Ornithophobia: a fear of birds
Birds may appear to have sinister overtones as depicted in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven (first published in 1845) and Hitchcock’s film The Birds (1963), so these and my post A Question of Balance would no doubt have been unsettling for sufferers of the condition (my apologies) .
Compared to crows though, Pigeons are so much cuter. I like pigeons (and so does Clint Eastwood in the film In The Line of Fire (1993) according to the script). They are funny to watch, and I’m convinced that if they were unable to move their heads like the wooden toy ducks of yesteryear, they would be forever standing still. We have several visit our garden which are so amazingly fat it’s a wonder they ever get airborne, not to mention the possibility of branches breaking under their weight when they land in our trees. Two have been nicknamed Portly and Breast, and last year they had young, so we have P and B II. Pigeons are monogamous though when one of the pair dies, the other will find another partner. Maximum Recorded Age: 17 years 8 months 19 days (set in 1999) .
I worked for a company whose offices were in a 4 storey converted building, with a residential flat in the attic rooms. This flat had been empty and unused for years, so it was no surprise that it fell into disrepair. One morning, our accounts manager heard noises coming from the flat and getting the key, went up to investigate. I heard his scream in the basement where I was doing a stock take and together with my immediate boss, rushed up the four flights of stairs to see what had happened (I was considerably younger and much fitter then). We found him in a heap on the floor shaking uncontrollably and it took a while for him to tell us what was wrong. He suffered from acute Ornithophobia, and there was apparently a pigeon trapped in the flat having got in through a hole in the ceiling. After settling him back in his office with a cup of coffee, my boss and I came up with a plan to release it. Armed with a tea towel and some bread, we let ourselves into the flat and located the bird without too much difficulty. However, it seemed quite content where it was and didn’t want to go back out through the hole it had come in by, so we had no choice but to try and catch it. This was easier said than done, did not turn out the way we anticipated, and raised a few smiles in the process.
My boss was flapping the tea towel to guide it towards me as I tried to tempt it with bread crumbs on my hand. The stupid creature flew up my skirt in panic, so without thinking I bunched the material round my knees and sidestepped, knees together, to the window. I then put my backside through the open gap, lifted my skirt and shook a rather surprised bird out into the open. An almighty cheer erupted from the building site below (I’d forgotten about them) and I don’t know which set of my cheeks was the reddest.