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Nina In New York: Now I Hate Pigeons And Bird Puns

A young professional's take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

The pigeons have come to roost.

This is not code to launch phase three in a super secret plan to snag a neighbor's rent-controlled apartment or a confusing idiomatic phrase that no one understands, like "a camel is a horse approved by a committee." Someone casually said that to me once, and I still have no idea whether I ought to be insulted.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that the pigeons have literally come to roost. Our apartment is at the back of our building, looking out at the backs of other buildings. Somehow, this seems to create an ideal environment for these feathered pests. They are ever-present throughout the year, but you know what they say about the birds and the bees—springtime is a veritable pigeon convention around here. And frankly, I'm about as mad as a wet hen (if you know anything about hens, you know that means I'm really angry).

Photo Gallery: National Pigeon Association Grand Champions

I can plainly see that the birds have built homes around our neighbors' back decks which face us, and it seems as though our windowsills make the perfect hangout. They do their birdie thing in their nests in the mornings and then fly over to our place to chat with their pals, recap the previous night's Cardinal's game, gripe about their needy kids or dish on that new dove who just moved in on top of the water tank next door. Most of them retreat to their nests at night, but there are some unsavory groups of young toughs who like to stay up late and stomp around on our air conditioner, cooing and scratching and generally making a big racket. Don't they know some of us have work in the morning? Punks. Of course, I'm too chicken to really confront them. Instead I just squawk about it to anyone who will listen.

The reason my feathers are really ruffled now is that the time has come to start keeping our windows open, and this presents a much bigger problem. Pigeons can bring mites and other such creeps, and we all know by now that infestation is something of an albatross around my neck. Plus their droppings are just riddled with disease-causing bacteria, which can easily spread through the AC unit. It's disgusting, and something must be done about it. I feel like a sitting duck in here, just waiting for their poop to seep in and give me meningitis.

So what works? Our neighbors have one of those ridiculous plastic owls with a spinning head which is somehow supposed to scare the pigeons away. Obviously, it has no real effect other than to look creepy. A guy in a hardware store tried to sell me something which he could not promise wasn't poison, and as much as I hate the suckers, I don't want to go so far as to kill them. Besides, there was a warning label which said that if applied improperly, birds could get stuck on the windowsill. I can't even get into that hypothetical situation without dry heaving. We're eager to try bird spikes (they're non-violent and should make it pretty hard for the jerks to land), but have so far gone to two stores that didn't have any. We'll continue looking, but it's feeling like a wild goose chase around the city. In the meantime, we've just been acting like a couple of loons, screaming "get outta here!" and banging on the windows whenever we catch them loitering. This whole situation is just cuckoo, really. It's for the birds. I can only hope our goose isn't cooked.

Okay, I'm sorry. I'm done. Seriously, humane pigeon control suggestions are more than welcome.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I'm always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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