February 3, 2017
by Elizabeth
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2017: Palomacy’s Breakthrough Year?

Taylor met & fell in love with rescued pigeon ambassador Sochi (Photo by Patti Delaney)

Thanks to all of your very generous contributions, large and small, personal and financial, Palomacy stayed aloft another year, continuing our work of simultaneously responding to the constant, high demand for pigeon and dove rescue while also building the organizational capacity we need to be sustainable. We are, though, struggling right on the edge- we need more funding, more adopters, more people-power.

With your help, we rescued 336 birds (directly) in 2016, placed 199 into amazing (non-exploitive) forever homes, helped countless others across the country (and beyond) with our coaching, referrals and education. We begin 2017 with 124 birds in our foster care and a waiting list of many more who need our help. The world needs more Palomacy.

In 2016, we pulled off a miracle that saved the lives of 108 birds that were displaced when a Bay Area rescuer was priced out of his home. We participated in a rescue group volunteer program assessment I am thrilled (and a little surprised) by how “healthy & highly functioning” the assessment indicates Palomacy is. They said that we received some of the highest satisfaction scores seen. Yay! We saved the life of a true rock star pigeon named Prince when no one else would. We mobilized a team to help an elderly man and his flock of 53 doves when he had no where else to turn. And so much more…

Gem, Flitwick, Avery & Lucky LaRue (Photo by Liese Hunter)

We’re honored to again be a Top Rated Great Nonprofit with 124 five star reviews including this one: “I first encountered Palomacy when I was a wildlife rehabber new to pigeons. I was given helpful advice and encouragement – and I was inspired to build an aviary and start my own pigeon and dove sanctuary! Not only does Palomacy help specific local birds, but Elizabeth and core volunteers have built a positive, supportive community that connects and assists people across the country to care for birds in their area. Thanks to their network and online group, I have been able to find wonderful adoptive homes for several of my rescued birds, and help coordinate foster homes for others. Palomacy is a necessary resource and safe place I can refer people to. I can’t say enough good about this organization!”

Our fast-growing social media presence is making a life-saving difference. In May of 2015, we welcomed our 4,000th fan to our Palomacy Facebook Page. Today, we’ll surpass 22,500! As a result of our growing reach, we are inspiring, connecting and educating pigeon and dove people all over the world. Through Palomacy, a group of pigeon rescuers in Las Vegas has formed to help each other help birds. Another group has formed to catch and untangle the stringfoot pigeons suffering in San Francisco. We inspired 101,098 likes for rescued pigeons and doves on our Instagram account in 2016 and we and our volunteers and adopters are making many new friends for the birds!

One of the 2016 developments that I’m most proud of is that our Palomacy Facebook Group achieved the critical mass needed to become a valuable destination for people in need of pigeon or dove help. It has become a wonderful source of crowdsourced information, referral and education. In prior years, I couldn’t reliably refer people to the Group for help because there weren’t enough active members to respond. Now there are and it is a go-to destination for collaboration and assistance. Something urgently needed in this overlooked and under-served animal rescue space.

We have many accomplishments this year but we are struggling against an organizational limit that, despite my best efforts, I have not been able to break through. We need more help to break the bottle neck I have become to maximize the good that we can do. I am spending too much time on tasks that others could do and too little on those that need me.

I am writing to both thank you for supporting us in 2016 and to ask for your support for 2017. This has to be a breakthrough year for Palomacy and I really need your help to make it happen. Please- if you can, make a generous donation right now to help us do this work! And please, consider becoming more involved on a day to day basis. There is so much good that needs doing!

You are such compassionate people! Thank you! Your kindness is truly making a life-saving, culture-changing difference.

With heartfelt gratitude,
Elizabeth Young, founder & director
Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions

Elizabeth at our Ploughshares Nursery foster aviary (Photo by Heather Finnecy)

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January 27, 2017
by Elizabeth
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Pigeons of Peace

Guest Post by Olivia Street Verdugo

Olivia & April

It all began with an unexpected text, one unremarkable day in April, 2015. Little did I know how much answering that text would change my life!

It was my friend Alistair, and she had a pigeon in her backyard which had been there for hours and hadn’t tried to fly away when she let her dog out that morning. One picture was all it took, and I picked up and left the office to scoop up the pidge, and bring it to the local wildlife rescue. I found her huddled by a trashcan, severely emaciated, exhausted, and yet still standing proud, and something in my heart just cracked and melted all at once.

We named her April—she was a racing pigeon, going from the band on her ankle, and who knows how long she had been lost. I contacted Elizabeth at Palomacy who put me in touch with fellow local bird-lover and pigeon parent Dan Featherston (now my good friend!) and after April spent some time recuperating under his expert care, I adopted her and brought her HOME! The rest is history.

Rescued racing pigeon in the loving arms of her person

The day I brought April home

While I’d always loved pigeons from afar, April was the first pigeon I’d known so well. Almost two years and several pigeon rescues later, my love of pigeons is still going strong.

Pigeons are amazing! They thrive all over the world, side by side with humans, and share a rich history intertwined with ours. As such, they’ve made appearances as iconic symbols in many cultures throughout history. Some cultures believe they represent the spirit, others love, but arguably they are most well-known today as a symbol of peace. “But wait!” you may be thinking, “isn’t the symbol of peace a DOVE?” Well… yes, and no. The bird we commonly picture when we picture the symbol for peace is a white rock dove, also known as a rock pigeon.

