Liberty the Blind Dove | The Palomacy Blog

July 7, 2017
by Shae
1 Comment

Three Days With Liberty

Guest Post by Shae Irving

Liberty the Blind Dove | The Palomacy Blog

On a clear morning in May, Elizabeth sent an email to a group of Palomacy volunteers in the North Bay: A woman had unexpectedly passed away leaving a flock of doves with no one to care for them. Palomacy was too full to bring them into foster care, so could somebody please help the family transport the doves to the Marin Humane Society?

My afternoon was open so I raised my hand to help out. When I arrived at the woman’s home, I met two concerned cousins, each doing everything they could to handle a sad and challenging situation, including making a responsible plan for the nine ringneck doves who had been, in the words of one cousin, the woman’s whole life up to the time of her death.

The doves seemed healthy and well-cared for but I was shocked to discover that one of them was blind! Before heading out that day, I had asked Elizabeth if I should let her know about any special needs and she said no—that I should secure them and transport them and alert MHS to anything unusual.

“We just can’t rescue them all,” she said.

I understood this. Palomacy is over full with 140 birds in our foster care and already caring for a great number with special needs, and resources are limited. To keep this work going and to help more birds like these sweet doves, the organization needs more adopters, fosterers, volunteers, and donors. Knowing this, I took a deep breath and reinforced my determination to simply do what I was asked: Pack up the birds and get them safely to the shelter.

I loaded nine doves (in six carriers!) and one cousin into my Subaru wagon, the little blind dove riding in a cage on the cousin’s lap. This dove—no one knew her name or the names of any of the other doves but one, an aggressive male named “Muffin”—was missing one eye and blind in the other and she had a big bald spot on top of her head. My guess was that she had been injured early in her life in a fight with another member of the flock and then housed by herself, with the woman as her primary companion. She was very quiet on the ride, gathered completely into herself and moving very little.

The truth is, at first I could hardly look at her for fear of heartbreak. I knew almost nothing about her previous life but it was enough to understand that she had just lost her world and that she wasn’t likely to survive at the shelter. It was highly unlikely that a maimed, blind bird would be deemed adoptable. I imagined she might be euthanized before the day was done and I was trying (not very successfully) to avoid becoming attached.

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

Nine doves!

At MHS, we placed all the birds in their carriers and cages in a holding room. On my way out the door, when I thought I was turning my back on the blind dove forever, I heard an insistent coo. Muffin, the alpha male, was getting all worked up in his cage. None of the other doves responded to his outburst except the blind one: She suddenly stood up straight and let out a series of enthusiastic coos and a “laugh” that I wouldn’t have thought she had in her. Then she started to preen. Tears sprang to my eyes.

I sent Elizabeth a text and a photo:

“Oh, Elizabeth, all these doves look great except this old sweetie who is blind and nearly immobile – but still laughing and preening. Hard to leave her here (hard to leave ANY of them here) but is there any other choice?”

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

Our first photo of the dove soon to be known as Liberty

Elizabeth never got that text, nor did I get a message saying it failed to go through. While I thought I was waiting to hear back from her, we went ahead with the surrender paperwork at the front counter. I had to keep looking away from the desk because I didn’t want the kind cousin to see me crying. I was trying to get it together. She had just lost a family member and was working so hard to help. I was supposed to be the strong one here!

Finally, I sent another text to Elizabeth. In this one, I sound resigned, but really I wasn’t at all:

“Okay, they’re all checked in . . . the little old blind one will be assessed and hopefully deemed adoptable. I’m all teary.”

Then came the text I expected:

“I didn’t know one was old & blind! We’ll take that one. Can you reach out to MHS & let them know ASAP?”

I flew into action:

“I’ll bring her home and we can figure out where she’ll go from there. Honestly, I didn’t think you’d want me to leave an old single blind bird here.”

Said Elizabeth:

“You were right. Sometimes the only thing we can do is help one more.”

That’s why Palomacy is so special! And that’s how Palomacy and I met the dove I soon named Liberty — or Libby for short.

Here is Libby’s blind but otherwise uninjured eye . . .

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

And here is the side that got so badly hurt . . .

Liberty's Left Side | The Palomacy Blog

When I brought Liberty home, I had four pigeons of my own in outdoor aviaries, plus I was bird-sitting a charming indoor ringneck dove named Lucky (also a Palomacy rescue). I have a fair amount of experience with these coo-birds, but being with a blind bird was brand new to me. For guidance, I turned to Elizabeth (of course!) but also to the mysterious, tiny being beside me. She might not be able to see or use human-speak, but I knew she could tell me a lot about herself and what she needed.

Knowing she was used to a woman’s voice, I talked to her in soothing tones. I hoped that hearing my voice would help her relax and begin to get oriented. Indeed, her hearing was very sensitive and she quickly clued into wherever I was in the room. When I was nearby, I would be sure to speak to her and let her know what I was doing: “Hi Libby, it’s just me, sweetie. I’m going to open your cage door now, okay?”

When I reached my hand into her cage to gently stroke her neck, I was amazed by her response. She leaned into my hand as soon as she sensed it, perking up and clicking her wings. Again, it became obvious that there was a lot more life in this little girl than I could see with my two good eyes. I could feel that she wanted to step right up onto my hand. Lifting her up while protecting her with my other hand, I drew her close to my chest. From there, all she wanted to do was snuggle or, at other times, walk up the front of me and nestle into my neck or hunker down on my shoulder. (I would let her do the shoulder balance only with something behind us, like the back of the couch, to avoid unpleasant surprises. I had no idea if she could fly; for her safety I had to assume that she could fall.)

When Libby felt social and safe, she would begin to coo — and then she would coo and coo and coo and coo. I said to Elizabeth, watch out, this bird will knock the love socks right off you. She is absolutely irresistible and I wished I could have kept her with me forever. Right now, she’s soaking up the wonderful foster care of sisters Paloma and Vivia and their mom, Dale. They didn’t have her long before they fully understood why I cried (again!) when I left her with them. Everyone falls hard in love with Libby!

Liberty With Vivia | The Palomacy Blog

Vivia and Liberty meeting for the first time

Just a few more things I learned from Libby:

1. A stuffed chicken feels kind of like someone’s shoulder, but standing on it doesn’t work too well! (This gave me the idea to make a more stable, shoulder-like bolster for her cage by stuffing a sock with beans.)

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog
2. A log may seem secure at first but it might roll if not supported, giving both bird and foster-care-person quite a surprise. (Necessity being the mother of invention, I fashioned a brace for the log from two small dowels and some masking tape.)

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

3. Setting a blind bird right in the middle of a big dish of seeds will encourage them to eat because there’s food wherever they turn. (Elizabeth taught me this. It’s good to know!)

4. A glass pie plate filled with about an inch of water and set on the floor makes an acceptable bathtub. (Libby took one big bath in the time she was with me, raising one wing at a time and leaning into the water, then ducking in breast first like any other bird would, shaking water all over the room.)

5. Some time spent in natural sunlight is important for good health and might even stimulate regrowth of lost feathers. (Another excellent tip from Elizabeth.)

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

Libby was also great at letting me know when she did and didn’t want to be held. Sometimes she was clearly excited to be picked up and sometimes she ignored my hand when I offered it to her, letting me know she preferred to rest. But I know she always listened to me when I came in and out of the room and that she truly seemed to like and rely on the sound of my voice. After she was gone, I missed her so much that for a little while I kept right on talking to her.

Hey, Libby, I hope you’re doing well at your new foster home. I know they’re going to love you and take good care of you.

Hi, Sweet Liberty, thank you for letting me get to know you.

Okay, Libby, I’m going out now, I won’t forget about you!

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

Liberty and me

Most of Liberty’s friends are still at the Marin Humane Society and AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION. Please visit this link and enter “Bird” in the search box to view all the doves and pigeons at MHS.

Shae Irving has loved pigeons and doves since she was rescued by a king pigeon way back in 1993. She’s been a Palomacy adopter and volunteer since 2011 (she helped Elizabeth set up this very website) and she currently belongs to three adopted pigeons: Gem, Haiku, and recent widower Yuzu. Shae works as a writer, editor, and social media manager and she lives in Fairfax with her husband, Stewart. You can follow her (and her bird friends) on Instagram @shaeirving.


June 11, 2017
by Elizabeth
Comments Off on Captain Jack’s Amazing Rescue Story

Captain Jack’s Amazing Rescue Story

Guest Post in 2 Parts by Mallika Upadrasta & Melne Murphy

Pigeon says, Help?

PART 1 Mallika Upadrasta: I was getting out of my friend’s car in a hurry to catch the train at Ashby BART station. I saw him land on one of those huge concrete flower planters on the side walk. Even as he was flying down I knew something was wrong with him. He sat uncomfortably, bunching up his feathers. He got up and started limping around, pecking for food in the dirt. That’s when I saw that one of his legs was missing. Most of the feathers on his back were missing. He flew down from the concrete planter to the side walk and sat there, unable to move too much. Passersby would walk close and see him on the ground but nobody had the time to stop for him.

Injured by a hawk strike or car collision?

I tried getting closer to him but it only scared him more. So I tried to stay at a safe distance and kept a watch on him, all the while trying to reach rescue centers. It was almost 5 in the evening and almost all the places were closed. Nobody was available after business hours. I got an email address from one of the automated messages. Totally not expecting a response, sure that nobody looks as much at emails, I sent an email to with a picture of him. I got a response in half hour, directing me to keep him safe and ask for help from passersby to catch him while she tried to find a volunteer to come help. My phone battery was dying and I knew my family would get worried. I had already tried to grab him many times in those two hours but it was impossible. His reflexes were way faster than mine. I tried feeding him my leftover lunch and he liked that. I got closer to him and started moving my hand close to his beak so he would trust me but I guess it doesn’t work that instantly as he flew off to a far planter when I made my final attempt to catch him. In despair, I walked to the train.

Click the image to see Mallika’s videos

I felt so guilty leaving him there. While on the train I got a call from a lady asking about the pigeon. It lifted my spirits! I texted his location hoping he would still be there. He was! I got a text back with his picture after the rescue. All this while, Ms. Elizabeth Young was communicating over the email with me. The lady who rescued was Melne Murphy! I couldn’t be more thankful to them. I have been getting updates about him. Melne took him to the bird hospital the next morning and, because he only has one leg, he will need a forever home. I was asked if I could take him and I am excited about fostering him! We named him Captain Jack after Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean. Like him, our Jack is brave and has a limp just like a pirate! Our little fellow is very curious and quite friendly for a pigeon.

Thanks to Melne, Elizabeth and the doctors who are treating him. They are amazing!

I am a pharmaceutical engineer. Came to the USA on a work project. I live with my husband in Fremont. My love for animals all sizes comes from my mom. I like to upcycle from cardboard, craft and watch movies in my free time. I think Becky from Finding Dory is one of the most hilarious characters ever.



PART 2 Melne Murphy: Moe and I arrived at the Ashby BART station, and an inital scan of the large planters outside the station where the bird had last been seen showed nary a bird. We compared the planters to the photos we’d been sent to insure we were in the right place. We were, but no birds. It was nearly 6:30, and the remains of the day were steely grey with the an unseasonal rain storm. Knowing that with the fading light the birds are beginning to think more about roosting than foraging, I began to think that we’d have no luck finding this one bird.

With no birds on the upper level, we proceeded down to the BART entrance to below the road level to see if we had any sightings. We spied a couple of pigeons all tucked in for the night high above our heads on a ledge, and that served to reaffirm my thought that we weren’t going to find this one bird. As we walked along, we picked up and disposed of 6-8 hair extensions that were laying on the ground– items like human hair or hair extensions are one of the prime reasons for pigeon stringfoot injuries.

Nearing the BART entrance, I spied a flock of pigeons on the far end, and quickened my pace to scan for our little injured guy. I almost immediately spied a limping pigeon headed with intent toward a small gap between the station wall and another structure, about 5″ wide. That was the bird! I signaled for Moe to hurry with the pet carrier, removing my coat to free up arm mobility.

Just as I neared, the bird slipped into the gap. I heard an angry “COO!” eminating from the recesses of the gap, and peered in to see our target– but deeper in, a rather angry pigeon who was all about defending his space from the intruder. I reached in, and the bird scurried away from me, but then he was faced with his angry peer, pecking and cooing with gusto. Our bird faltered and ran back toward the exit, despite the evil human hands there. I made a grab for him, and, perhaps with not the most graceful catch, caught him nonetheless. He struggled mightily, and after a failed attempt to get him in the carrier backwards, we turned him around (head first works best!) and popped him into the carrier.


Awaiting him in there was a big handful of delicious seeds, and by the time we had walked back to the car, the bird was busy stuffing his beak. (NOTE- What we did here was wrong! We let him eat a handful of seed, and seeing he’d eaten it all, gave him another handful. When I dropped him off at the veterinarian the next morning, the vet commented that his crop was HUGE! He informed me that a starving bird (or any other starving creature) needs to use some of its depleted store of energy for digestion, and if you feed too much right away, it can actually lead to the gastro-intestinal tract shutting down. I will remember this in the future, and only feed a small amount at first. The bird will be fine, but I could have caused it worse problems by offering it an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord.)

The very next morning I took our little charge out to Medical Center for Birds, and the doctor informed me that the bird lost a leg due to injury, and said the leg had not completely healed, so the injury was fairly recent. He also was missing two toes from the other foot, and a lot of feathers on his back, including his entire tail. And, since foraging on one leg is inordinately difficult for a pigeon, he was extremely thin. If I were to posit a guess, I’d say the bird had been struck by a car.

Hospitalized at Medical Center for Birds

The doctor said this pigeon will not be able to return to the wild. The missing leg makes it too difficult for him to forage effectively, so he will be looking for a forever home. The good news is, the doctor said that during his exam, the bird was extremely calm and displayed a great disposition, and will likely make a very good companion pigeon. Anyway, that is the story of the rescue of this little sweet bird, thanks to Mallika, an observant BART rider who took the time and had the tenacity to find this little pigeon person some help.

Melne is fond of all birds, wild and domestic, but ever since befriending a flock of pigeons in downtown Oakland, she has found a special kinship with Columba Livia. She is a volunteer for Palomacy, and currently lives with three pigeons, Bowie, a dark checker feral male adopted from Medical Center for Birds, and two Palomacy birds–his mate Carlita, a Budapest Short-faced Tumbler, and Palomacy foster bird Banano, a fancy female Roller, plus two Green Cheek Conures, Cheeky and Sage.

Moe discovered a love for pigeons by interacting with a flock in Oakland, and has assisted in numerous feral pigeon rescues, with a keen eye for finding nestlings in trouble. He now has relationships with three different flocks across the East Bay, and appreciates their understated beauty and amusing antics. He has volunteered for Palomacy fundraising events and Aviary maintenance.
Note from Elizabeth: Thank you to Mallika for all she did to ensure that poor little Captain Jack got the help he needed. She saved his life by reaching out and persisting till she found help for him and thank you to Melne and Moe for dropping everything to rush out and rescue him. Please support the work Palomacy does- donate, volunteer, foster and/or adopt!


May 22, 2017
by Elizabeth
Comments Off on Self-Rescuing Pigeon Sochi Selected for Photo Contest!

Self-Rescuing Pigeon Sochi Selected for Photo Contest!

Congratulations to Super* Sochi the self-rescuing King pigeon and his rescuer and photographer Patti Delaney! This beautiful photo, taken while Sochi was making a very special new friend at an outreach event earlier this year, has made it into Global Giving’s 2017 Photo Contest as a semi-finalist! Please support us with your vote and help us compete for the $1000 prize and lots of extra publicity! Contest voting starts now and goes through Friday, May 26th at 9 AM PT. Only one vote per person and email verification is required. (*Self-rescuing pigeons who, like Sochi, inspire the rescue and adoption of other pigeons are promoted to the status of Super!)

Sochi is an expert ambassador who loves making new friends & inspiring compassion. Photo by Patti Delaney

Sochi’s Story

Guest Post by Patti Delaney

On February 18, 2014, I arrived home from work to find my husband sitting on the planter box in the front yard talking to a pigeon. He said it wouldn’t leave. I suspected something was wrong with it, injured or sick. I threw my sweater over it and put it in a cat carrier. I sent a picture to Elizabeth Young at Palomacy, asking “What do I have?” “Domestic, unreleasable King pigeon bred for meat, squab”, she said.

In need of help…


I brought him to see her at the next outreach and confirmed he bird was a big, male King pigeon in great shape considering he had been out alone and unprotected.

Patti & Sochi

The Winter Olympics were on and the landscape of the Olympics in Sochi resembled the coloring of this pigeon—he was named Sochi.

Sochi stayed indoors in a cat condo until a used aviary could be assembled and refurbished. We paired him up with a pigeon we thought was female, Pearl, but who turned out to be male too. This paring was not a good match. Eventually two rescued female domestic pigeons were introduced to Sochi and Pearl. The aviary was too small for all four pigeons. Sochi and his chosen girl, Amica, stayed; Pearl and Xena left to be fostered.

Sochi & Pearl

Amica & Pearl

Last July, another self-rescuing domstic pigeon, dyed, starving and near death, landed on a relative’s window sill. After nursing her back to life and when she was strong enough, she was placed in a cage within the aviary. We named her Jo Jo. Jo Jo loved Sochi, but Amica refused to share Sochi. This was not a good situation.

Jo Jo the day she was rescued

Jo Jo recovering

Our solution was to build a big, beautiful 8’ x 10’ aviary. With the help of Palomacy, we found a mate for Jo Jo and brought back Pearl and Xena to be adopted. They are all home. There is no bullying from Sochi. In fact, he is a healthy, happy pigeon with Amica and all his flock mates. (Turns out it is easier to care for a flock of pigeons than just a couple!) Periodically he goes to outreach events. He does a great job and thoroughly enjoys the attention.

Jo Jo, fully recovered & married to Domino

Happy flock in the aviary home Sochi inspired

Patti & Sochi winning new friends for pigeons

Don’t forget to vote for Super Sochi and please share with your friends!

Patti Delaney is a long-time bird lover. In 1992, she met and purchased a 5-year old Umbrella Cockatoo, Lacy. Wanting to learn more about bird care, she became a member of the Capitol City Bird Society. In the Sacramento community, she was a paid guest speaker with Lacy. When Lacy died unexpectedly in 2009, she found and adopted an Umbrella Cockatoo, Georgi, from the bird rescue, Mickaboo. This is when she met Elizabeth Young with Palomacy (previously MickaCoo) and became knowledgeable and passionate about stopping the exploitation of domestic pigeons and doves.


May 22, 2017
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Luci Fancypants Pigeon; a Story for Children of All Ages

Guest Post by Kyra Richter


If there are two things that define me, it is my love of nature and my love of illustration. I have my mother to thank for inciting that passion for all living things. Growing up, my mother would always take time to go exploring with me. She would point out all the little creatures and tell me stories about their tiny but busy and important lives. To this day, I always step over an ant line or let a beetle cross the sidewalk. My mother would tell me they had places to go, other bugs to see and important roles to play in nature.

Me and my mom.

Later, as I fell in love with art, and began illustrating, she always encouraged me by saying “you need to make a book!” But we often think moms just say these things because they only have eyes for their children. As time passed, more and more people would encourage me to illustrate children’s books. I just didn’t have the right story. Well, the character and the story finally came the day I met Luci.

Baby Luci

A year ago, I arrived at work to find someone had left a bucket on my desk. Inside it was a baby pigeon. I work in the environmental department of a power plant, so I guess they figured I’d know what to do. I had no idea what to do. I had never interacted with a bird before, much less a pigeon. But here was this little face looking at me with no fear and absolute trust. Thank goodness for Google, who let me to Palomacy; and Youtube where I watched videos of people feeding squabs! I learned quickly and little Luci was a good teacher too. All my intentions of rearing her to return to freedom failed as Luci very quickly took to us (me and my husband) as his new parents. We did our best to give Luci as much freedom as (safely) possible. Part of having a free roaming bird at home meant we had to locate and purchase little “pigeon pants” so Luci would not make messes all over the place. One day I was at the grocery store when I got a frightened call from my husband who said that Luci had gotten out an open window- while wearing pants. All I could picture was a pigeon landing on a wire with other wild pigeons and being mercilessly teased beacause: pants! It’s comical but we were very worried. This was for naught as Luci came back within the hour. We were all very lucky and learned our lesson. Luci had changed our opinion about those plain gray birds people often call “rats with wings”. Luci is intelligent, has a very unique personality, and is very playful and loving. Caring for one rescue quickly turned into fostering and caring for more pigeons, mostly so Luci would not be alone (He now actually has a wife- Stella- another hand raised rescue).

Luci & Stella

Here was my story at last! In addition, I was inspired by how beautiful pigeons are, once you take a moment to look at them you can’t take your eyes off them. So I started to draw them, and as I did so the story fully developed. This story has been lovingly illustrated in watercolor and ink under the careful supervision of Luci and Stella (you may have noticed that Luci is a “he” and not a “she”, something which took us some time to figure out and hence the odd spelling of his name). In this story, I hope to share the wonder and beauty of the smallest and plainest things. I hope children will be interested in the adventures they can have in their own back yard, observing ants, busy bees and butterflies, and see the joy that can be had from the simplest friendship- be it with a bird or with that one kid who does not look like the rest. Ultimately, that we are all unique and special and friendship can be found if only we are open to it.


Publishers tend to not be interested in publishing total unknowns. It is easier to self-publish. Did you know Beatrix Potter self-published the first edition of Peter Rabbit? I decided to self-publish, but in order to do this I need to crowdfund. So I began a Kickstarter campaign to help me collect the funds necessary to publish this childrens book.

With your pledge, I will be able to publish this book as an 11″ X 8.5″ hardbound book with a dust jacket and coated matte paper so that the 24 pages of illustrations can look their best. The book will be competitively priced and once this is up and running and 10% of profits will go to Palomacy, who provided me with the guidance I needed to be able to raise three healthy and happy pigeons, and successfully rehabilitate four others this past year (see my endorsement on Great Nonprofits).

The pledges also come with little extras, like signed 8″ X 8″ high quality prints of my watercolors, thank you cards illustrated by me, and even original illustrations from the book (that will be hard to part with!). A limited number will also receive an original watercolor pigeon portrait (mine, or yours if you have a pigeon you want me to paint a portrait of)! Should I be fortunate enough to overfund the project, I’d print more books but also be able to improve the rewards (like a T-shirt or baby onsie, for which I have designs!).

As many of you know, shipping across the Atlantic or, pretty much anywhere outside of the US is costly, and I aim to ensure you get a pristine book. Packaging and shipping will be part of the experience of getting a quality product. I have estimated approximately 4% for changes in pricing (I have my estimates but shipping costs could change) or, given that this is my first time, any errors in my estimation of costs. As mentioned above, at this point in time, any profits will be donated to Palomacy.

Please visit the Kickstarter Campaign for details on pledges, rewards, and an explanation of risks and challenges and how crowdfunding campaigns work.

I am so delighted with this project, and loving every second of this experience. I believe the story, as simple as it may seem, has a lot to impart to children. I already began layout for more stories. It is my intention that this is the beginning of a new path for me: illustrating stories and helping to draw attention to these most lovely and special birds. As an environmental manager, I have lived the frustration of how some birds are protected but the pigeon, which is not (and often considered a pest) suffers all the indignities. Their history is so unique, and long, and amazing. Their loyalty and love is an honor to witness. And they may seem plain and grey but they are truly beautiful creatures. My life will never be the same thanks to Luci. This is the least I can do.


Luci & Stella


I work at a nuclear power plant as an environmental supervisor. Before that I was a commercial diver and also a recreational dive instructor. But no matter where I am or what I am doing, all my free time is spent with my beloved pets, outside or inside, painting, doodling and writing stories. I was best known for my octopus themed illustrations and art until my little pigeons stole my heart and became my models and inspiration. My dream, and I am working toward it, is to be able to dedicate myself 100% to my art. Children’s books, cards, prints, and custom helmets and motorcycle gas tanks for starters!



May 22, 2017
by Elizabeth
Comments Off on Giving4Paws Adds Palomacy as a Rescue Partner

Giving4Paws Adds Palomacy as a Rescue Partner

Guest Post by Karen Gartz, Giving4Paws

Known as an “animal nut”, I became somewhat famous 15+ years ago for running a red light in reverse trying to capture a stray dog (I was successful!) My passion for helping animals started when I lived in Los Angeles and adopted a dog.  It was then I found out that hundreds of animals were euthanized in city and county shelters. This reality is unacceptable, heartbreaking and I knew I had to do something. As a real estate agent with a somewhat flexible schedule, I became very involved in the rescue community and continued my efforts when I moved to the Bay Area in 2007.  After witnessing firsthand the profound need to reduce euthanasia rates and rehome all types of animals, all I kept wondering was…. how I can do more and raise more money to help homeless animals?  Giving4Paws was born.

Giving 4 Paws is a community service organization and nationwide network of animal loving real estate agents.  Our mission is to support, address and impact the plight of homeless animals of all kinds. Through our relationships, resources, and involvement in our respective communities, we are making a difference through volunteering, sponsoring events, and especially through substantial donations ($1000-5000) to our rescue partners from our earnings on each closed real estate transaction.

Need to find a great agent? I spend all the time necessary to get to know you and understand your real estate needs, then will connect you with the best suited real estate agent in our network that will exceed your goals and expectations. It doesn’t end there…I stay with you and offer resources and additional support through the process.

In all these years involved in rescue, I had no idea there was such a need for pigeon and dove rescue until I meet Elizabeth, learned about these amazing species, and even held one, certainly an amazing experience!

Karen meets pigeon racing survivor Blondie

Giving4Paws is thrilled to announce Palomacy has just joined us as a valued rescue partner.  You too can help support Palomacy (at no cost) by letting us know if you or someone you know needs real estate assistance, anywhere in the country! For more information, visit or contact us at 415-603-7800.

Karen & Stella




May 10, 2017
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

“But I Have Cats” – Cats, Dogs & Birds, Oh My!

Editor’s Introduction

Many birds, wild, stray and pet, are killed by cats and dogs. (Stray domestic pigeons and doves are at terrible risk from pets and predators and must be brought into safety!) There is a very real risk involved with what Palomacy calls “blended families”, homes which include birds, cats and/or dogs. We work with each family on a case by case basis to help them introduce birds to their pets and teach them how to insure their safety. (Please read How to Choose a Cage.) The birds adjust quickly and aren’t much concerned and the majority of dogs and cats settle down and accept the new family members with impressive equanimity. We have found, with 10 years of experience and more than 800 birds served, that the risk can be managed so that it is very low on the list of threats to our pet birds, provided people take responsibility for protecting the birds. With care, we have been incredibly successful in keeping our foster and adopted birds safe alongside the dogs and cats they share homes with. (We have found that the health of our birds is much more likely to be threatened by getting out/lost, injuries from other birds, cancer, reproductive disease or worms than by supervised dogs and cats.) Here are recommendations from one of Palomacy’s most expert volunteers, Jill McMurchy.

Guest Post by Jill McMurchy

Jill, Tango & Jasper having a snuggle

Often, while introducing pigeons to the public, I hear people say “I can’t have birds, I have cats (or dogs)” to which I reply, “So do I!”. They usually look surprised and ask how is that possible? It takes patience, care and common sense.

Jasper & Pudge

I’ve had dogs (at least three) and cats since I rescued my first pigeon in 2011. Not knowing I would be keeping Elinor, I introduced my dogs and cats to him slowly. Elinor was recovering from partial wing amputation when I brought him home so it was important to keep him in the house. My dogs had never been around a bird before, other than seeing them outside on our walks. I’d like to note as well that I have sight hounds, known for their deep instinct to hunt based on sight, not smell. Elinor was sequestered in a room, by himself, to quietly heal. In the few weeks he spent in the house, my dogs could smell and see him from time to time when I brought them in the room, one by one, always with Elinor safe in his cage. These were very short visits and I always praised them for ignoring him and focusing on me.

Pigeon-racing survivor Elinor recovering

It didn’t take long for my dogs to figure out Elinor was a part of the pack and, in my dogs’ eyes, quite boring. He didn’t flit around, but rather stayed in one spot and preened, looked out the window and well, didn’t do much. This is typical pigeon behavior. They are masters of the leisure arts, spending much of the day napping, preening and eating. After a couple of weeks, they saw him as a fixture in this house.

Elizabeth’s dog Monkey & foster pigeon Betti hanging out

Healing King pigeon youngster Gypsy makes herself at home in Monkey’s bed

Elizaebth’s dog Monkey, shown here with her King pigeon Frances, was a very tolerant, gentle dog (and always supervised).

Not all dogs are chill with pet birds. Liese, shown here with foster dove Legion, supervises her dog Lily carefully.

Pet pigeon Peanut & chihuahua Lily sharing their beloved Liese

Fizzy patiently waiting his turn…

Wyatt, a Love on a Leash dog, meeting foster pigeon José at an HSSV birthday party

Cats love aviaries and the birds safe inside, like Laurie’s Polka Dot shown here, find the cats more amusing than worrisome.

Marjory’s cat Annie & rescued pet pigeon Timothea have a chat

With care & supervision, birds and cats can live safely together

Pup Ruby learning about life with birds, dove Lily & parrot Tookie. (Birds can hurt one another & need to be managed carefully as well.)

In my experience, it’s important to let the other pets see the bird, smelling and getting a feel for bird behavior, the wing flapping, and the sounds ALWAYS IN A SUPERVISED AND CALM SETTING and always for short amounts of time, lengthening the exposure as time went on. I would often walk into the room with one dog at a time and focus my time and energy on something other than Elinor, then walk out – always giving the dog a treat for being calm and listening to me.  If there was any excitement, we’d exit the room, no treat and enter again. Calm behavior was what I was looking for. If this sounds labor intensive, it really isn’t. It’s 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there.  In the long run, it’s worth it.

Jill’s Chanel & Shelby sharing the shotgun seat

Foster pigeons JJ, Bug & Charlie hanging out in the sun with Elizabeth’s dog Ruby

Ruby was taught that birds are off limits but she is still never unsupervised with out-of-cage birds

Nosy pigeon Pudge creeping on Jill’s Jasper

Quiet times are especially good for hanging out together as Elizabeth, Jacob and Ruby are here.

Here are some guidelines and ideas that I think are important –

  1. It’s ALWAYS important to make the bird feel secure. A stressed-out pigeon isn’t a happy pigeon. Once pigeons know they are safe, their confidence level goes up. They know that their cage equals safety. I never let the dogs invade their space. This includes when a pigeon is out and they’ve claimed an area (usually high up) that they feel is theirs. If it’s their cage, the dog isn’t allowed to stick their head in the cage or invade that space.
  2. Supervision. Always. If I have a bird loose in the house, I don’t leave the room without the bird. Ever. I will never trust my dogs or cats 100% if left to their own devices. Instinct is instinct.
  3. Common sense. If the bird remains in a closed room and is never exposed to your other pets, it’s natural that their curiosity will make them crazy. To know a pigeon is to love a pigeon, even for dogs.
  4. Wherever your birds are housed, their enclosure needs to protect them from the animals that have access to it. If you have cats, an indoor bird’s cage needs to have narrow bar-spacing to keep paws out. Even a small nick by a cat claw can result in death to a bird. Cats and dogs carry deadly bacteria in their mouths and claws called pasturella. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of seeing a pigeon suffer a slow and excruciatingly painful death when I wasn’t told a cat caught a pigeon I had picked up at a good Samaritan’s house. Even as someone who knows how to look over a pigeon for puncture wounds, I missed one and by the time I got her to the vet she had to be euthanized. Feathers hide a lot.

Dove Carl, housed in an unsafe cage, was nearly killed by one little kitten paw reaching in. (Palomacy rescued him.)


Jill & Georgie (Photo by Elisabeth Millay)

Jill is the partner to a scientist/farmer, mother of three plus two bonus kids, caregiver and animal lover. She has rescued dogs, cats, chickens, amazing pigeons and a deer mouse named Bizzee. She’s living the dream on an acre of land in Sunol and feels absolutely blessed to have found Elinor the racing pigeon on the side of the road in 2011. He came HOME with me that day and life has never been the same. 


May 4, 2017
by Elizabeth

Fergus the Feral

Guest Post by Emily Riska

June 23rd, 2016 was a very bittersweet day at Cheat Lake Animal Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. I was working an 11-hour shift, and I started my day off terribly by finding out that the ACCA’s very first educational ambassador bird, Luna, a stunning Barn Owl, had passed away overnight. She was a diva, but boy, was she special. She loved being out on the glove in front of people, moving her cute face side to side to listen to everything going on. She was the first larger bird I felt comfortable handling, though she was still intimidating! Needless to say, we were all very devastated and solemn that summer morning.

Me with Luna at a festival

The Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia (ACCA) is a wild bird rehabilitation and conservation group that runs out of Cheat Lake Animal Hospital. The volunteers, myself included, work very hard to educate the public through various programs and presentations on how native birds are important to our ecosystem and how to conserve these species. We are licensed to give medical treatment, including euthanasia if necessary, to any bird species native to West Virginia, aside from game birds like turkey. Occasionally, raptors with non-life-threatening injuries that cannot survive in the wild will become our educational ambassador birds.
Later that day, a kind Samaritan brought us an injured feral pigeon he had found. He was very concerned about the bird’s welfare, and he even donated $100 to the ACCA when he dropped the bird off. I don’t remember how I ended up with him in my arms, but I remember just routinely walking around the clinic to find a cardboard box to stash him in until the veterinarian could assess him. I tucked him safely away and thought nothing of it…until later.

Fergus the day he arrived at the hospital

I came briskly walking around a corner, and another volunteer, Areil, quickly blurted out, “Hey, do you want a pigeon?” I stopped.
Areil was at a treatment table, holding a gas anesthesia mask over the pigeon’s head. Dr. Fallon, the ACCA’s vet, was at the next table down drawing up the “pink juice.”
“Uh, yeah. Can I do that? Legally?”
“Yep,” Dr. Fallon said, as he pushed the plunger of the syringe to replace the euthanasia solution into the bottle.
And that’s how I ended up with little Fergus. However, that isn’t the end to this story.
Since pigeons aren’t a native species, we cannot treat them or release them. On the other hand, as a non-native species, they can be legally kept as pets! Upon my adopting the pigeon, Dr. Fallon started diagnostics and treatment. Radiographs revealed a bad fracture at his “wrist,” as well as a BB pellet in his side. Someone had shot this gorgeous bird and left it to suffer and die a slow death, unless some predator came along and took advantage. My heart broke. He was a bit malnourished but otherwise in apparent good health.
A few days later, Dr. Fallon amputated half of that broken wing. It was a non-repairable fracture for sure. He lost all of his flight feathers on his left wing. He can no longer fly. The BB will remain in his side because it’s not causing any damage where it is.

Fergus after his amputation surgery

After the amputation, I took him home. He had to stay in a cat carrier for a while until I could get the cage and supplies. Poor little dude was scared to death! Here he was, missing a wing, and in a weird place full of predators! (I have a dog and two cats.) I didn’t buy anything prior to the surgery because I’m superstitious, as most veterinary personnel tend to be. He was also on two oral medications, an anti-inflammatory for pain and an antibiotic for infection, and I’m sure medicating him was just the icing on the cake.

I named him Fergus Shannon Geallach pretty quickly. Fergus is a character in the Outlander book series, a French orphan boy who was adopted by the main characters. Fitting. Geallach is Irish for “moon;” I wanted to name him in honor of sweet Luna who had passed away that fateful morning. Shannon…well, it’s Irish, but also the name of a veterinarian I used to work with who always insisted that I name my animals after her. So I did!

Happy boy!

Fast forward to almost a year later, and Fergus is living the high life. He is possibly one of the most spoiled “house pigeons” in the world. He is healthy, broody, and a diva just like his namesake. He easily shares this apartment now with his predator flock (as well as the two newest additions, the budgies). He wears a Flight Suit and leash, suns himself with me outside, and has gone to work with me! Walking around during your shift in a big veterinary hospital with a pigeon on your shoulder is pretty great for coworker and client morale alike.

Outside enjoying the nice weather

Having Fergus in my life has been a blessing. He makes me laugh, and I learn from him every day. The budgies are fun birds, but pigeons are so different! The noises they make, the dancing, the territorial behavior of the cranky boys, etc. He scares the dog and the cats. (He did the Wing-Fu on them once, they learned quickly.) Pigeons are honestly one of the best pets I can imagine, as well. They’re clean, easy to care for, and like to sit with you and watch TV. What could be better than that?

Beautiful creature

Emily Riska is a dedicated veterinary professional who has been in the industry for over 10 years. She also volunteers with the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia (, a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is “to conserve the region’s wild birds through research, education, and rehabilitation.” She is passionate about advocating for pigeons whenever and wherever possible after welcoming Fergus, an injured feral Rock Pigeon, into her home. Fergus even has his own Instagram, @fergus_the_feral. Emily is an avid amateur birder, an outdoors enthusiast, and an aunt to three amazing nephews.


April 25, 2017
by Elizabeth
Comments Off on Saving Shmuel the Handsome West of England Tumbler

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. 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.


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