An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

I’m writing this inside a confessional

Do you believe in God? Karma? What about witches? Ghosts? How about signs? Do you believe in signs? I’m sorry, do I need to give you more time to think? Is it none of my business? Have any of you answered out loud yet? Nodded? Shrugged? Sent me a Facebook message telling me to reconnect with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

(You probably wouldn’t be surprised by how many times that has happened. Hint: many of my Facebook friends are Southern and religious. So, visiting Facebook is like visiting the Lord’s website. And he is so pissed!)

Last night Coco was sitting next to one of the glass panes flanking the front door—it’s her new favorite place to practice her crazy—when suddenly out of nowhere she started barking so hard I thought her jaw might fall off. I was in another room, assumed it was a person or a dog walking by the house, so I ran into the foyer and pulled her away from the door. I may or may not have called her a few nasty names while doing so BECAUSE THAT ALWAYS WORKS.

I’d love to see a collection of video clips of the useless, reflexive and profane yelling that owners of herding dogs do throughout the day. And how we always think, THIS time she heard me.

I let my guard down for two seconds and she was right back next to the front door barking (“I just called you a total shit! Did you not take me seriously?”) so I ran back to the foyer, made her sit, and then I looked out onto the porch to see what was making her so deranged.

Let me clear my throat for just a second because I suddenly have an impulse to tell you that I believe in witches.


Sitting at the far edge of the porch was a relatively large white bird. The only white bird I have ever seen in Utah is a seagull. This was not a seagull. And it was just sitting there, eerily still, staring at the front door. I immediately ran up to the office to grab the camera and a memory card hoping that it would still be there when I got back. And it was.

So, let me talk this through for a second. A white bird that I have never seen in Utah is sitting on my porch and neither Coco’s deafening barking or my rapid shutter clicking causes it to fly away. WHY ARE YOU HERE, BIRD? Ghosts are supposed to talk to me through appliances, NOT WILD ANIMALS.

Oh, no. Do I believe in ghosts? If you’re a ghost and you’re reading this, can you leave a comment? Oh, wait. You can’t because your fingers would just float right through the keyboard. WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

I walked back into the house and, after letting out an involuntary shriek, I called Tyrant. Yes, he’s evil and would pull a prank on Hellen Keller. However, he grew up with chickens and might have an idea about why this WHITE BIRD I HAVE NEVER SEEN IN UTAH is just sitting there on my porch. And he probably doesn’t want to be exposed like this, but there is a large beating heart in that man’s chest. And sometimes? Sometimes he has thoughts about things other than torturing me.

But he wasn’t answering his phone, and while I left a message I looked out the window and watched that white bird walk HOLY SHIT up to the welcome mat and sit not two feet from the front door.

A white bird. Sitting on the welcome mat. At my front door. You just started to believe in witches.

Coco’s brain was leaking out of her nose at this point, so I had to take her upstairs and put her in her crate while I figured out what to do. OKAY. One: putting a dog in a crate is not cruel DO NOT EVEN GO THERE. Two: Of course I had to do something! There was a white bird sitting at my front door! What if it was someone’s pet? What if it was the spirit of my dead Uncle Doug? What if it had a little note tied around its ankle containing the exact date and time of the rapture? (Oh, the bragging I would do on Facebook.)

So I called Animal Control, and this is where I am gifting you screenwriters your next scene, because I’m sure the woman put me on speaker phone so that she and everyone else could laugh at the idiot freaking out about a bird.

“There is what?”


“And it’s doing what?”


“And you’re concerned because?”

“BECAUSE? BECAUSE?! Haven’t you heard of the Book of Revelation?!”

She told me they didn’t handle cases like this (ANIMAL CONTROL IS NOT CONCERNED WITH THE END OF THE WORLD), so she gave me the number of the highway patrol and this is getting more ridiculous with every letter I type. Highway patrol. High-way. Pa-trol. Let me just quote what it says on their website: “Our current area of emphasis is to reduce crime and crashes through proactive policing.” And I’m supposed to call them about the bird on my porch.