La Colombe by Picasso

Why is it that we revere the white “dove” of peace and revile the “sky rat” with whom we share our cities? This has always struck me as such an arbitrary conferring of value… based merely on feather color. My “peace pigeon” pins were created out of a desire to shift the way people view these intelligent and kind birds, no matter what the color of their feathers.

petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid

And so I created Peace Pigeon pins. Le Petit Pigeon was inspired by the beautiful French idiom “petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid”, which literally translates to “little by little the bird makes its nest”, but also may be interpreted to mean “every little bit helps”, or “with time and perseverance goals can always be accomplished”. To me, it means “little and often make much”. Even the seemingly insurmountable may be accomplished when tackled bit by bit! I really try to cling to that when times are tough! Just baby steps, one foot in front of the other, etc. it still all ads up!”


And now I am pleased to announce that I am selling Pigeon of Peace hard enamel cloisonné pins for $12 each or a flock of 7 for only $75.60. $1 from each pin goes directly to Palomacy. This pin features the classic dove of peace shaped-bird (which we all know is a white pigeon!) in classic blue-bar coloring and holding an olive branch. Shop here and Palomacy supporters will receive an extra discount through through February 7 with coupon code: XAIPE70Y

 
Olivia Verdugo is a graphic designer, loves urban wildlife (especially pigeons!) and lives in Philadelphia with boyfriend Joel, two pidge babies April and Charlie, and two wonderful foster pigeons Poppy and Beatrix. 
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January 27, 2017
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Pippin and Pidgie

Ellie & pigeon racing survivor Mr. Vivian

Guest Post by Ellie Paterson

The first representative of the Columbidae family I ever helped was a downed feral pigeon sitting in the middle of a sidewalk in downtown San Rafael in 2001. A lady asked me to help take care of the bird since she was late to work. I’d be late to work as well, it turned out, because I put him in a box and carried him down the road to WildCare. I don’t know what was wrong with him or what happened to him, but I am grateful that there was an “expert” out there who I could call on to help the little thing.

Fast forward several years and I’m volunteering at a regional wildlife center. There, I had fallen in love with birds, particularly the baby birds – and most particularly the baby mourning doves (of course). One day, someone brought in a downed white dove, with a very strange bald spot on her head and pulled back eyelids. We all looked at her “bad plastic surgery,” perplexed: It looked almost symmetrical – could it be genetic? She was fully flighted and healthy otherwise. She was a very quiet and calm bird, occasionally giving strangely guttural coos. The center thus planned to release her back into the wild (their charter precludes helping domestic animals). I didn’t know much at the time, but I was concerned that a white dove would not fare very well in the wild (as, indeed, she already had the marks to prove). So I took her home!

Pippin

Thus Pippin the white ringneck dove became my first bird. A vet visit confirmed she was a she, and quite healthy too. And the vet educated me about her stylish head – she had been hawk-struck, and the tissue had somehow healed well. But as it did, it pulled away from her eyes, and she also lost some feathers permanently. How she managed to heal and survive I don’t know. But now she has a wonderful hairdo and disconcerting eyes.

At first, Pippin lived in a small, borrowed cage in front of a window in our study. She was very quiet and calm as she watched my partner work at his desk all day. Occasionally she would make her odd guttural coo, and we would bring her out for a perch on a finger and a pet on the chest. She was very calm but not terribly interested in us or in exploring her new world. After about one month, I thought: she’s happy, but surely she’ll be much happier with a bird pal. But, where to find a pal? (It had to be domestic and I wasn’t going to buy a bird.)

Google search! Palomacy’s website immediately popped up: There were so many doves and pigeons! All with descriptions of their personalities, their individual stories, and who they were looking for in a home and a mate! When I contacted Elizabeth, she began her pHarmony right away as we talked about Pippin’s personality.

In the meantime, I had brought home a juvenile feral pigeon, named Pidgie, who lived with us for two months that summer. I loved Pidgie: Pidgie wanted to stand on my head, Pidgie didn’t want to be grabbed, Pidgie wanted to know what I was doing, Pidgie wanted to explore explore explore, and Pidgie wanted to fly! But, Pidgie wanted to mate with Pippin, Pidgie didn’t like his cage at all, and Pidgie drove us nuts. Pidgie needed to be FREE: to sow his oats, to find a mate who would love him back. So, knowing it was a risk, I let him outside (I didn’t know then that group releases are much safer. It didn’t even occur to me to take him to WildCare. Isn’t that odd? In retrospect I may have been too attached to think straight).

