Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Passenger Pigeons

Two legged passengers on the L are not an unusual site, unless they happen have two wings as well. That was the case this morning as a pair of pigeons hopped aboard our train at Howard Street. Since the train was an express, this pair of dark feathered Rock Doves would be traveling with us until Belmont, a roughly fifteen minute trip of five and one half miles. Usually when a winged passenger hops aboard a train, the paying riders make a fuss and shoo it off before the doors close. A few weeks ago I saw a man go into near hysterics when a pigeon briefly entered the train only to be unceremoniously escorted out the door. The way the man carried on long after the bird was kicked off, you'd have thought a tiger had boarded the train.

That wasn't the case today, these two birds made themselves at home as a couple of human passengers gave them some bread crumbs, while others just smiled and took pictures of them with their cellphones. No one seemed particularly disturbed by the well behaved avian passengers whom I assume did not pay the fare. As the train approached Belmont, the birds headed toward the door and waited patiently as the train pulled into the station. To help them along on their journey, the man who fed them gently encouraged them to be on their way, but I don't think it was necessary. Like the panhandlers who occasionally work the trains, these most urban of birds knew exactly how long to test the patience of their fellow passengers.

Presumably they hung around the trendy Belmont/Halsted neighborhood for a while before catching the train for home. It wouldn't have been a problem for them of course, pigeons have a perfect sense of direction. 

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