“Ding-a-ring-a-ding” the alarm clock sounds.
Randy blinks her eyes and stretches her legs. She stands on one foot at a time and stretches her wings. Then she puffs and wiggles her feathers into place and takes a deep breath. Today is the first day of school.
Professor Peeps is outside the Andi’s window with the other students ready to start class. Andi leans out the window and says, “Just a moment Professor Peeps, Randy just woke up and needs to eat some breakfast. Would you and the other students like to have a morning snack?” Andi scoops two handfuls of seed from the feed bag, placing one in Randy’s bowl inside and the other in the guest bowl outside. Then she pours two bowls of fresh water, placing one for Randy inside and the other for their guests outside.
The birds gather around their bowls to peck at the seeds and water. A good breakfast is necessary for a great day at school. It is so fun to eat together knowing how much energy they will have to learn and play.
Before Randy leaves, Andi checks her ID bracelet. This morning Andi gives Randy two ID bracelets, one with Andi’s phone number and the other with Randy’s favorite color, blue. The ID bracelet lets strangers know that Randy is a special bird and is cared for by a human. It also lets humans know who to call if Randy gets lost or hurt while playing or exploring. When Andi wants to check on Randy, the color blue helps Andi see Randy flying high in the sky with her classmates.
It’s time to go to school! Andi opens the window and Randy hops over the sill and onto the tree branch with her class. Professor Peeps nods and cocks his head from side to side acknowledging Andi, Randy and the other students. He turns and spreads his wings, and so do his students. Andi waves, “Goodbye, be careful. Come home soon!”
In flight, Randy asks Professor Peeps, “What are we learning today?”
The students land on a telephone wire and Professor Peeps stands on the top of the telephone pole beside them to teach the class. “Today we are learning about danger.”
“Can anyone tell me what to do if you see danger?”
They all looked from side to side at each other and one student made a low sound like an owl. “Hoot.”
“That’s right!” said Professor Peeps. “We all stick together because there is safety in numbers. If you aren’t with your flock, always use the buddy system.”
“Can anyone tell me what danger looks like?”
“Her mommy!” one little bird pointed to Randy, who backed away from the group with embarrassment.
“Well,” Professor Peeps began, “Randy’s mommy is a human and we have to be careful around humans, but Andi is our friend. We know this because she gives us a safe place to land, feeds us and takes good care of Randy.
Humans were actually our friends for hundreds of years. Pigeons lived with them and ran errands for them. Pigeons were their postal service delivering mail to other humans. We helped them in times of war because we could fly places unsafe for humans to go, through battlegrounds and behind enemy lines. They once loved us and called us doves. Only since the rise of industry in the 20th century, big buildings, factories, transportation and delivery services, humans no longer need us. They forgot that we were friends. Now we have to be very careful and fly away when they come near.”
While Professor Peeps talked, Randy came closer again. “But it seems so natural to love them,” Randy said. “I understand what Andi says to me and I know what to do around her friends and family. I don’t know why. I just do.”
“That’s because domestication, which means living with humans, is part of your family history. It’s what we call an adaptation. It means that even though you’re a bird, just like dogs and cats, you already know that you love humans because of your intelligence and kind heart. That makes you special. It’s the reason that all pigeons like to live in cities, but safety must come first.”
Professor Peeps took the class on a tour of the area. He showed them the dangers of airplanes and how to hear them coming. He showed them the beauty of the ocean and the comfort of resting in the warm sand dunes. He showed them how to find food in the tall palm trees. Then he escorted each of them home to their families.
Andi found Randy waiting on the window sill to come inside. “Well, Hello Little Bird! How was your day at school?”
Randy flew up to Andi’s shoulder and nuzzled in her hair. “I love you mommy and I’m special too.”