March 30, 2016
by Elizabeth
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On Writing The Pigeon Man

Guest post by Joel Edward Stein, author of The Pigeon Man

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00088]

Pigeons, by and large, have been misunderstood. This comes mostly from ignorance. Too many people are unaware of how amazing these birds actually are. I have heard stories of surrogate pigeon parents feeding orphaned baby birds. I have read research that investigated the intelligence of these birds and their marvelous ability to navigate hundreds of miles to find their way back home. I have heard about the strong bond they form with their human caretakers. And, of course, there are the stories about the incredible homing pigeons that saved countless lives in wars throughout history. Yet, somehow there are those who still demonize pigeons. They say, pigeons are ‘dirty and spread disease’. Research shows this to be untrue. Thus, we have the stark dualities of ignorance versus knowledge, kindness versus cruelty; both of which continually play out in human to human interaction.

There is something about pigeons; something about their ability to adapt and survive; something about their resilience; something about their courage under fire and how their gentle, docile character often attracts people who are just the opposite. Something led me to place a pigeon as a main character in my book ‘The Pigeon Man’.

The association between people and pigeon has been a long one; at times, reflecting both the best and the worst behavior in people. The cruel decimation of the Passenger Pigeon at the hands of human beings is one disgraceful example of their poorest character. While current rescue efforts throughout the country to save savagely mistreated birds displays the better and more humane side of people.

The Pigeon Man attempts to tap into both the dark side and bright side of human nature by using the pigeon as its purest example of gentleness. And the traits that characterize the pigeon also mirror and drive the other characters; Danny Simon, a young Holocaust refugee and Mike Delaney, a hardened WWII veteran.

In the story, Mike Delaney keeps a pigeon loft on the rooftop of the apartment building where he lives and works. The loft is a sanctuary for him where the gentle cooing of pigeons put him at ease and helps him to forget certain things that haunt his memory. Danny Simon lives in the same apartment building. Strangely, it is a pigeon that brings the two of them together.

Danny Simon, taken in by an aunt and uncle he never met, lost his family to the Holocaust. He must learn to adapt to a strange place with a new set of unforeseen problems. While walking home from school Danny rescues a pigeon being attacked by other birds. He sees much of himself in the pigeon and rushes to help. When he tries to take the bird home neighborhood bullies attack him. Mike Delaney sees this and intervenes. He scatters the bullies and offers to bring the pigeon to his loft. Thus begins the relationship between a young Holocaust victim, a WWII veteran, and a wounded pigeon; each, in their own way trying, to help one another heal; each with major obstacles to overcome.

The Pigeon Man rings timeless in its message of universal tolerance and understanding.

Joel Edward Stein

Note from Palomacy Director Elizabeth Young

Thank you to Joel for his appreciation of pigeons and of Palomacy! I have ordered his book and look forward to reading it. As I told Joel when I invited him to write a guest post for our blog, We pigeon people need to stick together.

The Pigeon Man is available here.

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March 16, 2016
by Elizabeth
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Commander Holly to the Rescue!

Lt Birb and Commander Holly

Commander Holly and Bluebirds

Internet sensation, Twitch TV star and superhero Commander Holly is a special friend to the birds and Palomacy every day. She helps support and promote Palomacy in all kinds of wonderful ways and today she is doing an extra special live streaming fundraising drive to help us in the GlobalGiving Bonus Match event!

Commander Holly Helps the Birbs 031616 Bonus Match

Commander Holly adopted her first pigeon, Lieutenant Birb, from Palomacy in 2014 and has since rescued 44 more. Commander Holly writes, “I would have never known about the plight of domestic pigeons if it hadn’t been for you guys! So many pigeons are abandoned, abused, and injured because people see them as just vermin or don’t understand them. Palomacy is invaluable in spreading the word about what wonderful, thoughtful, and beautiful pets these pigeons make, and encouraging kindness for all animals.”

Thank you Commander Holly and Lieutenant Birb for all of your help!

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March 14, 2016
by Elizabeth
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Rescue Group Program Assessment Volunteer Survey Results

Page 1 of Rescue Group Program Assessment

Full report below

In February, thanks to a joint project of the Humane Society of the US and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Palomacy volunteers had the opportunity to participate in the Rescue Group Program Assessment. (See the story here.)

The Rescue Group Program Assessment (RGPA) is designed to help rescue groups run more effectively by surveying volunteers and making specific recommendations to improve the rescue based on the anonymous survey results. Feedback from this survey will be used to identify both core strengths and areas that we will target for improvement. Our goal is to use the voices of our volunteers to directly improve volunteer experiences and the overall effectiveness of the rescue group. 

 

Clare, shown with Violet, is our Palomacy Leadership Team Chair

Clare is our Palomacy Leadership Team Chair

On March 8th, I had a phone conference with our liaison, Jessie Lynn Olien, a doctoral student in the Organizational Science program at UNCC, and I am thrilled (and a little surprised) by how “healthy & highly functioning” the assessment indicates Palomacy is. Jessie said that we received some of the highest satisfaction scores she’s seen. Yay!!!

And there is consensus on ways that we can improve via “Greater participation of volunteers in rescue group leadership, decision-making, and information sharing.”

