Irfanimals: Meet the Twirlies

I love animals. Not just because they are cute, furry, fuzzy. Not just because of the special characteristics that each of them has – power, speed, strength, intellect, among many. Not just because of the way they are depicted on Animal Planet shows and viral videos. I like them very often for the small, simple, yet beautiful things they do. Things that don’t feature in any of the above shows/videos, not even in cute-marketing PETA factoids. These are things you get by just pausing and looking around. In fact, your own backyard or balcony (depending on how big your house or neighbourhood is) can make for several animal channel shows. And this series – again based on my name and my infinite love for animals; yes, I’m a huge fanimal – talks about and celebrates those. Welcome to Irfanimals. First stop, the cooers.

Pigeon on wall

Pigeons are much maligned in India. They are known to enter houses (you know, we took away their houses when we cut down the trees for our houses), are “notorious” for coming in, pooping, and flying out (hey, they just spotted a spotless place), and are widely believed to have driven away the cute, small sparrow from the city (not so; many attribute this to the burgeoning of cellphones and thus radiation towers).

But I kinda dig these plumpish packages. I love their guttural guttar-gus (‘coos’ in Hindi). I go “Aww” at the way they form romantic couples, amorously grooming and possessively safeguarding each other. I love the way they swoop around in the air – they don’t seem to fly too high, so I can easily notice their flights in a city where there are still not many houses taller than a coconut tree.

One thing I noticed not too long ago was how each of them lands, or rather, what it does immediately after landing. Wanting to take a breather from flying, Piggee spots a space with openings on all sides – typically, a border wall – and then swoops. Piggee lands, and then does a bit of a twirl. I thought this is because it’s not sure which side it wants to face – inside or outside. So, I observed some more. And then noticed that sometimes, Piggee twirls more than once; twice, thrice even. And then figured it out. It does this to get back its bearing/momentum from the flight. More the twirls, more the distance it has just flown and come, and thus more the need to get back momentum. Much like how we close our eyes on entering a dark room, do some light hand/leg movements to cool down after exercise, or use our hands to balance ourselves if we lose our centre of gravity.

Dogs have their tail wags. Cats have their sure-footed landings. Now, you know what pigeons have. They should think of branding it, to increase their popularity. Twirls R Us?


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