Yesterday, as I was walking through Washington Square Park, I had the pleasure of meeting a very interesting gentleman named William MacLeod. I was standing watching a homeless man that lived in the park (I had seen him several times before) who was feeding, holding, and playing with the park pigeons.
In seeing my observations of the pigeon man, William approached me with two pigeons on his shoulder, and one in his hand. He told me that the homeless man’s name was Larry, and that six of the pigeons playing with Larry actually belonged to him. He introduced me to Gloria, Chip, and Pinot, three of his pigeons that kept flying away from Larry’s group and hopping onto his head. (Top image: Gloria; Bottom image: Chip (left) and Gloria (right) )
William and I conversed for about 45 minutes, during which he told me about his pigeons and his love for animals. He told me how Larry used to scare him, and on days that he saw him in the park, would choose to leave. Now, William and Larry are friends, and William meets his pigeons in the park every day where they have “play time” with Larry’s pigeons. Every night, all of his pigeons fly home from the park and perch atop his Manhattan apartment.
Now what, you may ask, do pigeons have to do with squirrels? Nothing, actually. William, on the other hand, does have an association. Meet Sneaky:
Sneaky is a grey squirrel that has lived her days in Washington Square Park. She is identifiable by her tail, which is missing a chunk off of the tip; it just stops flat instead of fluffing out. On days when William stops in to see his pigeons, he also brings a bag of acorns that he has gathered off of oak trees near his house to share with his scuirine friend.
Sneaky, William informed me, received her name because of her tendency to weasel her way into peoples’ bags and belongings to scavenge her own treats. Thanks to William, though, Sneaky is now so spoiled from eating acorns, that she turns her nose at tourists giving out free peanuts. As I sat next to William on a park bench, Sneaky would run up, grab a nut from William if he was ready to hand it to her, or just pop into his bag and take one of her own. She would bolt away, bury it, and return for more. Typical squirrel behavior perhaps? How about this: Sneaky also “Protects” William from other squirrels. Any time another one tried to go over to him, she zoomed over and chased them off.
William wasn’t just an animal appreciator, but quite the character as well. He was just as endearing towards his pigeons and Sneaky as any other would be towards their dog or cat. I did crack a smile when he told Sneaky that he was tired of telling her that she needed to stop climbing on his nice suite jacket, and that she knew the rules. He took his break from feeding her and let me try, which was a wonderful experience. Sneaky sat on my lap for a minute, took the acorn from me in her little padded hands, and then ran off. I wish I could have gotten a picture!
William was one of the nicest, most intriguing park personalities I have met to date. I hope to see him again in my travels, and hopefully Sneaky, Gloria, and Chip, as well. Keep your eyes out for them if you are ever in Washington Square!