“Hey, guys! Listen. I know you’re currently on a dangerous, high-speed chase with a drunk driver, but I’ve got a fucking bird staring the shit out of my front door.”

Luckily Tyrant called me back and said he was out with friends and could come check it out in about an hour. So I did what any sane person would do and sat down next to the window pane and spent some quality time with my special white bird. At this point it had wandered over into a corner right next to the window and would look up at me every time I tapped on the pane. It knew I was there.

I fought the nagging instinct to pick it up and bring it inside where it was much warmer, so you can stop worrying that I did something stupid like that. You would be more than justified thinking that I’d do just that, pick up and cuddle a bird that could potentially be carrying a disfiguring disease. We all know my brain is full of Skittles. But I thought of my children and decided that it was nice not having them in a hospital.

When Tyrant finally showed up, the diagnosis was sadly evident. The bird was really sick. So sick, in fact, that it didn’t even flinch when he picked it up and set it inside a cardboard box we’d lined with a small towel. I said a final goodbye before he took it away, before he googled some key words about sick birds, hit a store for medicine and supplies, and tried to keep it comfortable for the night.

It was dead before morning.

A strange white bird chose my doorstep as the place it wanted to spend its last few hours alive. I just wrote 1,200 words about it, but damn. I am so not ready to think about it.


  • Cosmo3807

    I logged on to gently tease you for um, well, totally overreacting to a poor little sick/old bird that just happened to end up on your porch. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, ya know?

    But I read all the comments & apparently I am way out of line for even thinking about teasing you, however gently I had planned.

    So now, I am here to offer an apology for not taking this seriously for you. I am truly sorry. I stand corrected.

    I’m always sad when a little creature of any ilk dies. Even if I had teased, I still would have – and do – commend you and Tyrant for doing whatever you could for the little guy in its last hours. I can’t say I believe too much in omens. But Karma feels real to me. I believe your sweet heartfelt compassion will generate all kinds of positive Karma that will offset any negativity from the sad ending.

    All things considered, imo you should see this as a positive experience. Every living creature has to die, and you had the honor of comforting this particular spirit as it crossed over.

    Love you Heather! (In an internet kind of way, not a creepy stalker way. Sorry, but I felt like I had to make that distinction). Take care and don’t let any organized religion bullshit mess with your psyche.

  • amanda-rants

    I come across a dead bird every few months. I typically place them in a nearby trashcan, which to me is somewhat more dignified than leaving them in the road or on the sidewalk or wherever else I find them. It used to happen so frequently that I thought I should take it as some sort of terrible sign. I’m usually by myself when I find them. However, my last two relationships ended shortly after finding a dead bird together with my boyfriends. The first of those two boyfriends and I saw a lot of dead animals together, we even saw three deer try to jump across a parkway and consecutively get hit.

    Anyway, I’m sorry. Birds are mysterious creatures and I feel weirdly connected to them.

    I’ve definitely put way too much thought into this, it probably just means I’m observant and isn’t a sign at all.

  • josita

    FWIW – Here’s a lengthy but fascinating excerpt from “Animal-Speak, the Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small” by Ted Andrews:

    The pigeon has a long history associated with the home and with fertility. The real name of Christopher Columbus was “Colombo” which is the Italian word for “pigeon.” Columbus helped discover a new home. The pigeon also has an extraordinary homing sense. It knows how to find its way back home, no matter how far it has gone.

    It is because of this that they often are symbols for a time or a need to return to the security of home. Pigeons can teach us how to find our way back when we are lost. They help us to remember and find the love of home and homelife that we have either given up or lost. They are the only bird that can drink by sucking up water into their beaks. This reflects that ability to draw on the energies of home, no matter how distant.

    They are reminders to us to remember that which has positively affected us from our early home life. Have we forgotten who we are? Are we falling into old patterns we vowed to remember and change? Have we forgotten our basic foundations, the heritage we have had passed on to us through home and family? This includes the morals, the behaviors, the attitudes, etc. Draw upon them and use them.