Pidgie and me

The story of Pidgie that summer won my heart to all pigeons and doves forever. Pidgie learned how to come and go from the house. First he perched on the porch railing, and then took off like a jolt. Two hours later he was back. Then he graduated to sitting on the roof before take off. Then, one day, there was a hawk in the nearby tree! I called for Pidgie! Here he came, fast as a bullet! But here came the hawk too! Pidgie made it to the porch railing, alighting beside me just in time. But the hawk came too! I batted her away with my arm while Pidgie took off again – this time into the house, down the hallway, into the bathroom, and behind the toilet, breathing hard. Poor Pidgie! He stayed home all the next day. But then, he was ready again. This time, he perched on me at the threshold, while for the first time he peered carefully at the skies above him. And off he went! Where was he going? Did he find food? Did he find other pigeons? Every day he came home just before sunset; but then, he started staying out overnight. The first night without Pidgie, I was bereft: “Pidgie has been eaten by the hawk.” But no – the next day he was home! So tired, he stayed home all day. Then off again! This continued for several weeks, with the nights spent away increasing in length. Finally, it had been five whole days and nights away. This time I was sure that Pidgie was gone for good. My boyfriend had been patient with Pidgie but was relieved he was gone: After all, Pidgie was only a pigeon. And Pippin was still here – gentle, patient Pippin. Then, literally out of the blue – in flew Pidgie!!! And landed in his favorite spot to go to bed. I beamed!!! My partner beamed!!! Pidgie was okay!

Pidgie stayed with us for a few more days. The last time I saw him was on a normal, sunny afternoon. He came from nowhere and landed near me. I said Hi! and calmly continued gardening. He looked at me for a minute or so, and then was gone again. I haven’t seen him since. Now, I always hope for the best: that he learned how to survive; that he found a flock, and a nice girl. Now, every feral pigeon I see is a Pidgie, and I dream of Pidgie flying free.

Pidgie getting ready to fly!

Pippin – who will always be with me – went on to get married to Lief from Palomacy. They share their own big aviary with Beethoven and Muriel, also from Palomacy; and Cassie, a disabled Eurasian-collared girl. Lief-y Boy, flirt that he is, also married Cassie about six months ago, after a year-long courtship; Cassie chases Pippin, but because Cassie can’t fly, Pippin gets around her just fine. Pippin sits on her nest all day, comes down for safflower seeds, and gets regular attentions from Lief. She is still not very interested in people, and still she hardly ever says a single coo. Silent, gentle and abiding is Pippin.

Pippin and Lief Introductions

These two birds, Pippin and Pidgie – their yin and yang, their confidence in such small bodies – opened my eyes. They taught me that each has a big, big life to live, each in their own ways and with their own needs. For the first time, I appreciate that I, too, have a big, big life to live. As do we all.

Pippin abides

 

Ellie comforts sick baby King pigeon Moose

Ellie Paterson is a long-time volunteer animal keeper around the Bay Area, and a frequent volunteer for Palomacy since 2014. She recently made her living in university management. She thinks that one day she would like to manage a sanctuary, where she can make pretty aviaries, garden with the birds, and clean poop. She lives in Berkeley, CA with Tim (her partner of 10 years), 2 cats, 5 doves, and 2 foster pigeons.

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December 15, 2016
by Elizabeth
0 comments

Saving Miu

Beautiful happy pigeon

Miu is safe & happy now (Photo by Cynthia Zhou)

Miu was one of more than 40 birds displaced when their person, a San Jose resident, died in November. There were 20 finches, 10 budgies, lovebirds, rosellas, doves and two pigeons. (He had bred and sold birds for many years. In the past, he had hundreds.) The deceased’s family reached out to Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue (the parrot rescue with whom we partnered for our first four years as MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue) to take the birds out of his backyard aviaries and into their rescue (except for the two pigeons which they just let out of the aviary). One of the pigeons was promptly attacked by their dog. The other eventually went back into an empty aviary. Michelle Yesney, Mickaboo CEO and one of many Mickaboo volunteers who worked on this big rescue, closed her in to keep her safe and contacted us.

pigeon alone in decrepit aviary

All alone

We are beyond full… stretched to the breaking point caring for 130 birds in 27 volunteer foster homes/aviaries (and coaching, referring, counseling on behalf of many more) but every day, we have to figure out how to help the birds that no one else will. And so we stretched some more. I reached out to Faye, the volunteer who coordinates our Lobby Pigeons team at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley in Milpitas, who could transport and to Clare, our Leadership Team Chair who could short-term foster to put together a rescue team for this pigeon in need.

As soon as Faye arrived on the property and spoke to Michelle, the lonesome pigeon, from a aviary far down an empty row of structures and out of sight, began cooing, calling for help.

a long row of abandoned aviaries

The smart, lonesome pigeon began cooing as soon as she heard voices

filthy food and water

Her food and water- before

Clean, wholesome food and water

Her food and water- after

Faye took her home to stay overnight while she waited to go to Clare’s the following day. It was a big improvement in her situation!

Pigeon happy to be getting some affection

Getting some love from Faye

Pigeons will vocalize to communicate with people just as they would call to one another. She’s saying, come here. Be with me. Stay with me.

This is the behavior of a very tame, bi-cultural (pigeon/human) bird. She’s preening Faye’s hand with affection, the same way she would preen a mate.

The next day, the little Homer went to Clare’s house. She took to wearing pigeon pants with ease. And just as she had quickly won Faye’s heart, she won Clare and Bob’s too.

