Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Viral Chaffinch and a Wounded Pigeon

We've had a lot of rain the last couple of days. The petals have been pounded off the cherry trees and litter the street like pink confetti.

Dave is continuing to improve. Some of the parents at school have banded together to bring us meals every few days. It's really incredibly kind -- we got a lasagna on Tuesday and today we're supposed to get a chicken casserole. Dave can't easily stand up long enough to prepare a meal, and as we all know my cooking skills are somewhat limited, so these dinners are much appreciated. I'm trying not to feel defensive about it -- like, why am I such a loser that I can't handle our meal preparation myself? But it is hard when I'm at work all day. (Frankly, we probably really needed the help about two weeks ago, when I had to fly back to Florida and Dave was here by himself, unwell. But it's certainly great to have it now.)

I took this picture of a chaffinch eating a sunflower seed on our garden fence the other day. It was only when I looked more closely that I saw his scaly feet. "What is up with that?" I thought. After some internet research I've learned that chaffinches are susceptible to a particular papillomavirus that causes this condition -- and apparently the virus only affects chaffinches. Strange how specifically evolution works! Apparently it doesn't hurt the birds, but it seems like it might be uncomfortable, doesn't it? There's also a mite called cnemidocoptes that causes a similar problem.

Speaking of birds, when I came home last night, Dave said, "I think there's a wet, dying pigeon sitting on our garden bench." I looked out in the yard and sure enough, a bedraggled bird was sitting on the backrest of the bench. I went outside to take a closer look and the bird, though wary, didn't move. It's feathers looked somewhat, well, plucked. I put some seed on the bench next to it and came back inside. A short time later we saw another pigeon land nearby, and I thought, "Awww, he's taking care of his friend." But no -- the second pigeon began to peck the hell out of the first one. No wonder its feathers were mangy-looking. I wonder how it earned the opprobrium of its fellow pigeons?

Anyway, it's gone this morning, so hopefully it survived the night. I did see our neighborhood fox trotting through the garden first thing this morning, so who knows.

Olga, as usual, loves to sit on the couch and watch all this wildlife. Dave and I crack up when she sits in this pose. It's not very demure, but it seems she's trying to sit upright like a person!


  1. Enjoy the help...I'm routinely amazed that I've lived this long with my cooking skills, all I ever garnered from my mother who was a great cook was condemnation...I love Olga's pose.She really is a star. Best to Dave.

  2. Word balloon leaving Olga's mouth: "Hey, pass me the remote Steve" or "What the **** are you looking at Dave?"
    Shame you didn't think to catch that old pigeon. You could have plucked it, gutted it and made Dave a nice pigeon pie.

  3. Wonderful support from your colleagues. Enjoy.
    I was sitting in am outdoor cafe yesterday where greedy pigeons walk all over you waiting for crumbs - we are not allowed to feed them in this city - try tell that to the elderly ladies with bags of salty leftover bread - and I noticed that none of them had healthy feet/claws. They all looked really decrepit with claws missing and whatnot. I almost felt sorry but they were vicious nevertheless. (I must try and be more passionate.)

    Lovely picture of the pink confetti bench!

  4. I know that chickens will sometimes pick one out of the flock and peck hell out of it. It may be because the flock detects a weakness in that particular bird. I do not know. But I don't think it's uncommon.
    I love that the school is helping out with meals! Community! It's a lovely thing. I hope the food is delicious!
    And our bulldogs always liked to sit up like that. We had one that would sit in a chair by a window and look out for hours a day. It was hysterical!
    Poor little Chaffinch!

  5. Iand london always gets a bad press when kindness is kind

  6. we humans do it. I guess the strong always pick (or peck as the case may be) on the weak.

    we had a pink crepe myrtle in the front yard of the city house. it never failed that when it came into bloom we would get rain and the ground would be slimy pink.

  7. I hate to see any animal suffering, even the dreaded pigeon. It's so nice that the teachers and the parents are lending a hand with some meals. And, of course, I love the photo of Olga.

  8. That's really nice of your colleagues! And that Olga is a HOOT. :)

  9. Your photos of Olga never fail to make me smile, and this one especially so :) Those cherry blossoms continue to be beautiful even off the trees. Nice shot. Glad you two are eating well. Friends (and kind colleagues) are good.

  10. Well, things are looking up with your food. parents at your school are very kind. Birds for some reason pick on another bird and kill it. The fox may have got your pigeon.

  11. working all day, coming home to walk the dog, make dinner, read to Dave...sounds familiar.
    Take out was always my answer when I was just too exhausted.You might consider that possibility. Poor bird, life is tough in the pecking order. Olga is magnificent and confident!
    a right lady! be well you three!