Dovetail design

Dovetail design

Recently, I found myself doing a Google search for the name of a certain type of pigeon that has come to live in our balcony. Hitherto, it was only the grey, common Indian pigeons that had been building their nests at regular intervals on our top floor balcony ledge.

This time, interestingly, it was a mixed pair, one grey and the other, a very handsome, speckled white. Unlike the grey pigeons who regard me with suspicion despite occupying rent-free space in my own balcony with janitorial services to boot, the speckled one is least intimidated by my presence, something that’s bound to rile my pigeon-shooing spouse as soon as he finds out.

One fine morning, it even ventured into our drawing room, taking a few tentative steps as if to test the waters and then scurried out. A while later, feeling a little more emboldened perhaps that no one had shooed it away, it strutted right in, doing a quiet recce of the entire hall in the manner of a potential tenant and then left, rather approvingly I thought, although only a repeat visit might confirm that.                    

In the evening, it had perched itself on the balcony railing, taking in a bird’s eye view of the drab world below. I hurried to get my camera and not wanting to frighten it, tiptoed to the window to click it. It seemed unperturbed by my movements. Now it was my turn to feel emboldened. I strode right up to the door and into the balcony and focused on it again.

And while I kept at my snapshot moments, it kept viewing me with nonchalant curiosity, tilting its head this way and that, as if to assess me from different angles. Much later it was joined by its grey partner who must have signalled it a warning to be wary of humankind, because all of a sudden they both fluttered away to the building opposite from where they kept vigil from a very safe distance.

What flummoxed me during a routine balcony clean-up, however, was the discovery of a bunch of nearly even-sized wire bits scattered on the floor. Quite certain that I had no wire scrap lying at home, I was amazed to learn that it was indeed the pigeons that had brought them in, dovetailing them with slender twigs to construct and reinforce their designer home! These urbanised pigeons had evolved to become sophisticated in their techniques and choice of building materials.

I couldn't help thinking that while sustainable architecture may be the current buzzword in green design, its practicality is what urbanised humans could relearn from the ingenious birds of the air!

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