Domestic pigeon wearing pants

Wearing pants for the first time

Pigeon on a man's shoulder

The little Homer and Bob made quick friends

In the meantime, I posted about the little lonesome Homer on our Facebook page in search of a foster or forever home…

Facebook posting

And Cynthia, a bird lover and Palomacy supporter who’s been thinking about fostering a pet pigeon for a long time was moved to complete our foster application. We talked through the requirements and what goes into caring for a pet pigeon and Cynthia set about getting ready. She suggested the name Miu which means “beautiful feather” and “kind-hearted” and so Miu she is. The following week, on November 27th, Cynthia went to Cupertino to pick up Miu. And they have been having a love fest ever since.

Pigeon and her adopter to be meeting for the first time

Miu and Cynthia meet

Happy people with pigeon they love

Mako, Cynthia and Miu

Last night I asked Cynthia for the Miu Report and she writes,

The Miu Report is looking bright! She seems to have settled in very quickly and already claimed a few favorite spots around the room. The doves have left her alone, although they once flew over to a table near her food and I saw her give a warning peck in their general direction. She’s done this less with me, but she often flies over to Mako to land on his head or back, and it’s the cutest thing. We’ve had several friends meet her, and they all adore her. She’s something of a minor celebrity at the moment, and several people have asked to visit us so they can meet her. It’s finals week for us, so we’ve been spending a lot of time at home but we’re usually focused on studying, and she’ll sometimes walk over our keyboards to get our attention. We would love to adopt her, because fostering is going well (and Mako and I are very attached – we consider her part of the family already). She’s made herself right at home and our daily routine involves so much time with her that it’s hard to believe she came into our lives less than a month ago. I hope she gets to stay for a long, long time.

Pigeon at night

Nighttime Miu

Pigeon looking at hat with birds on it

Miu studying up on birds

So, with the help of a whole team of dedicated volunteers and supporters, Miu has been saved. She is safe, loved. She is home. Thank you for helping rescues like Palomacy (and Mickaboo) to help birds like Miu. We couldn’t do this without you!

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November 28, 2016
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Charlie Girl

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.

charlie-pirate-080516-img_6949

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

charlie-rebel-goose-102716

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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November 22, 2016
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

How a Little Pigeon Built a Big Aviary

Guest Post by Chris Arvanitis

A man with his rescued pet pigeon on his shoulder

Chris & Peteybyrd

On a warm spring afternoon, a little pigeon suddenly appeared on the edge of the roof above our deck.  He was strutting and cooing as he peered down at us.  We have many wild doves in our neighborhood, but have never seen a pigeon around here before.  It was not long before he came down off the roof and was walking along the deck railing, coming closer and closer to us.  We were obviously intrigued by this curious little guy.  He had no bands on his legs and appeared to be a wild bird.  We did a quick internet search as we knew nothing about caring for pigeons. We provided him some water in case he was thirsty.  We had never seen a pigeon be so friendly with people before and came to the conclusion he was likely raised by humans, lost and tired.  He continued to hang out on our deck for another hour or so and then disappeared for the night.  We figured he had left, continued on his way and found a place to roost for the night.  Early the next morning however, he was back on the deck, strutting and cooing again, now wanting to come in the house with us.  We had to head off to work that morning so we left him some food and water on the deck, assuming that he may move on that day.  That afternoon when we got back, he was still there.  At this point we figured he has probably adopted us for his new home.  We still were ignorant about him surviving in the wild as he seemed to do well for himself.  We built him a little shelter on our deck (which we later determined would be very unsafe for him) and he took right to it, somehow knowing it was made just for him.  He slept in there every night, still being able to fly free wherever and whenever he wanted.  We started to become quite attached to him; he was very affectionate, especially to my wife, and had a special personality.  We loved having him around as we never would have thought we would be friends with a pigeon.  He was always there each night, sometimes waiting for us when we arrived home, sometimes later just before sunset, he would appear.  Soon he moved into my garage and workshop and he could come and go through an opening we provided for him.  We worried about his safety as we had seen him pursued by hawks in the past, but he seemed to be pretty savvy.

image1

Petey in the workshop

Then, one night, he did not return.  We were worried, but he had spent the night away from home in the past.  Six days went by, still, he had not returned.  We were devastated, fearing the worst.  Thinking we would never see him again, I went out on the deck after dark hoping to see him as I had done for the past week, and there he was!  Sitting in the little house we had built him when he first came to us.  He was exhausted, emaciated, and covered in this sticky goo all over with pine needles and loose feathers stuck on him.  We secured him in the garage; he drank a lot of water and ate, went to sleep and was very quiet all night.  The next day, he was livelier, but did not know what this goo was until we tried to clean it.  At first we thought it was pine tree sap, but it turned out to be from a glue trap!  We felt so guilty and awful about what he must have been going through for six nights, likely only yards away from our home.  We don’t know if someone freed him, or he managed to get loose himself, but he could barely fly with all the goo, one wing stuck to his body.  Somehow he managed to survive with no water and food, likely because we overfed him since he first arrived. After getting free of the glue trap, barely being able to fly, he somehow made it home, to a place he must have known he would be helped.  It took numerous mineral oil cleanings and baths in Dawn to remove the glue trap goo. I wish I had known better than to make the mistakes I made when I first encountered Petey, he needed help and was in danger and we should have immediately made him safe. (A lone pigeon, unconnected to a wild flock, is in trouble.)

