Monday, December 24, 2012

Straggler

Little time for blogging lately; I might eventually write about the Nebraska Falconers' Association meet, but first I wanted to round out the North American Falconers' Association meet with one last post.

One of the most memorable characters from the 2012 NAFA meet in Kearney was neither a falconer nor a hawk, nor a dog, but a pigeon. Specifically, a brown pigeon with a grey rump who, having been brought to the meet by a falconer, escaped from the falconer's truck. Now, I'm no pigeon expert, but I would have expected the pigeon to make a few ascending circles to get its bearings and then line out for home, wherever that may have been. (I didn't inquire and so don't know whose pigeon it was.) Instead, it made the Holiday Inn parking lot and adjacent weathering yard its manor, hawk-infested though it may have been.

We arrived on Tuesday evening, at which point the pigeon was already well-ensconced. Sometimes perching in a tree above the redtails and Harris' hawks, sometimes flying lazy circles around the parking lot and weathering yard, sometimes strutting among the assembled SUVs and pickups, the pigeon was always in evidence. Ellie and I made a semi-concerted attempt to grab it, each of sneaking nonchalantly around the corner of a hawking rig in a pincer movement, but the pigeon was wary; it had already evaded a few such efforts by others attending the meet, as well as the noose carpet that a more methodical would-be trapper had employed. No, this pigeon, having made good its escape, was determined not to return to captivity, though neither did it seem interested in travel—the Holiday Inn, it seems, was good enough.

(Lest anyone think that our look-casual-and-grab technique was hopelessly naïve, I did bare-hand a pigeon in downtown Lincoln a couple of hours before my wedding to Jess, wearing a tuxedo no less. I was wearing a tuxedo, not the pigeon.)

I helped break down the weathering yard late Friday afternoon, pulling posts and rolling fence, and of course the pigeon was still there, watching the deconstruction and presumably breathing a sigh of relief that all the hawks and falcons had gone. And it was still there late Saturday morning as we loaded the station wagon and pulled out; we were headed for home, and the pigeon apparently thought it was home. As we drove off, we wondered at its fate; maybe it will integrate into one of the flocks of feral pigeons in downtown Kearney, a mile or two north; maybe it will discover too late that not all Cooper's hawks are tethered to bowperches. I rather enjoy not knowing.

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