Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Robins and pigeons, oh, my!

It's been raining on and off all day, and foggy as well. In other words, it's one of those DDDDDDDDDs--those Dreary, Dank, Dark, Dull, Drippy, Dismal Depressing Duluth Days. Fortunately, these are often followed by the MMMMs--Magnificent, Magical Minnesota Mornings.

Robins have arrived back in town, but aren't doing much singing in my neighborhood yet. Today I did hear and see another kind of robin, though--the pair of fakey American Robins that turn up, an ocean away from where they belong, in London in Mary Poppins. And the male sings a decidedly unrobin-like song. There's something so beautiful about the song "Feed the Birds," and Jane Darwell is extraordinarily moving as the Bird Woman, that it's almost easy to forget that the birds she's feeding are pigeons. Then again, there's something lovely about pigeons when you're in a big city. One of my earliest memories is of standing on the sofa in our two-flat in Chicago, looking out the window at the grimy neighborhood. We were near Riverview Park (I could see the parachute ride from our apartment), and just a few blocks from a drawbridge on the Chicago River. Every now and then we could see the bridge go up, and when it did, pigeons took off. I loved how they drew my eyes skyward. In my book I talk a lot about how important cities are--in wildness is the preservation of the world, but in cities is the preservation of wildness. And city birds are an important factor in making cities livable. That's why I so appreciate Cornell's Project Pigeon Watch.