A Farewell

I have six pigeons that live in my garden. Lived.

I have looked after them for about five years either as a result of caring for them due to injury or because they fell out of the nest too early.

Pigeons are much maligned birds. People go on about them being the rats of the sky and so on and while it is true that en masse they can be a tad overwhelming, in small groups they are actually quite lovely.

They are intelligent, cute and very Zen. They relate very well to people.

None of my pigeons carried disease or bugs.

On Saturday the school behind my house saw fit to eradicate their pigeon population of about 30 birds by putting out poison. The principal of the school knew that I, and two of my neighbours had birds which occasionally flew with the school population yet she chose not to inform us she was putting poison down. All of our birds were killed.

I had to take the body of my neighbour’s pigeon, Sweet Pea, to her and watch as her face crumpled. I had to see my dear old friend, Rita, staggering up the laneway trying to get back home so that I could help her and just not making it. I had to watch as she died.

Later that evening I found three dead cockatoos in the laneway as well as several crows and two mourning doves.

I still can’t believe it.

I don’t think I can live here anymore.

I don’t think I want to.

Farewell my dear feathered friends. Most people hate you but I loved you.

To dearest Rita, Digby, Scabo, Cutie McFeathers, Dopey and Lil Purty – I won’t ever forget you.

You taught me that the most beautiful spirits are the spirits of the air.

I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.

I’m so sorry.

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43 thoughts on “A Farewell

  1. Oh Selma. I am so sorry for your loss, and for that of your neighbors. I am filled with sorrow and rage because of this indiscriminate act of murder. There should be a law against poisoning any animal that can not recognize human boundary lines. They have their own corridors of flight and travel. The school could have just as easily had the children build a wonderful coop to house them and used the dropping as fertilizer for a garden. Or perhaps had the children care for them as part of an extra credit exercise. Why murder ? Why do we as a species always have to resort to murder as a solution ? There is a difference between killing and murder. This was murder. I love the birds in the forest where I live. I throw a lot of food scraps out of the front door so that I can watch the beautiful little creatures eat while I sit in my chair. I love to watch them pick at the papaya rinds and banana peels .Watching them makes me happy. I am so sorry to hear this.

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  2. i am so sorry you had to go through that. its just heartbreaking how absolutely cruel people can be. its shocking that school of all places would take such measures. what a way to set an example! i hope you notified the council and i hope they do something about it. i really am still a little shaken up. animals can change our lives in such positive ways and i am glad you had the opportunity and at the same time, your birds were lucky to have found you.

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  3. This is so dreadful, Selma–I’m so sorry to hear of your loss!

    There are so many ways to control species population size without indiscriminately poisoning every living thing in the area. Is this even legal in Sydney? Please check with the authorities and file as many complaints and protests as possible. Your neighbors should complain too whether they lost friends or not. The poison will impact more than the birds and can endanger the children too. Maybe you can get the parents involved in protesting this as well. If any school my daughter attended had done something like this I would be at the front of the line giving them h@ll about it!

    Sending you hugs and comfort–Sagacious Woman

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  4. I have been thinking about this ever since you mentioned it on Twitter. It is just so cruel. How can they do that? Why didn’t they at least tell you so you could try to keep them safe for a few days? Why poison birds anyway? Whose right is it to choose which are pests and which are not? It is outrageous.

    I am so so sorry that your lovely birds have died. So very very sorry. But right now I feel as angry as I do sad.

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  5. That’s maddening. I echo all the sentiments here – you really should check and see if it was legal. There should be some form of restitution. UGH! My Texas dander is up… it’s an insane, insane world.

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  6. I agree with texasblu! How outrageous was that! Killing pigeons is maybe legal, but galahs and other natives are most likely protected, not that it helps you. Serious commiserations mate!

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  7. Oh no! I am so so sorry, what a terrible, terrible thing, words just can’t express my feelings about this.

    I have known and loved pigeons too – love to you. x

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  8. That makes me so angry – those bastards. Are they even allowed to do that! I’ll find out. I wouldn’t want to live there either – cause they’ll probably do it again in a few years.

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  9. Indiscriminate poisoning is illegal in this country; I suppose because pigeon-fancying has such a large following, especially in the North. I hope you’ve been down to the council and the authorities are going to throw the book at the person responsible.

    (And they make them pay *personally*, otherwise it’ll just come out of the Education budget)

    Believe me, this works, if you move them about occasionally. All they had to do was put a few statuettes or cut-outs of owls in strategic places.

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  10. Perhaps it’s time to dig up facts about the ill effects on children, wildlife, pets, environment, etc and look for others who are angry in your area. Once that’s done start a small campaign aimed 1st aganst the city with the goal being a local ordinance against it.

    “All that is nesessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke

    You and your neighbors are the aforementioned ‘good’ folks. So very sorry for your loss, but far angrier at the school administration.