Bathed pigeon wrapped in a towel in rescuer's arms

Petey recovering from his glue trap ordeal

After a week of rehab, he was feeling back to his old happy self. We kept him in our garage from then on fearing for his safety, but had a tremendous amount of guilt as he hated to be left alone. We would bring him in the house from time to time and let him fly free outside only when we were home.  Looking for help, that is when I found one of the most special people I have ever encountered, Elizabeth at Palomacy. I sent her a message about our new friend, now named Peteybyrd. She was so helpful in providing advice and guidance regarding Peteybyrd.  We immediately brought Petey into our home permanently, provided him his own room, my office.  In talking with Elizabeth, we decided in order to provide Petey the safest and happiest home we could, we needed to adopt a lady pidge for him.  She put us in touch with a local rescuer in our area, Terry Whatley, another angel for these amazing creatures. A couple of weeks later we purchased a large double flight cage and adopted Penny. At first it was a little difficult, Petey wanted nothing to do with her, still being very attached to my wife. With the incredible guidance and encouragement of Elizabeth and Terry, we were able to have faith that Petey and Penny would hit it off. After a long weekend away, we came home to find them in love. Our hearts melted to see them together.

Married pigeons snuggling in their nest

Penny & Petey

Pigeons are very romantic!

Even after finding our Petey a loving and devoted mate, we still had feelings of guilt that they were confined to the double flight cage and the small home office. We decided to go all out. A large outdoor aviary was soon to come, all due to the inspiration of a little bird that has had a profound effect on our lives. At the time, we were in the process of building a patio and new driveway to our new garage and workshop, so we simply modified our plans slightly, adding a concrete slab for the aviary. I designed the slab to be integral with our patio and driveway. It has a raised curb, sloped floor and built-in drains for easy cleaning.

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The aviary Peteybyrd built

It is sized 14 feet long by 8 feet wide and 9 feet tall at the highest point. We built it using pressure treated lumber for framing, bolted to the concrete and all galvanized hardware for durability. The back side is solid with exterior siding and sheltered corners for the nest boxes. The corners provide shear bracing for stability. We used ½ inch galvanized hardware wire mesh attached with galvanized staples. We then covered all framing and mesh seams with 1×3 cedar trim, all stained a dark brown. The roof is solid, made from 5/8 plywood, sloped 15 deg and covered with 40 year roofing shingles, leftover from my garage project. The door is attached with three spring loaded heavy duty hinges so the door can never be accidentally left open. We used two slide bolts, one bottom and one top with locks to keep predators out, although with our two large dogs in our yard, not many animals dare to venture in. Inside there is a built-in work bench for storage of food bins and supplies however the birds prefer to use it as a place to hang out and sleep. There are numerous flat perches all around the interior, a large natural branch that varies from 1-2 inches and a hanging flat perch as Petey really liked sitting on the ceiling fan blades in the garage and this perch kind of simulates that. A couple of pidgie baths finished it off.

We also installed a network video camera so we can check in on them from time to time on the internet when we are not home, a nice amenity for peace of mind. It is very easy to clean, scrape flat surfaces, sweep/vacuum, scrub and rinse all in about 45 min. All in all, we spent under $750.00 to build this aviary. Well worth the expense to provide a safe and happy home for these guys.

The moment of truth, the first day in the aviary, they loved it! They spent all day exploring, hanging out on their new perches, able to have a view of the outdoors and enjoy the daily sunlight.  We actually just rolled the double flight cage right into the aviary as they seemed familiar and comfortable with it.

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Nice job, Petey!

But the story doesn’t end there…We needed to adopt more pidgies in need of a home. So we have adopted two more pairs for now, for a total of six. It was a little contentious at first with Petey being a bit upset at these “intruders”, but it settled down and now we have a peaceful, comfortable, safe and happy home for all these little guys who love to play and flirt with each other. Ruffles, Little Red, Flannigan, Oscar, Penny and Petey!  All because one spring day, we were visited by a sweet little pidge named Peteybyrd.  This is Petey’s story and the house that Petey built!

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Super Peteybyrd!

me-and-bonnie2Chris and Bonnie Arvanitis have lived in Vista, California, coastal north San Diego County, for 40 years.  Bonnie works as an executive secretary at a local hospital and Chris is an administrator of a condominium retirement community.  They have one daughter, Chrissy and two rescue dogs named Buddy and Bella, both shepherds.  They have always had rescue animals all their life, dedicated to providing a loving home to less fortunate animals. Chris enjoys photography, woodworking and hiking. Bonnie enjoys spending time with her dogs, and now her pigeon Petey, the beach and traveling.

 

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November 7, 2016
by Elizabeth
0 comments

Palomacy’s Calendar Photo Contest!

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We are very excited to be hosting Palomacy’s first ever calendar photo contest and fundraiser!

Your photo entries and votes support Palomacy and count you among an amazingly caring network of people committed to our culture-changing work. Thank you for helping celebrate these incredible, under-appreciated birds every day of the year! We know how special pigeons and doves are and we are showing the world!

Please vote for your favorites ($1/vote)! Submit your photos ($5/entry)! Share for family and friends to vote! All proceeds will help Palomacy to help more birds. You are literally shaping Palomacy’s future with your support.

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Built in buttons make it easy to share your entries with your friends and family and invite their votes in support of your beloved birds and Palomacy! It’s easy and fun! Already entered? Find yours here. Ready to get started, it’s easy here.

