When Ramona Kelly got home to her apartment in Washington Heights last week, she found something weird on her bed: a small round object that looked like a ping pong ball and one stick next to it.
She picked it up, moved it around in her hands—and it felt like there was liquid inside. “And that’s when I realized, like, pigeons do hang out on the windowsill in the apartment building,” she said.
Kelly realized a pigeon must have flown into her room and laid an egg on her comforter. She started freaking out.
But it turns out the bird picked the right apartment. Kelly called her cousin, Elizabeth Carlen, a pigeon researcher in Manhattan with a doctorate in biology.
“At which point we’re both kind of cracking up because who has that happen?” said Carlen. “It’s such a kind of New York experience to have a pigeon come into your bedroom and decide to lay an egg on your bed.”
She said the lone stick next to the egg was actually the mama bird’s attempt at a nest. Pigeons are notorious for building flimsy homes, Carlen said, because they live on rocky ledges in the wild and need only a few twigs to keep the eggs from rolling off.
The bird’s approach was completely relatable:
As someone who’s 33 weeks pregnant but hasn’t done anything to prepare my home for a baby yet, I’m FEELING this pigeon-mom’s energy right now.
— Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman (@jessicahindman) April 29, 2021
And, maybe pigeons are onto something:
Marie Kondo approves. Extra sticks do not bring joy.
— that’s Dr. Bintie to you (@bintie) April 29, 2021
Kelly’s bed isn’t the only weird place New York City pigeons have tried to make a home. There was the time a pigeon built a nest in a pasta strainer in a Brooklyn kitchen. A few weeks ago, one left an egg teetering precariously on the metal railing of a fire escape.
The pigeon had attempted to bring more sticks into the bedroom but ultimately only the one ended up on the bed in the final nest. pic.twitter.com/qln6Zl3iNN
— Dr. Elizabeth Carlen (@E_Carlen) April 29, 2021
In the end, Carlen told her cousin to throw the egg out, and advises anyone who finds a pigeon egg in their home to do the same. She said pigeons have an intense sense of home, and they go back to the place they’re raised.
“I did not want Ramona to have to be dealing with pigeons continuing to come into her house to nest or hang out on her windowsill, because it can be rather stressful,” she said.
She doesn’t advise moving the egg somewhere else, because the mama bird won’t be able to find it. She said anyone who is concerned about a pigeon egg or a baby bird can also contact the Wild Bird Fund, which cares for sick or injured birds in New York City.
Listen to Katherine Fung’s report on WNYC:
Carlen said while the idea of discarding a pigeon’s egg can be upsetting, it’s actually okay to throw it out when the egg is found in one’s house.
She said pigeons aren’t native or endangered birds, and they are rapid breeders.
“They’ll have offspring every approximately six weeks,” Carlen said. “And so she will be out there having more baby birds pretty soon.”
She said the bird will find another place to lay her next eggs—hopefully not on someone’s memory foam mattress.