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  11. Add me to the list of the outraged. I’ve seen stories such as this replayed over and over and over again. It never hurts any less.

    I remember when a next door neighbor felled a ginormous blue spruce that I had loved for more than a decade (it was home to many). I avoided contact with the man as best I could thereafter. Bad vibes.

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  12. That is just too sad, Selma. I hope the kids did not end up seeing any dead birds about the place.

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  13. Selma – so sorry to hear about this terrible thing that’s happened. Humanity seems to be becoming ever more human-centred, seeing the rest of nature only in terms of profit and loss or otherwise as a pest.

    I agree with you that pigeons are beautiful birds. I often stop to exchange a good morning with the ones in the city and on a sunny morning their colours are most beautiful. Joseph Crawhall, a Scottish painter, painted a beautiful picture of ordinary city pigeons on a roof – here’s a link to the image


    I hope the picture brings you some peace and maybe even a smile,

    hugs from Scotland

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  14. This is so sad, particularly as it was a school doing it. Children should be in environments where they are taught to respect the living world. Pigeons are nice birds too, I love to watch our woodpigeons and collared doves. Feral pigeons can be troublesome but it could be argued that humans made them that way…

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  15. That’s awful! Are there no laws? What about the SPCA?
    In actual fact if we are judging animals by how easily they evolve to new situations I doubt a pigeon can be beat. They are the evolutionary heros.

    So sorry.

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  16. Oh MY GOD! That is incredibly sick. How horrible Selma. What is wrong with this planet?? To put out poison?? And in a school yard no less. This person should be reported. The media should be informed. So should the parents!!

    I have a flock of mourning doves who hang out at my house. I love them all and they make me feel honoured. My yard is full of many species of birds………. they keep the music going all through the day. I can’t imagine not hearing their arias….

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  17. Bird poisoner facing two years’ jail, fine
    Ben Walker, 02 Dec, 2009
    http://www.dailyliberal.com.au/news/local/news/general/bird-poisoner-facing-two-years-jail-fine/1692999.aspx

    The Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
    http://www.rspcansw.org.au/home

    Report a cruelty case:
    http://www.rspcansw.org.au/services/inspectorate/report_a_cruelty_case

    Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
    http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/

    Hazmat
    http://www.nswfb.nsw.gov.au/index.php

    Regards,
    DavidM

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  18. I am just sending MORE hugs.

    Selma, I feel SO BAD for you. You’ve had nothing but heartbreak and stress for months now. I do hope something WONDERFUL is right around the corner for you.

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  19. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR WONDERFUL COMMENTS. I AM SORRY FOR THE LATE REPLY. I NEEDED TO TAKE A MINUTE, WHICH TURNED INTO HOURS AND THEN DAYS. BUT TODAY I FEEL BETTER. THE SUN IS SHINING, THE SKY IS CLEAR BLUE, THERE IS A SOFT BREEZE. LIFE GOES ON, DOESN’T IT? ALWAYS….

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  20. Hi PUNATIK:
    I love watching the birds too. I read in a book about depression that many people who are depressed gain comfort from watching the birds because they are the closest we can get to air and light. It certainly lifts my mood. I let the school have it this week so hopefully, they will explore other options besides killing in the future. They just didn’t fully think about what they were doing.

    Hi RANDOM BLOGGER:
    It really shook me up too. I feel a strong connection to most animals and am very Buddhist in that I won’t even kill a spider, I will catch it and move it somewhere else. Sadly, Buddhist principles don’t often work in the real world. I really appreciate you stopping by.

    Hi JASON:
    Oh, totally. Life just sucks sometimes and there is no denying it.

    Hi SAGACIOUS WOMAN:
    Apparently it is legal with pigeons but the local community must be notified first and the culling must be very closely monitored. I realise pigeon populations can get out of control but it is very traumatic to see them falling out of the trees. It’ll take me a while to recover from that.

    HI RELUCS:
    That is the key point – who decides what is a pest and what isn’t? I miss my little buddies, I really do. It’s been a tough week.

    Hi TEX:
    The world is getting more insane by the minute, I think. And a lot of unbelievable things are happening. Expect the unexpected is my new motto.

    Hi STAFFORD:
    Thanks, mate. You certainly cannot kill cockatoos. They are protected. It’s just outrageous!

    Hi SUSANNAH:
    I am fond of them. They are silly little guys. It has been hard to lose them.

    Hi SINGER:
    I know. They have sickened me this week.

    Hi IRON FIST:
    Thanks, hon. It happens, unfortunately. Hard to cope with but such is life…

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  21. Hi DAOINE:
    She is cold as ice, that woman. And she has beady eyes. I don’t trust anyone with beady eyes.

    Hi GABRIELLE:
    It does put me off living here. At the moment I am stuck in a lease so we’ll see what happens in 2011. I really don’t need to see this in my back yard.