You can also elight your loved ones- birds or people- by reserving a day in the calendar especially for them.

And you can pre-order Palomacy 2017 Calendars as great gifts for those special bird-lovers in your life.

Together, we are making the world a kinder place- for pigeons and doves and everyone else. Thank you for being ambassadors for compassion. Thank you for supporting Palomacy.

Your help inspires ever-growing appreciation for pigeons and doves and raises life-saving funds for the birds! Please join us in making 2017 a truly wonderful year for these very special birds!

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Enter and vote today! The contest ends 9 PM PT on 11/13/16.

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Thank you! You are making every day a better one with your compassion.

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November 7, 2016
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Little Pigeo Finds a Home (Or Pigeo’s Great Adventure!)

Guest Post by Julie Zhang

Two days after a September 11 memorial service at UC Berkeley, a student group posted about a “Miss Birdie” who’d shown up in their office and wandered around looking adorable, but also clearly lost and confused. The bird was probably a “release dove” from the memorial service, they’d concluded, but “cage rent” in Berkeley was too high and this bird was going to be homeless.

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Photo from the Student Transfer Center — self-rescuing Pigeo waiting for help outside their office.

At the time I was in class, and as a student of course I was torn between the mandatory attendance policy and this beautiful bird. I turned to my friend for help, and he replied: “Don’t let your dreams be dreams.”

Five minutes later, I found this impossibly adorable pidge sitting by himself in a corner.

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Pigeo was a little confused as to why the human was so out of breath.

I hadn’t planned on taking him home at all, until I realized that no one was coming to get him, and local authorities (police and Animal Control) either didn’t care or would euthanize. So I called home thirty minutes away and asked if they’d bring our spare birdcage from years ago. “What for?” they asked. Nothing, Mom, there’s just this bird who’s stranded and I’m taking him home. No, don’t worry, he’s super cute and he’d be homeless if we just left him there!

Another concerned student reached out to me, and told me about Palomacy. I sent a message, and Elizabeth replied immediately and was wonderful with all the advice and support she provided to make sure our nervous new resident was healthy and okay.

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Just after arriving to his new home in a temporary cage. Pictured: a scaredy little puff ball

Our little pidge was terrified and wouldn’t move from his corner on the first night. The next morning, we woke up to him eating millet… and he didn’t stop all morning (we were getting a little worried, but he was just very hungry after starving for a couple days).

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“Pigeo’s great escape” circa September 14, 2016. A landmark first demonstration of his slipping-out-of-cage-when-you’re-not-looking capacities.

Then he immediately went adventuring the second I turned my back and practiced flying — he was still very weak, and could only fly a few feet at a time.

And so began Pigeo’s great adventure…

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Hanging out with other birds in the aviary and trying on pants…

 

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Being held! (And not realizing he’s modeling for advertisements)…

(Editor’s Note: You can buy the shirt Pigeo inspired Julie to design in support of Palomacy here.)

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Sitting on shoulders after showers (ignore the strange caption, the important part is “circle”)…

 

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Turning into a loaf (Pigeo’s favorite)…

 

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Not eating his vegetables, of course (typo unintentional, I swear!)…

 

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We can’t forget refusing to take baths…

 

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And just being impossibly adorable (I know every parent thinks their kid is the cutest, but I will fight anyone who says this isn’t the cutest pidge they’ve ever seen)…

 

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And finally, here is Pigeo’s upgraded new home! He’s come a long way from being starved and dehydrated in an emergency spare cage, and we can’t wait to see where we’ll go next. Thanks for reading!

 

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Julie is a student at UC Berkeley, primarily studying the pigeon population on campus. She has always been a closeted pigeon lover and has finally realized her dreams. 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: Palomacy is so grateful to Julie for stepping up to rescue dear little Pigeo! He’s a young Homer pigeon, the kind bred to be small and white and used for “wedding dove” releases. They are supposed to get home safely but many do not and, as domestic birds with no place in the wild and no survival skills, their life span, once lost, is usually only hours to days. You can learn about why “dove releases” are cruel here and you can learn about how to care for a rescued pigeon as a pet here.

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October 18, 2016
by Elizabeth
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Dove Love!

On August 29th, Palomacy volunteer Ellie transported Novie & Limabean from their foster aviary at Andy’s Pet Shop in San Jose to Emily’s Monterey home so she could foster and potentially adopt them. Happy news! It’s official- they are home! We love getting updates about our birds and we especially love this wonderful video created by Emily in honor of Novie & Limabean! They are so in love! And so lucky! And so are you because we have lots of adorable, adoptable, easy to care for doves who can bring the same joy to your home! (Please see 53 Pet Doves Need Help! and learn more about fostering or adopting here.)

Emily’s mom Shannon sent this video disclaimer: “I promise Novie is not allowed to play with the blind cord nor is he allowed to gorge himself in the safflower bowl. Just showing off his adorable mischievous side!”

Novie & Limabean are welcomed to their new home!

Novie appreciated the special welcome!

Limabean felt right at home with Emily

Limabean and Emily connected right away

Emily with her adopted doves Novie & Limabean

Emily, Novie & Limabean

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Novie, rescued, healed, adopted, home!

