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Friday, 29 July 2016

Pigeons and the French

Life is full of small puzzles: why for example were there recently eight hour long  queues on English motorways as people tried to cross into France? The official explanation was that the French were, understandably, being over-zealous checking incomers after the recent terrorist attacks. Having said that, having only one policeman checking the passports of car passengers and each individual on every coach doesn’t suggest any great sense of urgency. Nor does it address the question of why there weren’t similar queues and equally rigorous checking on other nations bordering France. Does Schengen trump security, especially when it’s in neighbouring countries like Germany and Belgium where terrorism is most rife? Never mind. Just one of life’s puzzles.

Another thing that has me puzzled are pigeons. There are hundreds of thousands of them. Millions. But have you ever seen a dead one? With so many of them the streets should be littered with dead pigeons. The old C19th concept of a mythical  ‘Elephants’ Graveyard,’ is highly romantic. A Pigeons’ Graveyard, less so. But where do they go?

A Smithsonian scientist offers one explanation. It’s convincing enough, with the caveat that Britain is not well endowed with possums, raccoons or Turkey vultures.  

My final puzzle also concerns pigeons. Who taught them morse code?

I’m serious. I’m woken up every morning by one. Unfortunately it knows only the letter L which it repeats ad infinitum:   . _  .  . 
Walking to town later that day, I heard other pigeons, each of which jealously guarded their own unique letter. I heard a U   .  .  ­_
  a P .  ­­_  _  . 
 a Q  _  _  .  _

I think I’ve found a new hobby. And I’m wondering whether if you put enough pigeons together they might eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare in Morse, though that would, I suppose, depend on their longevity.



4 comments:

Maria Zannini said...

More likely the dying or dead pigeon was eaten by its mates.

Birds are unbelievably brutal with other sick and dying birds. They will tear them apart at the first hint of weakness. I've seen it many times in many different bird species.

LD Masterson said...

Perhaps the Morse code is part of a flock-wide warning system and that's why you never see any dead pigeons.

Hey, I like my idea better than Maria's.

Mike Keyton said...

Maria, how can you malign these intelligent, morse cooing birds?

Mike Keyton said...

LD, you're suggesting they remove the bodies on hearing a morse code warning? But to where? Restaurants where no questions are asked?