    Hi NAT:
    It seems totally Draconian. I still can’t quite believe it.

    Hi MELEAH:
    I am still shocked about it. Seems so unnecessary. It really freaked me out!

    Hi QUERULOUS SQUIRREL:
    They did it on the weekend in the hope no one would see it. Part of the problem is that the schoolkids feed the birds. I see them. You’d think the school could have stopped that first and see if it made a difference.

    Hi MAIMOONA:
    Humans are a cruel species and that’s the truth. But there are a lot of kind and lovely people too. And guess what? They’re all on this blog!

    Hi TRAVELRAT:
    I can see that the owls would work. My Scottish grandad was a pigeon fancier. He had a fantastic homing pigeon called Big Sandy. That pigeon was unbelievable. He flew all over the place. I guess that’s where my love for pigeons came from.

    Hi MIKE S:
    A lot of people have complained to the school this week. I hope it makes a difference. I am still really angry at them too. They didn’t even think.

    Hi HEATHER:
    It’s such a shame. I miss those little guys….

    Hi JENNIFER:
    I think they should tell the kids what they have done. I’m sure some of them are wondering where the birds are.

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  22. People can be cruel. And a school did that? What lesson are they teaching the kids? I’m not that particularly fond of pigeons but will feed any that land on my balcony and feed many when I stayed at my grandma’s place as a kid. There would be atleast 20 of these pigeons that gather at the front porch and we would feed it grain for years at a stretch. They never harm anyone.

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  23. Hi JONAS:
    Oh, I hear you. Someone poisoned trees in our local park because it was ruining their water views. So many bird habitats would have been destroyed as a result. Such selfishness staggers me.

    Hi SLAMDUNK:
    Thank you so much.

    Hi KATE:
    It may be within the law but it is certainly not humane. I don’t think it would sit well with many of the children.

    Hi ROWE:
    I hope they didn’t, either. That would have been quite upsetting for them.

    Hi PUDDOCK:
    That painting is absolutely wonderful. I agree with you about the pigeons. The painting has cheered me more than you could know.

    Hi JULIET:
    I think humans definitely made them that way. I love woodpigeons and collared doves too. So cute!

    Hi ONE OF THE GUYS:
    It does seem to send the wrong message, for sure. Hard to believe.

    Hi LAURI:
    I completely agree with you re. the evolution. Those guys can adapt to anything. Amazing.

    Hi DANA:
    It seems such a backward way of dealing with the situation. I told Nick you have a flock of mourning doves in your garden and he is so jealous. They are his favourite birds. You must have a serenity that they relate to. An honour indeed!

    Hi DAVID:
    Thanks for all your wonderful links. I do so appreciate the effort you have put in to finding them. They will come in handy.

    Hi MELEAH:
    You are such a sweet person. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

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  24. There’s all sorts of ways to persuade the birds to go elswhere … ask at any airfield; most of them have a unit especially dedicated to doing that.

    Things like … shell crackers, recorded bird distress calls, even mowing the grass less frequently. One guy reported good results from flying a kite shaped like a predator (until Tony Bunn hit it with a C-130!)

    They WEREN’t allowed to shoot the birds, or use poison.

    Even scarecrows or hanging up old CDs work to some extent.

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  25. Hi ROSHAN:
    They are harmless creatures, really, but not everyone’s cup of tea. I wish they had been scared off rather than killed. Such a shame.

    Hi TRAVELRAT:
    I know that airfields have a lot of trouble with birds. I saw a doco about it. Some of the methods used were extremely inventive and quite funny. It was one guy’s job to think of ways to redirect them.

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  26. I’m still reeling from the first time I read this post a few days ago. As a bird fancier, this simply breaks my heart. Someone is watching over our feathers friends, and karma? Oh, she’s a bitch, you know…

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  27. I find it very difficult to comment on this because animals have always been very special in my life.
    I wonder what example this is to the students … Instead of teaching them love and care for the living world…
    This took me back more than twenty years ago when someone had secretly put poison all around the neighbourhood to get rid of the stray dogs. That was a cruel and thoughtless act in itself, but it also caused the deaths of almost all the pets in the neighbourhood. Including my little dog. I can never get over this atrocity.

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  28. Hi SHIONA:
    I am in tears thinking about your poor dog. What a despicable, evil act. I am so sorry that happened. So sorry. XX

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  29. As bad as this was, I think that it is made worse by the fact that a school was responsible. I am sure that it will be spun into a concoction where it was “all for the kids” and what not. I am sure that at the heart of it all is a spoilt little boy, living inside a conceited little man, who takes perverse pleasure in inflicting pain upon those deemed weaker than himself.
    As I said in an earlier post – we get out of this universe what we put in – his time will come.
    I’m sorry Selma – here’s a bear size hug for you <>!

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