Ringneck dove Novie had been found injured and stray in Sacramento and was taken in to Wildlife Care Association where, rather than being turned away as a domestic as sometimes happens, they cared for him until Palomacy could make room. Limabean was one of nine doves whose people could no longer keep them. Thanks to our partnership with Andy’s (Rescue) Pet Shop and with lots of help from Palomacy volunteers Jill and Leda, we were able to rescue and care for Limabean and her flock. When Novie joined them, he won Limabean’s heart and so, when Emily applied to adopt him, the devoted couple were a package deal. Congratulations to Novie & Limabean and their adopter Emily and thank you to all the kind, compassionate people along the way who helped these little birds. It makes a difference.

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October 17, 2016
by Elizabeth
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Home Along the Lanes of the Skyway

Guest Post by William O’Neill

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A pigeon going about the daily routine.

There are over three hundred species of pigeons and doves! The most ubiquitous member of their family is Columba livia– the Rock Pigeon. You most likely refer to them simply as pigeon. They’re the enigmatic little citizens you pass by on a daily basis. Pigeons are commonly associated with cities, and often referred to as cosmopolitan species or urban wildlife. Their affinity for our cities is no fluke. Humans domesticated pigeons, at least five thousand years ago. They originated in North Africa, Southern Europe and Western Asia. They can now be found in urban areas on most continents, following human introduction. In the wild, pigeons prefer to nest and roost in the nooks and crannies of cliff faces and other protective, rocky areas. Our buildings act as the perfect surrogate. Their relationship with humans has shown to be quite beneficial for the species, with current global populations estimated to be two hundred and sixty million (still far short of the global human population). However, their success and intimate relationship with human civilization has resulted in the attribution of some onerous and undeserved reputations for being dirty, diseased, native-bird displacers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pigeons are intelligent, emotional, loyal and amazing animals.

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There are many housing options for this discerning tenant.

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban environments (UN, 2014), so it is no surprise that any one person’s daily routine comes with a shortage of wildlife interactions. Depending on where you live, urban wildlife may consist of dogs, cats, raccoons, rats, coyotes and birds. Surprisingly, twenty percent of the approximately ten thousand bird species on the planet live in cities (Aronson MFJ et al, 2014). Among those, the most cosmopolitan and readily identified is the pigeon. Many people don’t give pigeons the time of day, unless they happen to be “in their way” on the sidewalk. Taking a closer look at our avian neighbors would reveal their interesting and endearing lives. On any given day, you can observe pigeons: courting their life-long mates; gathering materials to build their nests where they will raise many generations of children; maneuvering through the air to avoid predators; engaging in social interactions and much more! Like you and I, pigeons are just trying to get by in the world the best they can. Taking notice of their lives can be extremely enriching to our own.

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Some colleagues grab a bite to eat.

Non-native species get a pretty bad rap for destroying ecosystems and displacing native species. This is not true of all non-natives. Pigeons are one of the many introduced species that has been incorrectly labeled as a usurper of native bird’s habitat. As previously stated, pigeons do so well because they make use of the vastly altered landscapes produced by humans. Pigeons now occur in eighty percent of cities globally (Aronson MFJ et al, 2014). This might lead you to believe they have a great effect on the native bird populations. This is not the case. In cities, non-native bird species, including pigeons, account for less than five percent of the bird population. The observed dearth of native bird species is a result of anthropogenic forces (Aronson MFJ et al, 2014). It is the alteration of habitat to urban use by humans, which poses a strong threat to native birds.

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Even while courting a mate, pigeons must be vigilant

Despite some commonly held stereotypes, generally speaking, animals do not enjoy being dirty and take steps to ensure their cleanliness. Pigeons are no exception. In fact, birds are fastidious in their hygiene, due to the importance of keeping their feathers in good shape. Bird feathers serve many functions such as flying, keeping the individual warm or cool, and employment in mating displays. Birds have devised a number of methods for feather upkeep. Birds preen by using their beak to straighten out their feathers. Each feather has smaller parts called barbs, which can become tangled and askew. Birds use their beaks much like a human might use a brush or comb. Birds also take sunbathes, ant baths, bathe in water, and preen socially. So, when you see a pigeon out on the street and they aren’t looking their best, it isn’t for lack of effort. As it turns out, humans and our cities aren’t the cleanest. With all the time it takes city pigeons to find their food; dodge cars, buses and bikes; avoid human foot traffic; and elude predators, access to clean water and time to preen can be scarce. This is compounded by the amount of waste and pollution humans spread about.

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Pigeons trying to keep clean in the seedy city.

As a great person once did not actually say, “I cannot tell a lie”. Pigeons, like all animals (including humans) carry disease. However, the risk to humans has been inflated, possibly as a precaution (possibly for monetary gain), with negative consequences for pigeons. From 1941 through 2003, there were only 176 cases of transmission from feral pigeons to humans (Haag-Wackernagel, 2004). Pigeons have been shown to harbor sixty to seventy human pathogens, but only seven have been transmitted to humans (Haag-Wackernagel, 2004). The most likely method for transmission is through respiration. This is because the pathogens most often implicated are breathed in with old, dry droppings. The majority of people affected are workers cleaning up droppings and people with compromised immune systems. Acquiring these pathogens can be easily avoided by taking proper precautions. Workers in close contact with droppings can wear masks to prevent inhalation. Persons with compromised immune systems can avoid encounters with pigeons and their droppings. As is often the case, prevention works.

