Daily visits from a pigeon have changed a Toronto man’s view of what some people see as annoying birds.
Like many others, Rob Mueller did not think so much about pigeons until about 10 years ago, when someone jumped on his lap while sitting in the backyard with his wife.
“He jumped up off our deck steps, walked across the deck, and then he looked at us, jumped in my wife’s lap, and then he jumped into mine, and then that’s where it all started,” Mueller tells blogTO.
Mueller has a bird feeder in the backyard of his Etobicoke home that attracts many types of birds, and he likes to watch them from his kitchen window.
“I’m just always glued to the window because it’s like my natural channel,” he says.
He has tracked over 80 different species coming to the feeder.
Most birds just stay near the bird food and do not get too close to humans, but the pigeons are a different story. Mueller got to know this particular pigeon, which he called Pierre, = and wrote about for Bird Canada’s website.
“He came back almost every day for over five years,” Mueller says.
Unfortunately, Pierre flew one day and never came back.
But about a year ago, another pigeon started coming, which Mueller has called Gulliver. Gulliver comes with a herd of about 10 pigeons, but unlike the others, he or she (Mueller is not sure) snatches over when Mueller goes outside.
“As soon as I step out into the backyard. That’s usually when he comes flying in,” he says. “Sometimes he comes about two or three times a day, like on the weekends.”
About four months ago, Gulliver began landing on Mueller’s hand when he laid it out. Gulliver is a bit of a dominant bird and will not share Mueller with other birds.
“He will push the other birds often, he will actually fight them now,” he says. “Yes, he has claimed me.”
Most pigeons in the city are a blue-gray color, but Gulliver stands out for its gray and white feathers.
While Mueller provides food for Gulliver and the other birds, the pigeons will sometimes bring him small twigs.
“They just hold it (the twig) in their mouth, and they look at me, and they tilt their heads. And as soon as I go to them, they drop it. So it’s like, oh, here, I brought you something. “
Mueller lives near the Humber River and likes nature and tries to make his backyard as animal friendly as possible.
He writes a blog about his animal encounters, and recently he had an owl in his backyard for almost a month. He set up an owl box about seven years ago, but this is the longest that has been.
Through his posts, he has experienced that people are starting to think differently about pigeons.
“They’re actually starting to look at pigeons differently, and they do not think they are such disgusting creatures. They’re just out there to survive. So people are actually nicer or at least tolerant of the bird,” he says.
Once you get to know them, pigeons are amazing.
“They’re not just a flock of birds, you know, they’re all individuals,” he says. “They all have just small differences and sometimes even their own personality, actually.”