A few years ago, I took a photo of a man I often saw in the parks of downtown Portland. On that, and every other day I saw him, he was surrounded by pigeons. They were at his feet and waiting for the sky to rain bird seed. A couple were even poking around in his backpack while he talked on a cell phone. They knew him and expected him to reach into his bag and pull out fistfuls of lunch. I remember approaching slowly for fear of scaring the birds away. Politely I asked for permission to take pictures. He agreed. As I lifted the camera and moved in closer, the pigeons fluttered into the air and disappeared to the 4 corners of the urban park. I pressed the button somewhere in the middle of the action and this is what I captured. It’s no masterpiece, but I like it because it captured the motion of the moment. I was sorry about disturbing what seemed to be a daily ritual but, [Bird Man] didn’t seem to mind. He knew they would come back, as surely as they always had.
Yesterday at the end of my work day, I walked through the park blocks to my car. There, the [bird man] sat on a bench in the shade. Dreadlocks, free from the knit cap he wears in the winter time hung heavily from his head and he tossed seed to a throng of happy pigeons. What a shame that I wasted an opportunity, camera in hand or not, to sit for a while and learn his name. Maybe next time….