Pillow fight on the 40th floor.

My buddy Randall and I were having a beer. He says he saw a pillow fight that afternoon. Feathers flying outside his window. Explain, I say.

He’s at work in an office. He gets distracted by fluttering outside, but ignores it. Snow? Shredded paper? Forget it. He goes back to work. Then there’s more. Now he turns to look. Feathers.

Two Feathers

This reminds him of a movie with sorority girls in a pillow fight. He’s all eyes. But the scenario is unlikely. He’s forty floors up, and slumber parties rarely happen in Chicago office buildings.

More feathers. A blizzard. Curious, he moves to the next window and presses his face to it. The mystery of the pillow fight is solved. And a bloody mystery it was.

There’s a Peregrine Falcon on the window ledge, pinning down a fat Chicago pigeon, one of millions. The pigeon’s being plucked and torn into strips of meat.

The beak on the Peregrine is dripping and stuck with feathers. The bird glowers. This makes Randall think of the mobster expression “wetting your beak,” which means sharing profits. A bird-eat-bird city this is.

But a Peregrine sighting is my thing. Randall knew I’d care. He described the bird: its facial marking, blue-gray coloring, spots and streaks. Strong and compact, with a razor beak.

I knew Peregrines hunt in wild country. But wild country’s scarce and big cities serve the purpose. There’s even a Peregrine release program on Chicago skyscrapers. Civic pigeon control.

This is just another way that wild things mesh with our things. There are coyotes walking into sandwich shops in downtown Chicago (see it on Youtube) and mountain lions being shot by cops on the north side of town (happened last year).

Why not have wild-eyed wild raptors with bloody beaks on a forty-story ledge? And a pillow-fight of feathers? A natural way to break up the workday.

8 Responses to “Pillow fight on the 40th floor.”

  1. Ian Layton says:

    There we go – Western Tanager!!! Nice bit of misdirection with the Scarlet Tanager on the Stories page – but nobody fell for it…yet!

  2. Sharon says:

    Found that gorgeous bird – pls enter me in the drawing for the sweatshirt.

  3. Allison Taylor says:

    Found the Western Tanager, that cutie. Please enter me in your drawing!

  4. triska says:

    Found the western tanager!

  5. Marshall Claassen says:

    Aha! Here he is! Hard to miss this one. A real beauty!

  6. Lisa says:

    I have found it!

  7. norm says:

    I always have liked Peregrine Falcons……. small , deadly missiles. Are they trainable? My daughter’s been in Calf. in recent months and has seen a large number of coyotes wandering up and down roadways. It seems like there is a lot of encroachment of wildlife into human domains recently. Are they losing their fear of us?

  8. G'Cat says:

    It’s common out here in the wilds of Pittsburgh, PA — we have two peregrine nests in the city and in the university area, and another may be starting up on one of our bridges this year!

    The occasional raft of pigeon feathers is an amusing break from the mundane matters of the day.