Christopher Benson, pigeon whisperer

Christopher Benson and Lopez, a pigeon he is fostering. Credit: Bess Adler, Metro
Christopher Benson and Lopez, a pigeon he is fostering.
Credit: Bess Adler, Metro

Christopher Benson is unlike many New Yorkers in one big way: he likes pigeons.

In fact, he finds other people’s distate for pigeons “really bizarre.”

“The idea is that pigeons are garbage, you know?” he said. “I don’t know, the whole ‘flying rat’ thing.”

But Benson said that perception couldn’t be more wrong.

“They’re not dumb, by any means,” he said. “They’re really inquisitive. They have personalities. They’re sweet, they’re affectionate.”

Since rescuing his first bird — who he named Boy George before discovering it needed to be euthanized after its wing was almost completely torn off — Benson and his girlfriend have saved a total of seven injured pigeons.

He has taken two of them home to his Bushwick apartment.

The first one he found huddled on a ledge in Union Square. Benson took her to the Wild Bird Fund Center on the Upper West Side, where they gave him medicine to treat her lead poisoning. But, ultimately, she was too sick and died. He went back to the center.

“I think they expected me to walk away,” he recalled.

But Benson didn’t — at least not empty-handed. He left the center that day with a baby pigeon named Lopez, named for the person who rescued him. Lopez, who had no “butt feathers,” needed foster care until he could be released into the wild.

Benson said he keeps the bird in a dog carrier in front of his open window “so he can acclimate to the winter, because he’s going to be released and it’s going to be cold.” Lopez gets to wander around in the large loft bathroom for exercise.

Benson and Lopez have grown very close.

Lopez sneezed one night and, concerned that life in front of the open window had gotten to the little guy, Benson decided to sit in the bathroom with the bird and watch for any other signs that he might be sick. Benson said he sat watching the bird for 20 minutes before starting to nod off. He put Lopez’ cage on the floor and Lopez hopped right in. When Benson went to give him food and water in as well, Lopez bobbed his head at Benson’s retreating hand. Benson put his hand back in the cage, and Lopez nuzzled between his fingers.

“He actually started to preen me,” Benson said. “It was really cute.”

But Benson is looking forward to Lopez’s release into the wild — he said he anticipates his winged buddy will be set free in Central Park.

He worries a little about Lopez growing up without important survival skills, like dodging cars and knowing not to perch on the third rail on outdoor subway tracks.

But Benson’s cat appears to be lending a hand, or a paw, in that department. Intrigued by the feathered thing wandering around the bathroom, the cat has been swiping his paw under the door. Lopez has seemed equally intrigued, scampering up to the paw, but so far has successfully darted just out of reach every time.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Eric Garner death prompts NYPD retraining, pols demanding…

The New York City Police Department will revise training procedures for its officers following the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner after an arrest gone awry.

National

Parched Texas town turns to sewage water to…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - When the going got tough due one of with worst droughts in a century, the parched Texas city of Wichita…

International

NYPD: Robber makes elderly man drive to Queens…

A robber grabbed an elderly man's neck outside a Queens supermarket, stole his wallet and made him drive to ATMs for withdrawals last week, police said.

Local

Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

NFL

5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.

Parenting

Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.