    Because they breed rapidly and publicly, pigeons came to be sacred symbols for fertility gods and goddesses. They reflect the fertility of home and family that can occur when they are around. Pigeons will huddle together during a storm. If there are storms in your life, huddle with your family–biological or otherwise. There will be safety and security in that activity. Remember that pigeons remind us of the possibilities, real and ideal, associated with home and family.

  • charisadee

    I love birds and I do believe in signs, ghosts, and all the like.

    But more importantly I do believe that beautiful bird was put there to be inspiration for a Cami outfit. If anyone could wear white feathers with dipped edges it would be her.

  • Stephani

    Aww, sorry Heather. 🙁

  • Stephani


    I agree with Erin…this was one of my favorite posts ever.


  • bawb23

    Two words: West Nile.

    You’re welcome.

  • Sabine

    Aw! I love this story even though it’s sad. Thank you for sitting with the bird and making calls on his behalf, and although I didn’t think it was possible to love Tyrant any more, I totally do.

  • leesuhrenay

    that is that and this is this

  • filmlady

    I did a quick google for white dove, and this came up:

    I’ve never heard of her before, but I always believe the universe throws stuff at you for a reason.

    And you and the dove? You shared a special moment in time. Not “special” like “riding-the-short-school-bus” type of special. But very real.

    I also think @josita hit the mark.
    Many hugs for you.

  • susanruffin

    should we demand an autopsy?

  • stephdk70

    Thanks for trying to care for him.

  • horn

    This post and its comments are better than any church service I’ve ever been to. Feeling lots of gratitude and wonder about it all. xo

  • deborahjmum

    Wanted to say you should be related to Sheldon on Big Bang Theory who REALLY freaks out about birds!
    Also, we used to keep and train racing pigeons (which come in all colours) and, one thing about them — they mate for life!

  • ELP

    Very sad..It’s like he needed you in his/her final hours. Poor bird. Your poor mind!!!

  • mleah

    I keep expecting to hear that Mike Tyson showed up on your doorstep looking for his missing pigeon.

  • cory212

    Too bad no one from NYC was with you cause that there is (was) a pigeon. I live amongst those rats with wings every day. Blech.

  • juliejackson

    A few years ago, this chicken appeared suddenly in our front yard when I walked outside. It was New Year’s Day. Just one chicken, that was all. I had never seen an ornamental chicken in my life. Still not sure what that was about.

  • mirenis

    A couple of years ago a homing pigeon showed up at our door. It seems he wasn’t very good at his job. He still had an identification band around his foot so I got as close as I could and snapped some pictures so I could read the number. I tried calling the American Homing Pigeon Association to figure out who the little guy (we called him Charley) belonged to. Unfortunately after a couple of days we were still unable to get in touch with the owner (they moved) so we took him to our vet. They said they would give him to a lady who rescues birds and he would have a happy life hanging out with some new bird buddies. I am sorry your bird did not have the same luck.

  • toad97

    years ago when my husband I first moved South from the DC area, I saw this giant bird that looked like a turkey in my back yard. We lived in a regular suburban neighborhood, not out in the country, and the weird thing was it was Thanksgiving day. I figured someone’s dinner had escaped. Years later, I realized it was probably what is known as a Turkey Buzzard and got to see one up close and personal – ugliest damn animals ever! Not sure what kind of omen that was supposed to be….

  • acm

    I really, really, want a recording of the call in which you report to Animal Control that you are being menaced by a pigeon. They’d be living off the grins for years!! 🙂

    Poor pootie (you, that is, not the bird)…

  • zchamu

    You know… I think he came someplace he saw as warm and safe. We all want to feel safe when we’re slipping the bonds of this earth, I think. And your home was that for this bird. That says a lot about the energy you’ve created around yourself.

    But I’d feel a little weirded, too.

  • Woon

    Doves that are released at weddings, etc. can’t care for themselves and often die. We found one in our neighborhood a few months ago. Totally uncool.

