The Judgment of Pigeons

Ear­li­er this month Freako­momics post­ed a pic of a car cov­ered in bird drop­pings and linked to a study that found that pigeons can be taught to dif­fer­en­ti­ate “good” paint­ings from “bad”.

This brought to mind a time when I was sub­ject­ed to the judge­ment of a bird.

My par­ents had a cot­tage on Magi­cian Lake in Michi­gan and so a fair amount of time in the sum­mer was spent up there. As cot­tages go, it was nice, but it was a cot­tage. Many of the “cot­tages” on the lake looked more like a pri­ma­ry res­i­dence (though few were), but ours was a nice cot­tage with a short pier and a cou­ple of row boats.

I remem­ber sev­er­al of us, my sib­lings and myself and per­haps a guest or two, were in the front yard more or less gath­ered around the table singing. I don’t know what we were singing, but singing we were. We were not in the habit of singing all the time, but with enough reg­u­lar­i­ty that any one time did not seem out of the ordinary.

I loved to sing, though I sus­pect I was not so good at it (I still love to sing and I’m sure I’m bet­ter now than I was then, but how much that says.…). At any rate, the song end­ed on a long dra­mat­ic note and I tipped my head back and real­ly belt­ed it out. And in the mid­dle of that note, a bird in the tree above judged me to not be such a good singer.

With laser pre­ci­sion the drop­ping found its way through the small gap between the top of my glass­es and my eye­brow and hit me square in the eye.

I knew imme­di­ate­ly what had hap­pened. I flung my glass­es off and ran the few feet to the lake and pret­ty much dunked my face into the water sev­er­al times. I don’t remem­ber much else about it.

I assume that every­one got a good laugh at my expense. Geez, I hope so. What a waste of mate­r­i­al if no one laughed at that!

At least it did­n’t plop right into my wide open mouth.

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