Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Denizens of the Seventh Floor

It's been five years since we moved to this apartment up on the seventh floor, more or less identical to the one we were staying in, two blocks away in the same complex. Our seventh heaven! And then you realize that apartment blocks also have many non-human residents. The day we moved in, I was absolutely shocked to discover ants crawling into the biscuit container, within hours of our stuff reaching this flat, and getting into all kinds of foodstuffs almost by magic. When we told our landlord's niece, who lives close by, and who was our go to person for all apartment related issues, she said this was the first she was hearing of ants. Pest control was called, and the ant issue was sorted. Every year, when a cockroach or two manifests, we know it's time to renew our pest control contract. 

And then, we discovered a squirrel getting into the chimney's exhaust pipe. It would, very charmingly, skitter up to the balcony with bits of fluff, clamber up the gas pipe, and hop into the exhaust pipe. (It had a cover, but the gaps were large enough for a little squirrel to get into). I love our desi squirrels, they are small and charming, unlike their rather intimidating giant American cousins. However, I had heard horror stories of my cousin's air conditioner wires being destroyed by squirrels, so this little creature wasn't welcome. My helper opened up the exhaust vent and pulled out a huge bundle of fluff and cotton waste, and a tiny baby squirrel, which, sadly, didn't survive. That was the last of the squirrels visiting us. 

The house lizards mostly live in the balcony, a big fat one lurking on the screen door.                              

Thirsty wasps fly all the way up too, to drink from the pots!   

We are, very occasionally, blessed by a visit from sun birds, singing lustily, at a volume that belies their tininess. Happiness is a visiting sparrow. Happiness is not our unwanted guests, the prolifically pooping pigeons. 

They are the most unwelcome visitors. I have no visceral hatred of pigeons per se. They are birds with an interesting history, as messengers, as pigeon post, bred by pigeon fanciers. Their gleaming, iridescent, rich green, purple and magenta neck feathers are beautiful. I even find their guttural, throaty gutur goo sounds pleasant. We used to put out water for them, but then learned that their dropping are toxic and can cause serious respiratory diseases, so we stopped that practice. I didn't like the thought of them dying of thirst, so although the wretched birds are not good to my potted plants (they land their fat heavy bodies on delicate stems sometimes), they come every morning and drink from the pots once I've watered them. They seem to be territorial: our housing complex is probably home to hundreds of pigeons, but they seem to have an allotment system that works. There is a group of three which visits my balcony every morning, and hopefully drink their fill. (They seem to thrive in family groups of three: I remember my younger son, then five, and I naming the greediest one Piggyon, the lurking one was Suspigeon, and the third, unimaginatively, was Friend Pigeon).

What's the problem then, you may well ask.

This is the problem! They have not only ruined the balcony fan (it no longer works), but find it a convenient spot for both dozing and pooping. This is totally unacceptable to me. I have now morphed into the mad woman who can be seen, several times a day, chasing the pigeons with a stick. One evening I cruelly chased off a sleeping pair, and felt quite guilty about it. Fortunately, the guilt didn't last long. Even my poor helper gets sick of the amount of pigeon poop she has to clean. These past couple of weeks have me peeping out of the screen door every time I visit the kitchen, making sure there are no pigeons on the fan. They do try their luck every morning, and then seem to give up, by eleven or so. Have I successfully trained them? I don't know. But I seriously wonder, who exactly is the bird brain out here???

No comments: