April 25, 2017
by Elizabeth

Saving Shmuel the Handsome West of England Tumbler

Guest Post by Olena Klingman

I have always loved birds and I have kept many different kinds of birds throughout my life. Usually I took ones that other people didn’t want or needed to re-home. I also helped to rescue wild birds by bringing injured or orphaned birds to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley for treatment and rehabilitation. This is almost what happened with Shmuel, a stunning West of England Tumbler domestic pigeon!


My best friend and fellow rescuer Olga found Shmuel at a shopping center parking lot in San Jose. She was shocked that he refused to fly away when she approached. Taking a closer look, she noticed he had clipped wings and beautiful long feathers on his feet and realized this pigeon was special. Still she called me right away for assistance saying she found “a pigeon that can’t fly” so my first instinct told me to take him to Wildlife Rescue. Next day we were both enlightened that yes indeed, he is special, he is no ordinary pigeon, he is a pure-breed pet!  Our next step was to try to find the “owner” of this pet. Many Craigslist ads, posters and local shelter notices later, we only found a few questionable individuals and fake “rescues” who wanted to take him but no original owner. Since we know how many animals get abused by being re-homed online, we decided not to give him away and to foster him ourselves. After sometime my friend Olga realized she can not give Shmuel the environment that he needs in her home so she asked me to take over his care completely.

Shmuel & Olena

It’s been I don’t even know how many months, maybe even a year, that I lived with this beautiful and regal bird. I have always wanted a pigeon as a child, and in a way my dreams came true as I was living out the fantasy of having a tame pigeon sit on my hand. My mom decided to name him Shmuel, which means either “name of God” or “God has heard” in Hebrew. Neither of us is Jewish, but for some reason my mom thought that Shmuel is! In any case, my mom and the rest of my family also found so much joy and pleasure in caring for this handsome boy, but it all did come at a price.

At the time I lived with my parents, brother and his wife in a small town-house and had to jump through hoops to make it work for everyone. I had a small room to myself that I practically had to convert to Shmuels personal flying and soiling space! We barely had a back yard big enough for any recreational usage, let alone an outdoor aviary. So the poor guy had to be cooped up indoors pretty much all the time and only got a chance to fly in my room. He did have a cage large enough for him to get around, spread his wings and nap in – I bought one that was originally intended for Chinchillas, so he really enjoyed all the platforms and ladders. The cage was open almost all the time except for at night, and he loved to go back in and out of it. Amazingly, he also responded to my commands when it was bed-time, I pointed my finger at the cage and said “mistse” which means “your place” in Ukrainian, and he would always respond by flying back inside!

He seemed to be content and living a happy life, but still I felt like he needed more than I could give him. I also felt horrible that he was an only pigeon, he didn’t have a mate or a bird friend to play with, and adopting more birds unfortunately was out of the question for me at the time. I tried to entertain him as much as possible by taking him out of the room while he sat on my hand or even on my head! I also tried to stimulate his needs for social interaction by placing his cage next to a large mirror and even challenging him with a toy! He usually loved to fight my hand when I changed his food and water, so I figured I will try a stuffed animal instead if that’s what he likes to do, even though I didn’t know anything at the time about why he does this behavior. That’s another reason why I was afraid to re-home him. Knowing nothing about pigeons, I assumed that he might be aggressive and worried that in a different home he might become a victim of abuse if someone takes his territorial behavior the wrong way. That thought alone scared me and prevented me from moving forward with his placement for adoption.

Eventually, I moved out of my parents home, got married and moved in with my in-laws (hardly an upgrade in living situation for most people, but knowing Bay Area home prices, it’s not an unusual living arrangement nowadays). That’s when I realized that I can not foster him anymore…and it broke my heart. Lost and panicked I couldn’t bare the thought of trusting another stranger to care for Shmuel. I reached out to my friends and neighbors only to be more disappointed that they can’t take him either.

Some online research lead me to find Palomacy and I finally felt like my prayers have been answered! Knowing that I had to re-home Shmuel within a month, I reached out to Elizabeth right away, pleading for help. I was amazed at how caring and understanding she was in helping me go through this situation. She not only offered a mountain of advice and explanation for Shmuels behavior, but she also agreed to take him into her foster care and give him a chance at a better life that I’ve always wanted for him. A week later I have brought Shmuel into her aviary, and he fit right in fairly quickly with other birds and felt at home flying around and enjoying the sunshine. I couldn’t be more happy for him knowing that he will now have a chance to find a “wife” and be adopted out as a bonded pair to a wonderful forever home. I had to give this one up and it’s so bitter-sweet to see him go, but knowing what I know now about pigeons and how much fun it is to have them, I will definitely look into adopting or fostering with Palomacy in the future (when I have my own home and enough space to build my own aviary), it’s the least I can do for all that Elizabeth and her staff have done for me and Shmuel.

Olena brings Shmuel to Palomacy 3/23/17

Shmuel joining the aviary flock

Shmuel making new friends for Palomacy at his first outreach 4/22/17

If any of you reading this are considering adopting him, please know that he is an amazing bird – he’s not only very beautiful, but his personality is just irresistible. He really is quite a gem and I truly believe that anyone would be very lucky to add him to their family.

Editor’s Note: Shmuel is currently fostered in Elizabeth’s San Francisco aviary. He is single, eager to have a mate and available for adoption. He is a very gorgeous, charming bird who would be happy in either an aviary or, with a companion, as an indoor family pet. If you’re in the Northern California area and interested in adopting Shmuel, please complete our online application. Palomacy thanks Olena for her loving care and advocacy for Shmuel as well as her generous donations and ongoing support. I wish every lost pigeon could find his way to someone like Olena.

Olena Klingman is a dedicated professional musician, violin instructor and animal lover. She has been teaching private music lessons to children in the Bay Area since 2005. She grew up in Ukraine and always had a passion for rescuing animals, when not practicing her violin! Currently Olena lives in San Jose where she volunteers as a “dog socializer” at SJ Animal Care Center, and as a feral cat TNR specialist with Nine Lives Foundation in Redwood City. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her husband, singing, painting, and advocating for animal rights on her social media.


March 31, 2017
by Elizabeth

You Can Help Palomacy in All Kinds of Ways!

Did you know there are many different ways that you can help Palomacy to help the birds?

Aviary bird care volunteer Samantha caring for the Ploughshares flock

Palomacy needs volunteers to help with projects, transport, aviary bird care, fostering, outreach events and more!

Here are just a few of the opportunities available…

Aviary Bird Care Volunteers

You can help care for adorable birds fostered in OUR aviaries! (Photo by Julie Zhang)

Palomacy is currently seeking Aviary Bird Care Volunteers in Alameda, San Jose & San Francisco, CA! Warning: may be addictive! (Please complete our online application.)

ALAMEDA- We have a flock of 18 rescued pigeons fostered in our aviary at Ploughshares Nursery near the Main Street ferry terminal and we need volunteers to help care for them! The aviary needs to be cleaned every day and we currently only have three volunteers covering the seven days. Cleaning and feeding is very easy, it takes about 15-30 minutes, and is very fun! You get to hang out with 18 pigeons, and they’ll chat with you, and show off for you. They’re incredibly sweet and underappreciated animals.

Palomacy’s foster pigeon aviary at Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda, CA

SAN JOSE- Have 20 minutes once or twice a week (or more)? We would love your help at our Foster Dove Aviary at Andy’s (Rescue) Pet Shop in San Jose and we are happy to train interested volunteers. The volunteer work includes cleaning our foster aviary and checking in on the ten doves. It can be a quick clean or you can hang out for a while with these fun, beautiful birds and watch them with their busy lives.

Palomacy volunteer Liese can teach you everything you need to know

SAN FRANCISCO- Aviary Bird Care Volunteer(s) needed to help feed, water, socialize and clean up after doves and pigeons housed in backyard foster aviaries in south east corner of SF (right near MUNI T Line & 101/280 connect, easy parking!). Work with Palomacy founder Elizabeth and learn all about pigeons and doves, rescue operations, doing the impossible, etc. Minimum commitment of 2 hours per week required.

Elizabeth’s foster pigeon aviary in San Francisco

Elizabeth’s foster dove aviary in San Francisco

Elizabeth’s special needs bird room in San Francisco

Please complete our online application or contact Elizabeth if you have questions.

Outreach & Humane Education Volunteers

Palomacy ambassadors Max & Pirate

Palomacy brings pigeons and doves to outreach, adoption and Humane Education events througout the Bay Area, from San Jose up to Sacramento and everywhere in between. It is super fun and easy to introduce these amazing, charming birds to people and we make lots of new friends for them every time we do. We will teach you on the job and you can bring your own pet or foster pigeons and doves or we may be able to pair you with ours (depending on the event). You can see scheduled upcoming events on our website but there are always others being planned and, if we know you’re interested, we’ll invite you. Please complete our online application or contact Elizabeth if you have questions.

Pigeon diplomacy works!

Jade meeting Nathan’s pet pigeon Sophia

Christiana bringing Palomacy to the Capitol

Ellie, Elizabeth & Jill outreaching at the Oakland Plant Exchange

Event Planning Volunteers

Pigeons love to party (Coo Jackman photo by Elisabeth Millay)

2017 is our tenth anniversary and we need to organize a wonderful get together in celebration of all that we are doing!

Special Project Volunteers

Create a new Palomacy video (3 minutes)
Update & Redo Online Forms (from VFB Pro to Formstack or ?)
Set up Palomacy Email Group (Dadamail or ?)
Upgrade Contacts Database (Donors, Volunteers, Newsletter subscribers)

Foster Volunteers

You can enjoy birds & help save the lives of pigeons & doves even if you can’t adopt!

Animal Assisted Therapy Volunteers

Christina Chavez (SF SPCA Animal Assisted Therapy Program) & Prince

We are currently recruiting volunteers with one or more pigeons (adopted or fostered) to join us in our participation with the SF SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy Program. (Volunteer opportunities are located in SF, vet check certificate and additional training required.)

For any of the above (and there are lots more ways to help too),  please complete our online application or contact Elizabeth if you have questions.

Thank you!

Thank you for helping Palomacy help birds!


March 24, 2017
by Elizabeth

Rescued King Pigeon Kids Patch, Alfred & Bert

Rescued King pigeon youngsters Alfred & Bert (dyed pink) & Patch

One million domestic King pigeons are bred annually in California for meat (squab). A few wind up in rescue rather than as the dinner on a fancy plate they were intended to be. With your support, Palomacy helps these and other lucky survivors get adopted rather than euthanized. With your help, we are closing a deadly gap in the animal welfare community. Every one of these birds is an individual. Here’s the story of three: Patch, Alfred and Bert.

Instead of being butchered when they were four weeks old, Patch, Alfred and Bert were purchased live from a poultry market. We don’t know how many were “released” (either in a misguided effort to liberate them or for ceremonial use) but we do know how many were rescued- three.

The Good Samaritan who found the three baby pigeons huddled together in a park on June 20th, 2016, knew they were out of place and so he gathered them up and brought them to the San Francisco SPCA. Though they don’t usually take in birds, their Humane Education team, already fostering four of Palomacy’s pigeons in the Summer Camp program, made an exception for them.

SF SPCA Humane Educators rescued Patch, Alfred & Bert

All of our foster homes and aviaries were full up (we always are with usually 120+ pigeons and doves in our care plus a waiting list) and so the extra help from the Humane Ed team was critical. I went to check on the pigeon youngsters that afternoon and they were sick. While adult pigeons are hardy, the youngsters, their immune systems undeveloped and exposed to so much stress through the “harvesting”, transport and sales/”release” process, are frail. We got them settled in and started on antibiotics. They had eluded the butcher and survived an inhumane “release”. They were very lucky to be alive.

Everyone fell in love with the strikingly marked black and white pigeons. As if they weren’t eye-catching enough, Alfred and Bert’s feathers were stained with pink food coloring- something that the poultry sellers do to mark batches of birds. Unfortunately, despite all the loving care of the SF SPCA team and the best efforts of our avian vets at Medical Center for Birds, Patch, the sickest of the trio, passed away on July 11th. Necropsy revealed the extent of his infection which affected multiple organs as well as the lack of immune response.

Dr. Murphy taking care of Patch

Time went on and Alfred and Bert grew to maturity. The four adult pigeons fostered in the aviary with them, Rose and José and Hannah and Oakley, had been tolerant of them as youngsters but as puberty set in, tensions arose with the flock. Bert who had been a confident and bossy bird (despite his crossed beak) began to get bullied and to decline. He lost weight, needed to be separated from the flock and required repeated vet visits to treat multiple issues. Maggie Amiano, Humane Education Department Manager, went so above and beyond helping to not only care for and transport Bert many miles back and forth to vet visits but also contributing very generously towards his considerable vet expenses. Maggie writes,

“Having the chance to rescue the baby pigeons last summer had just as much effect on my staff and me as is did the pigeons. They had a new chance at life, but we gained the chance to teach nearly 1000 kids about kindness, empathy, and compassion for living things- especially when they need it most. Our camp counselors, campers, and volunteers bonded with these wonderful birds, and we are still continually talking about Alfred’s updates on Instagram. We were truly the lucky ones!”

Maggie & Bert working from home together

Eventually, I took Bert into my foster care for additional support with his medical issues and Alfred went to try living with a pair of Palomacy supporters, Aria and Julie, who had gone to the trouble and expense of moving out of their apartment and into another just so they could adopt a pet pigeon.

For Alfred and Aria and Julie, it was love right from the start! Alfred is home, adopted. She (yes, she we now know) really blossomed in their care and Alfred is one of the happiest, most beautiful pigeons ever! She loves her people and all the ways they dote on her including giving her free range of their apartment, minced veggies and fresh greens, on-demand sink showers, a special cozy after-bath lounge, coconut oil foot rubs, all the charger cords she can steal for nest-building, etc. etc.

Aria & Julie & Alfred fell madly in love

Alfred’s pretty comfortable with how everything’s working out

Alfred even has her own awesome Instagram account and now she has a mate too- a very lucky and charming unreleasable Rock pigeon named Pirate has joined the family!

Alfred is a star!

Aria & Pirate & Julie & Alfred

Aria writes, “I never thought a pet pigeon could be like this – of course I have always thought they were funny and cute but it was not until actually spending time with Alfred that I realized how incredibly complex and emotional of an animal a pigeon is. She tells me so much just through her eyes, gestures and actions. I think many people would be shocked – I know my friends were – to find out a pigeon is much more like a cat or dog than a passive pet. She lands on my head, she gives me kisses, she sits with me for long periods. She tells me when she wants sticks or food. The companionship is amazing and it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love once this is discovered. I could not be happier – happier than I thought we would be. Yes it feels amazing to rescue this amazing girl and give her a wonderful life, but even for myself – the joy I get from seeing here everyday is unquantifiable. One of the best decisions I ever made.”

Bert is still fostered with me, still getting eye drops every day in order to defeat the persistent pseudamonis sinus infection once and for all. He is a very handsome and loveable bird, no longer pink but forever with his crossed beak. I’ve been told by more than a few people that he is their favorite.

Dr. Bianca Murphy loves Bert (and visa versa)

Bert’s a great ambassador and lots of fun to take to outreach events. Bert has come a long very way from the squab plant where he was bred to be meat. Bert’s ready to romance a lady pigeon, to be adopted, to go home. Are you ready for Bert?

Bert says Thank You for helping pigeons like him

Please sign and share our pledge to not eat squab

Learn more about King pigeons and how they wind up needing rescue

Learn about caring for rescued pigeons as pets

Apply to foster or adopt

Donate to support Palomacy

See Palomacy on Instagram


March 17, 2017
by Elizabeth

Thank You Craig Newmark & craigslist Charitable Fund!

Thank you Craig & Jim & craigslist Charitable Fund!

Since pigeons don’t have pockets, they don’t have money and so, to rescue them, Palomacy has to inspire so much generosity in so many people! Thanks to two especially supportive donors, Craig Newmark (founder of craigslist) and the craigslist Charitable Fund (led by craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster) and their two incredibly important $10,000 donations in support of our work, we are able to continue leading this compassion for all movement we call Palomacy.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for these generous gifts. Every dollar donated is one less that we have to spend time and energy seeking and these twenty thousand dollars will help us save a great many lives.

There are so many birds in need of our advocacy, so many shelters and sanctuaries that need our partnership, so many adoptions to accomplish, so many exploitive and cruel practices to expose and oppose…

We know that what we are doing is making a difference! We see every day the benefits kindness, compassion and mercy bestow, not only for the recipients but for those who give them. (See the stories here.)

In 2016, twenty six Palomacy fosters cared for 336 rescued birds! These volunteers, located from San Jose to Sacramento and everywhere in between, cared for the birds every day, fed them, cleaned up after them, transported them, healed them, promoted them, publicized them, helped 199 to get home! Palomacy also helps many wild birds find their way safely to amazing rescues like WildCare and the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. And we help lots of birds all over the country and beyond with coaching, referring and support.

Our supporters and volunteers and partners are extremely generous! And we are very, very frugal! Even so, it cost Palomacy $101,426 to do what we did in 2016. That’s not a lot for some rescues. Some raise $100K in one event! But we aren’t there yet and it takes everything we have to do what we do and raise what we need. Your ongoing support is incredibly important to us. (Read more about Craig’s support for Palomacy here.)

Thank you, Craig and craigslist Charitable Fund for investing so kindheartedly in the work that we are doing. Your support is profoundly appreciated!

Palomacy Mission Thank Craig by Julie Zhang

Palomacy Loves Craig & craigslist Charitable Fund!


March 16, 2017
by Elizabeth

Lois & Alice

Guest Post by Lynn Eaton

I have never been a bird person. Period. When I was a newly-wed a hundred years ago, my then husband brought home a Quaker parrot. It was a hate/hate relationship that lasted about two months before I insisted it be brought back to where it came from. Never understood how anyone could have these flighty, pecky, noisy, messy, and destructive little creatures in their homes. And I’m talking about birds not men. Although…

A few decades later, I currently have two indoor rescue pigeons that I would fall on a sword for. And it happened quickly. Almost like there was plan in place to shake me out of my coma-like existence when it came to pets.

A little over a year ago, I was very content with my two pedigree elderly Ragdoll cats. Enter Janice, a co-worker at a newspaper office I worked at in Malibu. Under “bunny-hugger”, there is a photo of Janice. She only worked at the paper a few hours a week and sweetly asked if I would mind assisting in the care of a “white dove” she found. She had received approval from the owner of the paper to keep this “dove” at our work place. She made it sound fun! We could have a contest at work coming up with a name! Keep it in the accounting department and listen to it coo softly all day! On and on and on.

Janice had found Lois Lane (contest winner name) stranded and unable to fly in an area of Malibu that is very tranquil and apparently, a perfect place for celebrations and dove releases. She gathered up the “dove” and took it immediately to the wildlife center where they promptly put it in with some chickens.   This niggled at Janice for several days and after gaining approval to keep the bird at work, she re-rescued Lois (for which the Center hilariously charged her) and brought her into the office.

In short order, I realized Janice nor I knew almost nothing about the care and feeding of this bird. We had a cage, some seeds and water and this pretty little bird that didn’t so much as make a peep. I’m not certain when I came across Palomacy, but I’m almost sure it was on that first day. I was totally panicked.  Elizabeth was the first and ONLY person to return my frantic calls.

Elizabeth calmly told me what to do and after describing what the bird looked like, burst my bubble by informing me that what we had was a pigeon. A “homer” at that. I fought that tooth and nail. I did not want a mere pigeon, I wanted a sweet-cooing dove. The Peace & Love and married for life kind of dove.   It took me weeks and tons of research to realize yes, Lois is a homer. Not even a King. A homer. Dumb name. As in “Homer Simpson”. I didn’t realize that homer meant HOMING PIGEON.

Poor Elizabeth was then my new best friend and I called frequently. Everything made me a nervous wreck. Was the cage big enough? How much should we feed her? Doesn’t she need another pigeon friend? Is it acceptable to leave her ALL ALONE ON WEEKENDS????  It didn’t help that Lois was going through a soft molt.

This went on for a few months and during that time Lois really was the calmest, quietest bird. So bomb-proof. We moved her cage around the office several times to find better locations, were constantly buying new and improved cage stuff (dishes, toys, mirrors and nesting thingys) and just futzing in general with her environment.

Lois at the office

In my on-going research and constant conversations with Elizabeth, I determined that Lois needed to spend time outside in the sunshine and fresh air. Lois just seemed so complacent; not unhappy but resigned. I was very twitter-pated about this. So, I purchased an Easy Up. Which is basically a big enclosed play pen for camping.  Not predator proof AT ALL but we made do. Lois now got to go outside every day. I was happy. For a few weeks.

It’s hard to believe but we rarely if at all touched this bird. We would move her cage from the office to the easy up outside, open the cage door, put a large bowl of water for her to bathe in and then take her back in at the end of the day. Janice and I were pushing hard to rescue another pigeon friend for her as she was left alone so much – especially on the weekends.  We were met with a lot of resistance from the staff. We literally did not have the room in the office for a larger cage and building an outdoor aviary was not going to happen as it took tons of begging and cajoling to even erect the Easy Up outside our office space.

Lois bathing in the Easy Up

Around this time, I decided to finally move closer to my children in Tehachapi CA.  A small mountain community 175 miles north of Malibu. As I was giving notice, I burst into tears and emphatically stated “AND I’M TAKING LOIS WITH ME”!!! Like a 5-year-old. I still can’t believe those words came out of my mouth. I was met with no resistance – more like, THANK GOD. Can we help you pack up and put the bird in the car for you? Humph!

Very quickly, I moved and installed Lois in my home where she has a Rolls Royce of a cage that she resides in only at bedtime, poops on organic bird cage paper and can fly up to specifically installed corner perches in my office/indoor aviary all day and every day.

Now it was time to adopt her a buddy! With the assistance, once again of Elizabeth, I adopted sweet, sweet Alice from Palomacy. (We each drove a couple hours and met in Fresno.) Yes, another female homing pigeon. Suffice it to say, there was a brief period of time where I was convinced Lois was a male – even renamed her Lincoln. Unfortunately, that brief period of time coincided at the exact same time I was adopting Alice. Hence, the two females. It’s not perfect but we make it work. I’m the official mate of both these girls.

L-R: Lois, Lynn, Alice

Lynn and her clever self-rescuer Super Lois

Lois & Alice meet

Thank you, Elizabeth, Palomacy and all the pigeon/dove rescuers out there. I read every single post you guys make and have learned so much this last year.   My ignorance of pigeons and birds in general proves how wrong I was and how truly adaptable these guys are. They fumble right along with you while you’re learning and never complain. That does not stop me from continuously trying to make their habitat fun and entertaining. I love the phrase: You will not save the world by adopting a pigeon, but you will save that pigeon’s world.

Lois & Alice share a double-flight cage & Lynn’s office

In conclusion, these sweet little misunderstood birds have changed my life for the better. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t laugh out loud at them.     I love them, love them, love them.

Now if I could just find a male that could take on two females…

Rescued pigeon Lois, wearing pigeon pants for the first time, leads Lynn around for a stroll. (Please note that pigeons are very vulnerable and shouldn’t be walked in unsafe locations where they could be attacked by a playful dog or hungry hawk. Pigeon pants are diapers and can’t be trusted as a safety harness. Pet pigeons have been startled and busted right out of their pants. You can learn more about pigeon pants at here.)


Lynn retired from a 35-year Mortgage Banking career and begin enjoying life from the moment she quit smoking, drinking and  finalized the sale of her company in 2012. She took on a very fun clerical position at The Malibu Times for a brief period but more importantly was introduced to the rescue pigeon Lois.     

She lived in Malibu for 30 years before moving, snatching up Lois and high-tailing it to rural Tehachapi to be closer to her grandchildren. 

She now resides in condo on a very remote golf course and is spending most days checking out the wildlife or as she says, “living the dream smack in the middle of a Walt Disney movie set.”  

She pinches herself daily. 


March 15, 2017
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

10 Tips for Finding Your Lost Pigeon


Guest Post by Molly Fox and Leslie Crawford

If you ever lose your pet pigeon, don’t despair. Pigeons want to be home and you just might be able to get yours back. Our shy and kind King Pigeon Guru flew up and into the skies above San Francisco one early evening and we thought we would never see her again. As Palomacy’s Elizabeth Young said to us that night as we walked the streets of our neighborhood looking for Guru and posting flyers, “You never realize how big the world is until you lose a bird.” Looking up at all those buildings, street after street, that’s when you think you will never again see your bird. What are the odds?

But after seven days of worrying, searching and much crying, we received a text message from someone who wrote, “Hello. We found a bird that looks like yours. Please call me.” We were stunned and only cautiously hopeful, because we knew that the survival rate for King Pigeons is only hours to days. They are big, heavy, white domestic birds bred for meat and raised as poultry and they don’t have the survival skills the scrappy, wild Rock Pigeons have. They don’t know how to forage for food or water and are easy prey for predators, including racoons, hawks, gulls, ravens, cats and dogs.

It seemed like a miracle that Guru was returned to us, and it was. But miracles happen with the help of a lot of well-meaning people and great organizations. Our miracle happened, too, thanks to Elizabeth’s calm and wise counsel. Here’s what we learned to do to have a chance of finding and saving our bird:

1. Guard against loss Of course, you never want your bird to be lost. Protect her! Take great care with doors and windows to keep your pet bird safe. Know that clipped wings will not prevent a startled bird from flying (even a heavy King Pigeon can still fly with clipped wings) and pigeon pants are more diaper than safety harness (though much better than being outside without any protection). Our Guru startled and flew right out of her pants. When outside, always keep your pet bird safe in a carrier, an aviary or harnessed and held close in your arms. And make sure you have photos of your bird. This saved us, since someone recognized our bird from the flyer we posted with her photo.

2. Keep an eye on your bird At the place where your pigeon flew away (and with any future sightings), keep your eyes locked on them to see which direction they flew and where they land. They often change course (ours did), but getting a sense of their direction can help. If your bird escaped from home, keep checking the surrounding house ledges, roof tops and power wires (they rarely perch in trees) as they are likely to come back and want to get in to their home. (They’ll be spooked and nervous, though, so don’t chase them. Lure them into an open aviary or home with food or their mate safely caged). If you see your bird at night, the pigeon will be tired and, with poor night vision, likely stay put till dawn. If your pigeon can be reached, catching them where they are roosting at night is a possibility. If it’s during the day, use food or run the hose (they will be thirsty and recognize the sight and sound of water) to get the bird to come to you. If your bird has a mate, bring him or her with you. If you find your bird, this will help ensure your bird doesn’t fly away since they have a strong connection with each other. If your bird doesn’t have a mate, but you have other birds, bring the closest member of the flock, whichever one it gets along with best. Remember: Time is of the essence. The sooner you do the following steps to try to find your bird, the better a chance you have to get your bird back safely.

3. Get (and keep) the word out on social media Post messages (include photo of lost bird, location last seen including city and state, date lost and your contact info) on as many social media sites you can, such as your Facebook page, Twitter, as well as other websites such as craigslist (the first place many finders of lost birds post), Nextdoor (a fantastic resource for anyone looking for a lost pet) and even an international bird-finding site we discovered called Parrot Alert.com. Keep re-posting so that your lost bird post is seen by as many people as possible. The more people who are looking out for your lost pigeon, the more likely she is to get home.

4. Contact Palomacy  They can advise you about your specific situation. A pigeon who gets lost by flying out from her home or aviary is more likely to return home than one lost elsewhere and will need a different kind of assistance. Some pigeons (Homers, Racers, Rock Pigeons) have excellent homing abilities and are good flyers and have better odds of getting back home safely. King Pigeons, Fantails, and many of the fancy breeds have poor homing and flying skills and will need extra help to get home. Palomacy will also post on their Facebook pages and help alert the pigeon rescue community, which will notify lots of bird lovers to be on the lookout and to share on their pages

5. Post & distribute flyers Put flyers up around your neighborhood (this is where photos that you lovingly took of your bird come in handy), including at your local pet stores and vets, which is where the animal-loving folks will really spread the word. Given that we found our bird about two miles from where she flew away, if possible, flyer beyond your immediate neighborhood.

6. Contact your local pet adoption organizations & rescues We live in San Francisco, so we alerted WildCare (they rescue lots of pigeons) and Animal Care & Control (SFACC). SFACC is an amazing open-door shelter that takes in several rescued pigeons every week, including two King pigeons found stray the week Guru was missing. (By comparing photos of their faces, we could tell by their eye rings that they were not ours.)

Guru- lost 2/13/17

Boots- rescued 2/14/17

Fennel- rescued 2/16/17

Our bird Guru had been taken to SFACC when she was first rescued as a baby and that is where she was when Palomacy took her in on 6/19/14. They also are the reason we found her! We had posted a flyer there and someone had seen it. He later happened to be walking by the couple who had found our weak pigeon and told them he recognized our bird. They went back home, looked on the SFACC website, and contacted us. We answered immediately and drove in our PJ’s to their place to recover our bird, with plenty of happy tears.


7. Walk the neighborhood every day We kept returning to the spot where Guru had flown away. On the way, we would talk to a lot of people (and educated them about rescue pigeons and Palomacy) and put up flyers around the neighborhood. Several people sent us text messages saying they’d seen a bird or asking how they could help. Just having this moral support, and added faith in humanity, helped us, even if we still hadn’t found our bird.

8. Get a humane bird trap Elizabeth brought a “one-way” humane trap to our house that she set up in front of our aviary in case Guru flew home during the day. She put food inside the trap so that if Guru could find her way back home, she’d go into the trap and be held until we returned. If your aviary is outside, another possibility is to lock the other birds in predator-proof carriers inside and leave the aviary door open (during the day only, not safe at night!). As Elizabeth reminded us, pigeons want to get back home.

9. Worst-case scenario If after an extended amount of time (about a month), your bird isn’t found, talk to Palomacy or your local pet shelter about adopting a new mate for the widowed bird (unless you had a single).

10. Best-case scenario: Your bird is reunited with their people and bird family!  Check them over as stray birds are often injured and feathers can hide a lot. Give them a lot of nutritional food and water. Never let their bowls go empty. Make sure they have a clean bowl for bathing. They are so happy to be back in a safe sanctuary and are ready for a pigeon spa. Our bird was so dirty and it took lots of baths until she was back to her pristine self.

Molly & Leslie with Pax & Guru- found!

Finally, we aren’t including this in the list, but we made an offering to the universe that if we got Guru back, we’d donate $100 to Palomacy and not eat chocolate for a week. We were thrilled to have made the donation and every time we were tempted, but didn’t eat chocolate, it reminded us of how lucky we were to get Guru back. But we also realized that getting Guru back wasn’t pure luck. It was thanks to a lot of people and great organizations that act as a safety net for lost animals. Palomacy, our local animal shelter, and caring people who rescued our bird worked together to get her safely back to her nest.

Pax & Guru so happy to be reunited

So, if there were a number 11 on our list, the tip is to keep trying and keep hoping. After a week, we had almost lost all hope, but still kept looking. Then, we were reunited. Guru was exhausted, thin and very hungry, but uninjured. She was so lucky! She had actually gone two miles in the wrong direction. Her mate, Pax, who had missed her so much, was so mad at her when she returned (“Where were you!?”), he pecked at her and made angry cooing noises. But within a half hour, all was forgiven and she was sitting on his head. True love.


Molly Fox is the proud friend and guardian of four King Pigeons: Guru, her prodigal bird; Pax; Johnson, and Ajax. She is a fierce defender of pigeons, an animal rights activist, and Palomacy diplomat. Leslie Crawford is the proud mother of Molly.


March 7, 2017
by Elizabeth

Pigeon with a Broken Neck Recovers at WildCare

I have seen a lot of pigeon rescue stories and this is one of the most amazing. The incredible staff & volunteers of WildCare treat thousands of sick & injured wild animals including more than 600 pigeons every year (the vast majority of whom are saved & released back to their wild lives). Palomacy, created to save domestic & unreleasable pigeons & doves from shelter euthanasia, is extremely grateful to have such an amazing & dedicated rescue partner for the wild pigeons of the Bay Area. 

Reprinted with Permission from WildCare


Pigeon with broken neck... before and after. Photos by Melanie Piazza
Intake Day 1. Photo by Melanie Piazza


When this pigeon’s rescuers saw her lying in a contorted position on the sidewalk in Oakland, California, they thought she was dead. But then she tried to move, and rescuers realized the bird was alive. When they picked her up, her neck was hanging to her feet with her head twisted upside down.

Knowing that WildCare is one of the few centers that treats injured Rock Pigeons, they quickly drove her across the bridge to San Rafael.
Upon arrival at WildCare, the fledgling pigeon was rushed into intensive care to determine what was actually wrong with her and what, if anything, could be done to help her. Pigeons can suffer from a virus called Paramixovirus (PMV) which causes neurological symptoms and loss of motor control. Unfortunately this virus can also mimic numerous afflictions such as poisoning and head trauma. WildCare Medical Staff needed to determine the cause of this pigeon’s severe neck twist in order to determine the best course of treatment.

The pigeon was given pain medications and anti-inflammatories. Radiographs (x-rays) were taken and they clearly revealed that this bird did in fact have a compression fracture of the neck so we could rule out PMV and poisoning. We will never know whether the pigeon injured herself in her first attempt at flight from the nest, landing improperly on sidewalk below, or if she had been resting on the sidewalk and a passerby caused her harm.

A broken neck is a very serious injury for any species but this pigeon had a lot going for her. She was young (growing baby animals can heal very quickly) and despite her injury, she still had use of all her limbs. And of course, she was here with us at WildCare!

We need YOUR support to help injured animals like this one! Click to become a monthly sustaining donor to WildCare and know that whatever amount you can give every month makes a real and tangible difference to injured wildlife!

It was clear that this case was a long shot and was going to require intensive, around-the-clock care so Director of Animal Care, Melanie Piazza, took on the challenge, applying techniques learned from past cases of nestling songbirds with similar neck injuries.

Day 4 (trying a different splint design using a trimmed toilet paper roll). The bird can already somewhat hold her head up. Photos by Melanie Piazza


Melanie worked to design a neck brace that would keep the bird’s neck in alignment so it could heal properly, but that wouldn’t be so heavy that the bird couldn’t remain upright. The brace also had to allow enough space for the pigeon to be tube-fed four times a day, and also to allow her crop (located at the base of the bird’s neck) to hold food without causing regurgitation.

Melanie tried many iterations of neck braces which changed as the pigeon’s strength, activity level and size changed. She tried adapting various items to create what was needed, including a padded toilet paper tube roll! Her most successful design was the most minimal. The base layer was the soft bandage material called cast padding, which was then covered by “vet wrap,” a flexible wrap that sticks only to itself, not to the patient in care. This brace provided the stability required.

As light as Melanie made the brace, it was still too heavy for the bird to hold upright on her own. Melanie devised a wrapping technique that brought a strap of the vet wrap from the neck brace over the bird’s back and under her wings, creating a sort of “figure-eight” suspender system that took the tension and weight of the brace off of the bird’s neck. These “suspenders” allowed her to hold her head up and walk normally. The bird’s caging was a pet carrier with lots of rolled padding on all sides and a ramp pillow of sorts to keep her from being too active and to help her rest and support her neck whenever she needed it.

In addition to pain medications, the pigeon was also put on a course of calcium to assist her healing and growing bones. She was tube-fed four times a day as she could not eat with the contraption on. The brace was changed every two days and the bird’s weight, pain medications and general progress were closely monitored at WildCare during the day, and she stayed in home care with Melanie through the nights and weekends.

In the video below, taken four days after the brace was first applied, although she is obviously still wobbly and somewhat crooked, the pigeon is already starting to be able hold her head up on her own!

On day 5 another set of radiographs were taken to check her progress and Medical Staff was amazed to see the degree of healing that had taken place in such a short time! Melanie started leaving the brace off overnight, to give the bird time to build her strength and also to do some much-needed grooming. As the days passed, she became increasingly able to hold her head up with less shaking for longer periods of time and the padding was removed from her carrier, allowing her more space to move around.

While her neck fracture was still healing we could not risk placing her in a cage with other rambunctious fledgling pigeons. We put a mirror in her carrier with her and her carrier was placed next to others, but this wasn’t enough interaction for such a socially developed species. By day 10 the bird was strong enough to be introduced to other pigeons her own age in a much roomier cage!

In the video below, you can see the first meeting of our patient and her two new friends. To everyone’s astonishment, she watched them self-feeding from a dish and almost immediately copied their behavior, eating out of the dish on her own with the neck brace on! This was something Melanie had been trying to get her to do but assumed she could not because of the brace. This is one of the reasons WildCare always raises orphaned baby animals with members of their own species– they learn so much from each other.

On day 14, just two weeks after her debilitating neck fracture, the brace has been removed and the pigeon is fully functioning! She is currently growing and learning with her new friends and soon the trio will be graduating to an outdoor aviary to learn how to fly. Watch the video below to see our pigeon patient now looking sleek and healthy. We’re so pleased with her amazing recovery and so happy she has a second chance at a life in the wild!


March 6, 2017
by Elizabeth

Miu the Emotional Support Pigeon

Guest Post by Cynthia Zhou

Cynthia & Miu

Many people may have heard about Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) through stories of strange animals on airplane flights, such as pigs or turkeys. Recently, there has been an increase in websites that claim to certify your pet as an ESA so that they can fly for free. While these websites undermine their credibility, ESAs have a very real and strong impact on people with symptoms of a mental or emotional disability that may not necessarily be visible. They are not service animals and do not require specialized training. They provide benefits through companionship, affection, and their existence.


Miu makes a difference

Miu is a Palomacy rescue that caught my eye when I wasn’t even looking for a pigeon. They’re not popular birds for companionship, but I think it would surprise most people to know how affectionate, emotional, and even entertaining they can be. My history with birds is limited to paired diamond doves and I love their presence, but they don’t like interacting with humans. Imagine my surprise when I saw Palomacy post about a homing pigeon who, despite everything she had just gone through, was tame and friendly. As soon as she arrived at our apartment, she showered everyone with pigeon kisses. She came to me at a really low point, and I’d like to be honest about this to show just how much impact her presence made. As a college student, I hadn’t been able to attend most of my classes that semester. I had been spending the majority of my days in bed, unable to find a reason to get up in the mornings and exhausted at the thought of simple things, such as eating or even just walking to the kitchen. I know it’s not something that makes much logical sense, and I was very aware of how illogical this was. I still am – I just couldn’t do anything about it, no matter how hard I thought or how much I wanted to. For me, this is what major depression looks like.


Miu at school

The reason that these stories often sound trite or cheesily motivational is because people only talk about it after something changes. I wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone at the time, because time was one long period of staying in a dark bedroom and not much else. Miu was the light for me. She gave me a reason to get up in the mornings, to stay up throughout the day, and the most surprising of all – when I had my first panic attack after she arrived, I locked myself in the bathroom to wait it out and heard flapping wings outside. I opened the door a few minutes later and found her sitting right outside. The comfort that she brings is indescribable. She’s calm when I’m not, she’s something to hold and love even when nothing else appears to be working. She exists. Sometimes all I need is for something to exist with me, and she does that constantly and without complaint.


Miu radiates love and gentleness

Although she fulfilled all of the requirements for an ESA since she arrived, I decided to get documentation for Miu before traveling home for the holidays. They’re always a difficult time of year, so I wanted to take her back on a flight with me. This involved having a licensed medical professional confirm that she is a necessary accommodation, among other requirements found here.


Miu, ready to board the plane

I expected some judgment or hostility from people who may dislike pigeons at the airport, but it is a testament to her gentle nature that the reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Several security officers were delighted when I held her for our private search, and one of them even followed her on Instagram! Many people told me they had never seen a pigeon at the airport, and they were delighted at how calm and serene she was in the noisy environment. Young children stared at her with wide eyes, their parents told me she’s beautiful, and a flight attendant even asked me to go to the back of the airplane so she could take a picture of Miu, then a picture with Miu. She told me that she hadn’t seen a bird on her plane in 20 years, and that we absolutely made her day. Through it all, Miu was well-behaved and made many friends both for herself, and pigeons in general.


Miu has a window seat

Miu flying the new-fashioned way

I hope that pigeons are able to gain more attention as calm, loving pets. They make wonderful companions and Miu is such a bright light in my life. She’s helped me more than I could’ve imagined. It may be naive to think that one bird can solve everything, and that’s not what I’m saying – but sometimes, one bird can be the push that begins the enormous and exhausting process of improving. She’s on my side and helping me along, and that’s more than I could’ve asked for from a small, beautiful pigeon. (See Miu’s rescue story.)



Cynthia is a 4th year student at UC Berkeley, studying Molecular Biology with a concentration in Animal Health. Her claim to fame is living with (and cleaning up after) several Tumblr-famous birds. Despite poor attendance, she managed to get good grades last semester and is still on track to graduate on time. She credits Miu with providing good company and encouragement during finals week, and hopes to dedicate her post-grad life to wildlife rehabilitation and rescue work.




February 3, 2017
by Elizabeth

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)


January 27, 2017
by Elizabeth

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. 20% of the price is donated directly to Palomacy to support their rescue work! 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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