TOO BIG A job for even the Israeli Army, an infernal battle against pigeons in my pantry is an unwinnable war. Google’s best suggestion is seven drops of both lemon and peppermint oils in a diluted vinegar solution, generously sprayed on perching areas. The pigeons now smell great and have lovely complexions. More have arrived to “the spa.”
It started with the discovery of two adorable eggs in the flower pot on the living room window sill. Those were the days when “my children” still liked me. Gathering them around, I intoned a tedious narrative about the wonders of nature. One son said I was in La-La Land; he’d been living in Tel Aviv for more than a year and swore that they were rats-with-wings, a callous description since I was trying to offer enrichment education to city-slicker offspring. Another daughter had fine-tuned an imitative ‘pigeon prance,’ consisting of a sway-backed walk while bobbing her head. Oh, how we’d roar as she danced them out of the salon, a cross between Isadora Duncan and the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The birds showed no fear as they calmly strutted through the living room on mornings following the nights I’d forgotten to shut the windows and sliding doors of the patio. That was two apartments ago where we had a small garden. Much of the time the birds were cute.
The horrific smell, the powerful flapping of wings, the dusting of downy feathers on anything I now store on patio shelves has become unbearable. Surprise, surprise: Down feathers stick to everything! Reading that some people in Japan died from poisons released by bird excrement, my husband erected a wooden frame barrier covered in chicken wire to keep them out, which is ugly and traps dirt, feathers and assorted filth in the openings. Now I cannot even get out to clean, imprisoned by a foolish invention that, like other projects, seemed brilliant and foolproof when discussed over coffee. The neighbors are equally plagued, and my heart breaks for those who, unlike me, do not have an electric clothes dryer. Unless they scatter collapsible laundry racks throughout the house, their fresh laundry is vulnerable to the “crap-shoot” of pigeon poop.
Watching the Trevi Fountain scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” I ignored the birds, as I was more consumed with Anne Hathaway’s probable dress size and the realization that we couldn’t be friends. And I no longer croon like Mary Poppins to “Feed the Birds” while peeling zucchinis. What’s more, even if I experienced an unexpected urge to speak with the Pope, there is no way I’d book a hotel room in Vatican City. Too many irreligious morning-doves pecking at the robes of nuns and ankles of visiting Jews like me. If the Pope wants to shmooze, we’ll have to find a neutral, bird-free location. Maybe Masada.
I’ve purchased a box of disposable medical masks and, after dousing the offending areas with bleach, I’ll string-up no-longer used CDs. Apparently the shiny sides, reflected by the sun, serve as deterrents. Maybe Perry Como’s Greatest Hits or The Best of Johnny Mathis will do the job. Maybe not. But I’m game.
I don’t mind coo-coo-cooing at little babies but cooing of pigeons at my kitchen window just won’t do. Where is the IDF when the people really need them???
New York native Andrea Simantov has lived in Jerusalem since 1995. She is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.