Up close and personal with a prodigal pigeon
According to quantum physics, there is no such thing as an objective bystander. Which might explain why I'm no longer merely observing the pigeon that I dubbed 'Little Flying Fauntleroy' and have become one of the birdseed Samaritans who feed him.
It was probably inevitable, since I live across the river from where this feathered fugitive waits in hope of getting fed. Sometimes there is no one to oblige and he cuts a forlorn figure, for all his fine feathers.
He often flies to meet me as I'm making my way over, landing on the railings of the bridge and running awkwardly alongside me for a while, before swooping ahead to our rendezvous at the ramp. I have to say it's very flattering to be greeted this way; a bit like when strange children or furry creatures take a shine to you - as opposed to trembling or bursting into tears.
It's almost a pay-off for the time it takes to do this good turn. Because providing food is only the first part of doing Fauntleroy a favour. Then you have to become his personal bird bouncer as the plummy pigeon daintily pecks at his plat du jour, warding off the crows and rooks that are understandably anxious to snatch some.
I admire their valiant if futile efforts. Some of them also give Fauntleroy and his fancy white pantaloons a run for the money in the feathered fashion stakes. One rather endearing rook sports shaggy black feathers which make him appear to be wearing a pair of culottes. While Mr Tie-Dyed (as I've nicknamed a batik-styled crow that is also partial to pilfering birdseed from my garden) looks like he's been splashed with bleach.
They may not succeed in stealing seed while this big bird is keeping watch - but they still benefit. For Fauntleroy flies off when he's had his fill, leaving them to feast on the leftovers. That's if the dastardly ducks don't get there first.
These fearless fowl issue some serious quacks when I block their path. Indeed, despite my dire warnings and urgings to scoot, sometimes they just go for it. And believe me, you haven't seen anything until you've witnessed a duck so determined to dine that it helicopters itself on to the wall before waddling at full speed - beak splayed to suction up as much seed as possible - before a reluctant lift off.
Apparently the fancy fugitive behind all the fuss perches in the back garden of a local in this country town at night. She has dubbed her little lodger 'His Majesty'. Which should make this pigeon's proper name 'His Majesty, Little Flying Fauntleroy'. Except that I recently found out that my posh pal was most likely unceremoniously dumped.
This is the fate of fancy pigeons that do not follow orders. Best he doesn't do an ET and try to phone home. For I am told that they would kill this prodigal son.
Making Fauntleroy not so much a rebel as a reject. Though in the eyes of this up-close onlooker, a very lovely one.