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Just How Unique are We? Part 3

I'm offline again for a couple of weeks.

The Pigeon Brain

Years ago, a friend of mine started a location-scouting business in Miami. I was the wildlife division. If a company needed an animal for a photo-shoot, I would find what they needed, manage it on location, then find a home for it afterwards. As it turned out there wasn't a lot of demand for the wildlife division.

The first call was for a parrot to take part in a Gloria Estefan video. Hopi, my yellow-naped Amazon, filled the bill. The second, and thankfully last call I got, was for a pair of white doves, to be released during a photo-shoot for a bridal magazine. I had a couple issues with that. First, the only white dove I could find also belonged to me. The same friend's daughter had found her in a cage in a schoolmate's garage, felt sorry for her, and asked if she could have her. They readily gave up Lovey (as in lovey-dovey.) I ended up with her because my friend had a bird-loving cat. (As an aside, Lovey lived for another 25 years.)

From Unlikely Animal Friends
Back to the photo-shoot: I was unwilling to toss my totally tame dove in the air and hope she found a life somewhere. I scoured the pet stores in Miami, only to discover that every white dove in the county had been recently purchased for an upcoming wedding. I did find two white pigeons, bought them, and told the director, who didn't know a bird from a bat, that they were well-fed doves. 

If you've ever watched a film being made, or a commercial being shot, you know that it requires multiple takes to get everything just right. There was no way to encourage the pigeons off the ground and expect to retrieve them for the next take, so I tied little strings around their legs, staked them out on the lawn, and sat nearby guarding them in case a hungry hawk flew by. When the shoot was over, I owed two white pigeons.

At the time, Lovey lived in a large cage on the balcony of my apartment in Coconut Grove. I brought the pigeons home (via the freight elevator) and set up a little feeding station for them on the balcony. I thought Lovey would enjoy their company, and that the pigeons would hang around until they found other digs in the wide world of pigeons. One did. The other became smitten with Lovey, who hated his guts, and his ridiculous displays--puffing up and twirling--every time he returned from wherever he went. He brought her twigs, which she rejected, snapping her wings in anger. His feelings were never hurt. He cooed softly, and napped on the other side of the wire just out of reach of her bill. It was a pitiful affair, which lasted for the next 6 years until Lovey, Hopi and Rosie, my red rat snake, and I moved to California.

baby pigeons
Here's the Pigeon Brain story from

"Gamblers in Vegas have something in common with pigeons on the sidewalk, and it's not just a fascination with shiny objects. In fact, pigeons make gambles just like humans, making choices that leave them with less money in the long run for the elusive promise of a big payout. When given a choice, pigeons will push a button that gives them a big, rare payout rather than one that offers a small reward at regular intervals. This questionable decision may stem from the surprise and excitement of the big reward, according to a study published in 2010 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Human gamblers may be similarly lured in by the idea of major loot, no matter how long the odds."

My friend's business sans a wildlife division is