Relocating Phyllis

It is not uncommon for a Pigeon to wander in to one of our Boulanges…no doubt tempted by the crumbs of almond croissants that sprinkle the floor underneath our sample platter, and so the staff knows to walk towards them and usher them in the direction of the front door….coaxing them back outside where they belong. Occasionally, the coaxing does not work, and the birds decide to take flight. Typically, this means someone has to catch them to send them on their way again. I’ve seen this scenario play out enough times to not be surprised by it.

At our Polk street store, we’ve been introduced to a particularly cheeky pigeon. She figured out quickly that if she flies up into the spacious loft-style windows above the entry, then no one can easily get to her and she can watch the comings and goings of the busy Boulange undisturbed. She’ll occasionally fly a lap around the dining room, but seems content to perch at the front of the store more often than not. The staff at Polk street has named her Phyllis, and much to our dismay, she has grown more and more comfortable over the last week or so. We were fearful that her lazy circle around the dining room might begin to include a dive-bomb snatch and grab style attack on a dining table, or that the pastry case might be a future target, and so we could not continue to let her feel so welcome. We decided to take her to Golden Gate Park.

Yesterday, when she sauntered in and made her morning appearance, we set to the work of capturing her. We set a ladder below the window she’s most comfortable in, but every trip we made to the top of the ladder resulted in a stressful escape attempt by her, sending her into the windows and then circling the dining room. We have to replace the step ladder we’re using with a larger ladder that will get someone up on the platform where she likes to stay, and we wait.

Watching while we wait for her to get comfortable seeing the ladder beneath her, a curious customer wanders up and asks, “So, do you think she’ll just climb down the ladder?”

“Actually, that would be nice if she did,” we reply. No such luck.

Levi, the lucky one going up the ladder, ingeniously ties an apron to the end of a pole, and as he ascends, he slowly lowers the apron over Phyllis, until her flapping attempts of escape subside. She is cornered and her attempts to fly out the windows are met with thuds. Watching him, you might think he’s done this before….He hops up to the platform and gently wraps her in another apron until she’s bundled and brings her down. She went for a brief ride in Levi’s truck before being safely deposited in the park.

This morning, on my visit to Polk, I look up to the window where Phyllis liked to perch, feeling victorious. We didn’t hurt her and she will no longer be a fixture……and I see a new pigeon has
picked up where she left off.

Cheeky, cheeky pigeons.