Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A very odd pigeon!

CrowThere is a railway station near me which has some decidedly odd pigeons. The street pigeon is so well-known that most of us hardly even notice them, even though they are common in most places in cities and towns. I first noticed the 'odd pigeons' wandering between parked cars near the station (the birds, not me). They didn't look right, and, in particular, didn't walk right for pigeons!

They behave like street pigeons you can see anywhere. They hang around on high vantage points, like roofs, a lot. Then, sometimes, they fly down and walk about in the places frequented by humans, looking for small items we have dropped, specifically anything edible. They are tolerant of human presence, right down to a metre or two, generally preferring to walk off rather than fly away when approached too closely. So why do these ones look so unusual?

It was because they're not pigeons at all but crows! This particular crow flock has been hanging around by the station since summer. I'm guessing they were born this year, somewhere nearby. They are often seen walking along the platforms of the station, in spite of the presence nearby of passengers, which is unusual for crows which are normally wary of humans. This flock even turns up in areas under cover (ie. no ready access to the open sky) which is also unusual for crows, though not for pigeons. So what's going on? Are they imitating the local pigeons or did they just learn for themselves how to forage in a way appropriate for a closely built-up environment with lots of people around? I don't know!

What has this to do with the paranormal? Well, firstly, if anyone reports seeing a 'pigeon' from that railway station, I'll suspect it could as easily be a crow! Secondly, the fact that nature constantly surprises shows that we should never take it for granted when considering possible explanations for weird events. It is always necessary to visit the area where something paranormal was reported to have happened. But apart from checking all the obvious things, it is also worth seeing if there is anything unusual about the area, like crows that think they are pigeons.

Incidentally, recent research has shown that crows can recognise and remember individual humans, if they associate them with a bad experience. Never underestimate, or annoy, the crow!

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