Charlie Girl

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Ashley Kinney of the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center & Charlie

Ashley Kinney, Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley with Charlie

On July 28th, two wild, unreleasable pigeons came in to Palomacy’s care via the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.

Charlie had been found as an orphaned fledgling and surrendered a couple weeks earlier. A couple of days after Charlie arrived, fledgling Pirate, with his obvious head trauma and bashed in eye, was brought in. It wasn’t until then, when the fledglings were housed together, that Charlie’s blindness was recognized.

Blind pigeon looking intently at the viewer

Charlie

Pirate the pigeon

Pirate

The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley counts pigeons amongst the many creatures they help

The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley counts pigeons amongst the many creatures they help

Charlie and Pirate comforted each other as fledgling pigeons always do and it was thought the childhood sweethearts might grow into a married couple but, as they matured, one-eyed Pirate grew impatient with blind Charlie. She couldn’t see his cues and appreciate his displays. They had to be housed separately. When Palomacy took them in, Pirate moved into my foster aviary and Charlie into her own cage in the special needs bird room. Charlie’s inability to respond to the constant visual cues pigeons exchange makes her strange to other birds and a target of bullying. She needs to be in a safe environment. And, she’ll need a very gentle, patient mate who will see her for who she really is. We haven’t found him yet, but we will.

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Pirate & Charlie share a quiet moment

Special birds JJ, Bug & Charlie hanging out in the bird room (with my dog Ruby)

Special birds JJ, Bug & Charlie hanging out in the bird room (with my dog Ruby)

In the meantime, Charlie savors life. She is an inspiration. She loves to soak in a bathtub, bask in the sun, shower in the rain, flap her wings with joy, amaze people with her serenity at loud, hectic outreach events (she is an amazing ambassador!), snuggle in loving arms and fiercly attack the ears of too-chatty humans.

Anne & Charlie

Anne & Charlie

Little girl petting pigeon

Making new friends

Laughing person with pigeon on her shoulder

Charlie’s pecks make Jill crack up

During the day, she hangs out in the gentle-enough-for-now Littles’ aviary. The other pigeons housed there haven’t really befriended her but they don’t bother her either. She hangs out listening to the world turn around her and at dusk I bring her indoors to her own cage.

Charlie spends the day with a gentle flock

Charlie spends the day with a gentle flock

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Charlie (far right) with the Littles flock

Family meeting Charlie

Charlie making new friends

Once back in her own cage in the bird room, Charlie can totally relax and not have to worry about anything unexpected. She’s in charge of everything in her cage, where everything is always in the same place and nobody else ever gets in the way. Then, in the morning, she commutes back outside to the aviary for her day with the flock.

Charlie in her private space

Charlie in her private space

Sighted pigeons choose each seed they eat deliberately and eat all their favorites first (usually safflower) and then all their second favorites, etc. but since Charlie can’t see, she doesn’t have that luxury. So, in addition to her regular food bowl which has pigeon feed made up of many seed types, I gave her a special little food bowl that I periodically fill up with treat seeds only (usually safflower) so that she can have the fun of “choosing” and always getting a favorite seed.

Pirate has grown up in to a beautiful bird and while he and Charlie grew apart, he is currently courting a very lovely self-rescuer named July in a foster-to-adopt home.

Handsome Pirate the Pigeon Man

Handsome Pirate the Pigeon Man

Meanwhile, Charlie is content. She trusts that the future holds good things for her. She’ll do best in a home as an indoor pet pigeon. She needs a little time to learn her way around her environment but she’s very clever and once she does, she gets around great. Ideally, her people will chaperone her through a courtship with a gentle male (we’ll help with all that) so that she can eventually have the best of both worlds- people and pigeon. (Apply here to foster or adopt Charlie.) I love all her endearing ways and so when I took this little video of her being cute and sleepy and beak-smacky, I almost didn’t post it but I’m glad I did. She nearly broke Instagram with all the views and shares she got! Clearly I’m not the only one who sees her charms.

One of Charlie’s very special friends, Ellie, writes,

Charlie sleeps indoors in a house of her own where she knows the location of her food, water, furniture. On most days (when she’s not at an outreach), she visits with the “smalls” in the outdoor aviary, listening to the world around her, basking in the sun, and feeling the fresh air. Sometimes she seems to be paying attention to something only she can detect. Perhaps she can “see” something (with her UV sight), or hear something (with her infrasound hearing) that we cannot. She is a content bird. Charlie knows her name and loves people, preferring to perch on shoulders or a head, like a quiet parrot. Charlie is our zen pigeon, accepting her life and yet living it on her terms too. Charlie is calm, capable, happy, in spite of her challenges. She wants what everyone wants – a place of love.

Ellie & Charlie at the Oakland Fall Plant Exchange 10/8/16

Ellie & Charlie at the Oakland Fall Plant Exchange 10/8/16

Palomacy is here for Charlie (and all the other birds who have no place to go), we are that place of love, because of you. I can draw a direct line from your support to Charlie’s life. Without you, Charlie wouldn’t be here. Palomacy wouldn’t be here. We are so grateful to you. Thank you for making Palomacy possible.

beautiful pigeon

Charlie thanks you for giving her the gift of life

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One Comment

  1. I am so touched by Charlie’s sweet story. I am so happy to know that there are truly caring beings out there that believe animals – including birds and pigeons – deserve at least our empathy. All of you have a big kind heart and this makes me feel so grateful and hopeful that there is a bright future out there. I am so happy for Charlie, as she wakes up every morning full of love, in a safe place where she can be herself. Im so grateful to you all.

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