So I saw a woodpigeon on a fence recently. Nothing strange about that you might think except that it wasn’t what it seemed. What I SAW was a woodpigeon moving slightly on a fence with its head bobbing in a typical way for that species. When I got a better view the reality was quite different. So was it a ghost bird?
It was, in fact, a line of sight misperception What I really saw was a hanging ornamental lamp (not illuminated) in front of a hanging flower basket. The two objects were maybe 20m away, just behind a fence (yes that bit was real!). It was a dull overcast windy day. It is the flower basket that produced the overall rotund shape that was the woodpigeon’s ‘body’. The lamp swinging gently in the wind produced the apparent bobbing head. The two objects overlapped with the top of the fence as though sitting on it. Add to all this my not great eyesight and the misperception was hardly surprising.
The ‘woodpigeon’ could only be seen from one specific direction. The distance and dull lighting helped as, closer in, I would easily have seen what it really was, even at first glance. The motion of the lamp contributed hugely to the misperception suggesting a bobbing head so the wind was crucial too. So it was also an example of a coincidence (see here) causing a strange paranormal report. Anyone investigating the 'ghost woodpigeon' would be highly unlikely to witness it for themselves. It required the right witness (eyesight), correct position (distance. line of sight), specific lighting, correct wind (motion of the lamp) and so on. An investigator might well conclude the sighting was unexplainable and hence probably paranormal. This despite all the objects producing the misperception still being in place for any investigator to see!
These sort of incidents make me conclude that many apparently unexplainable reports are probably nothing of the sort. I thinlk the truly unexplainable is probably a lot less common than we might suppose. PS: Photo above right is not a woodpigeon!
Author :© Maurice Townsend 2020
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