by me to keep them from nesting on my deck. Only yesterday, I watched a mother-hen pigeon, or was it the father, shoving a heavy plastic owl statue from a nest-hole, which the statue was blocking.

The mighty bird had managed to rock the owl statuette, and was about to oust it when I intervened on behalf of the plaster-owl. I have seen the birds dislodge or otherwise outsmart attempts to block them from their haunts.

Shitty perhaps, the birds have their watchers. And then there are “pigeon fanciers,” who breed and show them in competition (Mike Tyson). Mike, I’m not saying you get it on with pigeons, okay, just raise them. Okay, Mike?

Perhaps I have become a pigeon admirer; they are war heroes. That has to count for something. Rafting photographers use the heroic Columidae to this day, and the contemporary Chinese army swears by them.

I am not the type to assault a bird, although the pigeon that shit on me in 1958, as I emerged from my draft board (double shit-on)…I’d like to talk to that bird.


Not me. It’s Infanticide?

Especially after what happened to the cafe Mediterraneum’s radio personality, Joe Ogos, who, when managing a downtown Berkeley apartment building some years ago, was charged with beating pigeons on his roof. He had to go to court with his attorney, and although cleared, was fired.

No beatings, but I have “aborted” at least four eggs. Pigeon eggs are reportedly eaten in China as a delicacy, but so are rats. When I think about pigeon potential I squelched, I try not to think about it — like any abortionist. I grant you the right to your own body, but disapprove of my own bird abortionist-actions.


You could hear their chirps, but when you poked through your bric-a-brac, all a-jumble on your cement deck, you couldn’t find the presumed nest.

When the chirps went away, you may have relaxed your vigilance. And when the chirps returned, you broke out in a dread-sweat.

It is always dispiriting to disturb the status-quo of your deck pile, because what is hiding in the pile is a sickening accumulation of pigeon droppings, or worse — a terrorist training camp for pigeons, a sort Al-Columidae armed with turd-sized weapons of mass destruction.

When the tension became Poe-like unbearable, you began pulling out the building blocks of a fortress only a pigeon could push its way into.

You uncover the chirpers, two adorable, tiny pigeon new-borns, all vulnerable, and seeming like catcher’s mitts with their soft bones and awkward wings.

You can’t be too cautious after what befell Ogos, but after looking at surrounding decks to see if anyone was watching, you take the dresser drawer hosting the babies, and slightly tip it over your railing, foolishly hoping the babies would fly off as a new-born had years ago.

Fortunately, the babies seemed glued to the floor of the dresser-drawer. You could see them in your mind’s eye splatting to their deaths.


The babies’ mother was perched on a neighbor’s railing nearby — watching.

Carefully transporting the nest-drawer out your apartment and to a mezzanine deck three floors below, you pick a shady spot and gently rest the birdies there. You are slightly shivering in the heat of direct sunlight.

But the birds are just lumps. Breathing, but a huddled lump.


But first some shameless self-promotion. After almost killing the miniature sweethearts, you report to the manager that the birds are there, thanks to you.

The manager, who often eyes you with scorn and suspicion, was giving off a smarmy look of adoration.

When I returned from shopping, the bird’s mother or father or just a concerned passer-by pigeon (an uncle?), had found the kids.

Saved by just another heroic pigeon?

We’ll see.

Post Script: When I dropped in on “the kids” this afternoon, they were not there. I went to the managers, who said they had moved the kids. I found them and noticed the water and crackers I left were used up. The manager said the kids’ mother would hear them from their new location, but that seemed like jive, although I think the managers picked a good relocation.

P.S.S.: This morning I arrived in time to stop a pawing from a neighborhood cat. After escorting the pushy pussy of the property, I moved “the kids.”

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