If anyone has ever called you a bird-brain, I hope your response was, “Thank you very much!” Birds are among the smartest members of the animal kingdom. Most of the recognition goes to the Corvids: crows, ravens and jays. If Corvids are the Einsteins of the bird world, then pigeons are the Teslas. Numerous research has been done into the intelligence and abilities of pigeons. They have solved the old “box and the banana” test (Steinissen, 2010). A treat is suspended just out of the pigeon’s reach and a box is placed in the room, but away from the treat. The pigeon successfully figures out how to use the box to gain the necessary height to obtain the treat. Pigeons have been shown to have self-recognition on par with that of three-year old humans. They are able to view two video feeds and determine which video is of them and which is a recording of another pigeon (Keio University, 2008). Pigeons are also capable of discerning between two sets of objects based on their characteristics and selecting them accordingly (University of Iowa, 2014).

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These images taken from video of the Banana-box experiment show the subject figuring out to move the box to obtain the banana.

A well-known behavior of pigeons is their homing ability. Humans have taken advantage of it for thousands of years, in different ways. Humans drive pigeons away from their homes and “race” the pigeons to see who gets home first (this is a major no-no as many do not make it back at all). Pigeons have also served in the armed forces as messengers, often rescuing humans from death and earning medals in the process (see Cher Ami). Pigeons accomplish these amazing feats in multiple ways. Studies on pigeon homing abilities have shown that the birds possess a compass that relies on both the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field. When the sun is obscured, they switch to using the magnetic field and vice versa. They also employ landmarks. Pigeons use rivers, roads, buildings and other features as paths and markers in their own mental map (BBC Earth, 2014). Pigeons are real home bodies, so it is no wonder they have developed all of these extraordinary skills for finding their way there.

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Pigeons enjoying their native habitat.

The reason pigeons are so inclined to get back to their home is that they likely have a family waiting for them. Pigeons mate for life. Once the courtship is complete, the pair locates a nesting site. There, the male will retrieve the materials and the female will design and construct the nest (and sometimes reverse roles). Typically, pigeons will lay two eggs at a time. Both parents feed the young by producing a substance in their crop, commonly referred to as “milk”. This is the reason that pigeons grow up so fast. The mated pair will stay together and reuse the same home they have built for many generations, rebuilding it stronger each time. Unfortunately, the city life takes it toll on them and many pigeons live short lives of three to four years. Pigeons, like many birds, mourn their deceased. These intelligent and emotional beings lead full and incredible lives.

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A mated pair show affection.

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Two pigeon babies.

It is no wonder that with all of these qualities, pigeons make great companions for us humans. Wild pigeons should be just that: wild. But, many pigeons are bred and raised as domestic for various purposes. These individuals will find it hard to survive in the wild, if they ever get there. If they are able to escape their fate (often as food or racers), and lucky enough to be rescued, they will make themselves right at home in ours. Just like the more common companions-cats and dogs-they are loyal and endearing.

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Christmas made merrier by a pigeon companion.

On your way to work or school in the morning, you might cross paths with some pigeons just starting their day as well. We will all be navigating the same crowded city streets through out our day. While we sit in a restaurant eating our meals and staring out the window, you’ll probably see some pigeons pecking about the ground, doing the same. When you drive home from the store with supplies for your next home improvement project, you may notice a pigeon cruise by with some new materials for their nest. The next time you encounter a pair of pigeons walking side by side and never straying too far from each other, perhaps you’ll wonder, “How long have they been together?” These intriguing little lives are all around us. If we take the time to notice them, ours just might be a little better.

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William O’Neill grew up in Santa Rosa, CA and now lives in San Francisco, CA with his wife, dog and cat. He obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology from San Francisco State University. There he researched climate change and Lyme disease ecology. He enjoys walking his dog Squirrel, relaxing with his cat Lola, observing the pigeons at 22nd Ave and Irving Street, and volunteering with Palomacy. His answer to “What is your favorite…” will always be Jurassic Park.

 

References

Title “Home along the lanes of the skyway” lyric from Elton John’s “Skyline Pigeon”

Aronson MFJ et al. 2014 A global analysis of the impacts of urbanization on bird and plant diversity reveals key anthropogenic drivers. Proc. R. Soc. B 281: 20133330.

BBC Earth, 2014. How do homing pigeons get home? – Extraordinary Animals – Series 2 – Earth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl0Ii29XmNk

Haag-Wackernagel D, Moch H. 2004. Health hazards posed by feral pigeons. J Infect. 2004 May;48(4):307-13

Keio University. (2008, June 14). Pigeons Show Superior Self-recognition Abilities To Three Year Old Humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613145535.html

Steinissen, Geert. 2010. Insight learning: Pigeon Solves the Classic Box-and-Banana Problem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtHYyfDdSUg

United Nations 2014. World’s population increasingly urban with more than half living in urban areas.

http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/world-urbanization-prospects-2014.html

University of Iowa. (2014, April 2). Pigeons share our ability to place everyday things in categories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402095107.html

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