    I’m glad you and Tyrant gave it comfort.

  • jsides

    First of all, this post reminded me of why I love you (and yes I am one of those “Southern and religious” readers 🙂 This is just brilliant and classic Dooce. Since you consider yourself part southern too, do you know about the old, southern myth about birds at night? Well, my grandfather used to tell me that if you see or hear a bird at night that it is a sign someone you know is going to die. I guess it is similar to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. Scary and weird, I know but just a silly old urban legend.

  • Ariel0717

    Awwwwwwww – I THANK you for making the bird (that looks like a pigeon) comfortable until it passed. That was good karma indeed! 🙂 You guys rock!!!!

  • Diorama

    Dove and pigeon are the same as far as symbolism. It is a sign of peace. It’s a good sign for you, even though the poor bird passed away. For him to appear on your doorstep in the evening (L’heure bleue) was a powerful sign. It literally means peace will come to you now.

  • REBottoni

    Probably an albino, they don’t live very long. There are albinos in most species, none of them live very long.

  • VickiG.

    My pigeon didn’t survive either. Thank you for writing about this because this was completely how I felt.

  • OldMuthaHen

    Damn you, HEATHER!!! This post made me cry. CRY CRY CRY. Of course I have the seasonal problem of being depressed right now for no reason (other than change of seasons), and then the bird dying. DEVASTATING.

    I fully blame Tyrant.

  • iliekcheeze

    if i were you, i’d have told that bird to FUCK OFF!

  • Carrieboo

    This is a rock dove (pigeon)…not native to America but there are alot of them now since some person decided to bring them over from Europe years and years ago as pets, now look!
    Some people refer to them as “rats with wings”.
    It was sick or had something broken, nothing you or anyone could have done…part of nature.

  • aladria

    Just love this post. I’m the same way w/ animals. Bless your hearts for helping this little being (not religiously, I mean). The comments were great to read too…gives me a little less despair re. how animals are treated in our world.

  • LynnFlynn

    I don’t care what people say about this because my brain is full of Skittles too and I would have done the exact same thing. This past fall I found a baby squirrel in my yard. It was clearly injured and barley hanging on so I lined a box with a towel and filled a pop bottle with warm water to put under the towel. I figured it should die comfortably. The only reason I didn’t bring it inside was because I could hear my fiance in my head saying “No Manda, DO NOT bring it in the house”.

  • JuStjANe

    Birds in your house are a sign of good luck.

  • thefirecat

    No no no, white bird = GOOD. I am glad it had someone to love and care for it during the last night of its life. Maybe you needed each other. I don’t know why, but maybe you needed to be two souls next to each other for a little bit.

    Loving another being and caring for it is always a good thing. The world is not ending. Not even for the bird. 🙂 And not even for you. It’s not your fault the bird died. I promise. Do you hear me? It’s not your fault.

    (also, “my brain is made of Skittles” is now in the running for next month’s banner, right?)

  • AshesVonDust

    Some people say I give terrible advice, but I really think you should regularly wear this around town:

  • Pixie


  • AliciaMaria

    I want to hang out with everyone who posted comments in here about this awesome bird. These are some amazing people. <3

  • jenwilson

    Oh, the poor bird. 🙁 You have an amazing amount of empathy for animals and it’s too bad there aren’t more people like you in the world.

    I’m finally catching up on your posts from the last couple weeks and I have to say, they are brilliant.

  • darkstar

    Okay so, this one time I was home alone on a day off (before kid, obviously) and I was expecting a package delivery so I went to check the front door to see if they’d left a slip.

    Opened the door, there was a pigeon sitting on the welcome mat STARING INTO MY EYES. I did what any sane person would do: screamed loudly at it and slammed the door.

    Reopened the door to see if it was still there AND IT WAS. Just stood there, dancing from foot to foot like it needed to pee, staring at me.

    The next morning it was dead on the welcome mat with a little trail of blood coming out of its pigeon nostrils.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more