To be honest, I have never had much respect for pigeons. However, I had a two experiences with them during our winter trip that has changed my mind.
The first was at Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio. Camping and hiking at Hocking Hills was surprisingly wonderful. We had snowfall the first night which gave us a wonderful winter landscape to enjoy the next day. We were also the only people staying in the campground and there were very few people on the trails.
The attractions at the park include hemlocks, streams, waterfalls, towering canyons, and caves eroded into the limestone walls.
I’m always drawn to evergreens in winter and the hemlock trees are towering, majestic creatures. Their sloping branches catch the snowfall, providing shelter underneath them. But my eye also catches the mosses growing on the limestone next to waterfalls. (And for those of you who I tortured with plant biology, those would be gymnosperms and bryophytes. Hehehehehe!)
There are several areas for hiking within a few miles drive of each other. Our second hike was at Rock House which involved hiking through a gorge, up to the cave, and then hiking along the rim. As we neared Rock House, we heard some strange chanting sounds but were at a complete loss as to what it could be. When we entered the cave, the sound was quite loud and came from different directions, echoing off the cave walls. It took us a bit to realize the sound was from pigeons resting on rock outcroppings high up in the cave, calling back and forth to each other. To get the full effect, turn your volume up high and play the following video. It truly was an astounding pigeon experience.
My second appreciation of pigeons came while parked on a windy day on Boot Hill in Dodge City, Kansas. Now mind you, this was day 3 of a an excruciating drive home from Utah – 2000 miles in 5 days to stay out ahead of the line of storms that stretched from Maine to the Gulf. I was getting a little stir crazy. While waiting for Jim to return with our fast food lunch, I was entertained by the pigeons who were hanging out on the roof tops. Due to the elevation of Boot Hill, the roofs were only a little higher than me so I could clearly see how the pigeons were flying in formation from rooftop to rooftop, doing their swoops, uplifts, and dives back to another roof. To me they looked like they were just having fun. They did not have any far destination in mind, there was no migration involved, no need to conserve energy for a long distance trip. One of them would just put out the signal and up they went, flying for a short burst and then down again. And then a short while later, up they’d go again, just enjoying the windy day before the storm.
But I do wonder about the ones who stay on the rooftop, don’t keep up, or fly off in their own direction to land on a different rooftop. Are they the kid who was ditched by the group, the kid in left field picking dandelions and missed the fly ball, or just that kid who dances to their own inner music?