I have attached the full summary report as well as the findings report provided for us by Jessie through her work with the Organizational Science department of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNCC) and in partnership with The HSUS and pasted key excerpts below.

It will take time and volunteer involvement to apply and benefit from these findings.

Speaking of which, I’m very happy to say that Jessie is going to stay connected with us as a volunteer! She has lots of experience, expertise & information that can help us to thrive.

Cheryl was MVP for this tricky aviary assembly!

Cheryl was MVP for this tricky aviary assembly!

Rescue Program Strengths

OVERALL 

Healthy and high-functioning rescue group, that has a strong mission/vision and is comprised of committed, dedicated, and passionate volunteers. 

  • “[Palomacy] can not to any better because the already exceed in every aspect of caring and loving their birds.” 
  • “Profound dedication to the health and welfare of the birds.”
  • “We have a strong sense of communication. Everyone truly cares about these birds. We are persistent.”
  • “Genuine and dedicated; friendly; always go the extra mile.”
  • “Lovely people — truly a joy to work with others in the group.”

Knowledgeable and effective leadership that offers volunteers warmth, encouragement, and support. 

  • “The director is extremely passionate about what they do and they focus on educating the public which I think is extremely important to get the word out.”
  • “Palomacy has an amazing, inspiring & heartwarming leader.”
  • [Paraphrased] “Elizabeth is the strength of the organization. She is extremely knowledgeable about pigeons/doves and is very generous about sharing information, more than any other organization I have volunteered for she makes me feel appreciated even with my small contributions”

Strongest Dimensions:

Rescue Group Effectiveness [98%] Volunteer perceive that the group is fulfilling its mission and vision, and that the group is able to generate effective solutions when problems arise.

Recognition [Percent Favorable: 93%] Volunteers feel that their contributions are valued and appreciated.

Satisfaction with Communication [Percent Favorable: 91%] Volunteers feel that they know what is going on in the organization, that the rescue group goals are clear to them, and that the organization effectively communicates information to them.

Areas for Rescue Group Improvement

OVERALL

Greater participation of volunteers in rescue group leadership, decision-making, and information sharing. 

  • “Too much work is carried by the director.”
  • “Not many volunteers are in leadership positions, creating a communication and decision bottleneck at the top.”
  • “Overworked leaders.”
  • “We need some volunteers who will really commit to sharing more of the organizational responsibility.”

Increasing recruitment efforts to grow volunteer program, and to have “more hands on deck” to assist with tasks and distribute the workload.  

  • “Lack of volunteers. (Though we have some many great ones.)”
  • “Small organization which has to cover a lot of ground.”
  • “Always in need of more people willing to foster birds and accessibility to affordable aviary options.”
  • “Facing so much more need than we have resources to meet.”

Weakest Dimensions:

Perception of Voice [70%] Volunteers perceived that the rescue group could improve the opportunities that volunteers have to share and express ideas and concerns and participate in decision making.

Role Ambiguity [79%] Volunteers expressed that clarity around their volunteer assignments and responsibilities could be improved.

Satisfaction with Volunteer Coordination [78%] Volunteers reported that the coordination of their efforts, information sharing around who to direct their questions to, and the distribution of tasks and responsibilities could be improved.

Suggestions for Improvement

#1: Increasing the number of volunteers who are active in leadership roles, and participate in decision-making and information sharing, has the potential to: 

  1. Increase perception of voice by allowing volunteers to actively share their insights, suggestions, and feedback
  2. Distribute workload so that the effectiveness of coordination efforts can be improved
  3. Decrease ambiguity around how task expectations and volunteer responsibilities

Increasing volunteer participation in these activities could be accomplished through:

  • “Task Teams”: Groups of volunteers that work to solve a specific problem or accomplish a specific goal, and disband after this problem is solved or goal is accomplished.
  • Additional Directorship and/or Coordinator Positions: Where volunteers can take on the responsibility of directing or coordinating specific sets of activities to improve rescue group coordination (i.e., Recruitment Director/Coordinator, Events Director/Coordinator, Adoptions Director/Coordinator, Outreach Director/Coordinator, etc.) for a pre-determined length of time.
  • Regular Volunteer Meetings: where volunteers can come together (either in person or virtually) to address current or ongoing problems and voice their their insights, suggestions, etc. For example, at these meetings a “three questions/comments” policy can be implemented – where a specific number of questions/comments must be asked/stated to close the meeting to encourage information sharing.
  • Providing an online “Suggestion Box”: where volunteers can easily submit suggestions/ideas/etc. for consideration.

#2: Growing the volunteer program through increased recruitment efforts has the potential to: 

  1.  Allow Palomacy to assist a greater number of pigeons and doves by having “more hands on deck” and decrease the workload of current volunteers and leaders.
  2. Provide greater latitude for “backup” or “substitute volunteers” to help ensure that volunteers tasks can be completed.

Recruitment efforts could potentially be increased by:

  • Updating volunteer “job” descriptions: that include specific duties and desirable volunteer skill sets that can be disturbed to potential volunteers and used to evaluate the positions new volunteers would be best suited for.
  • Soliciting support from current volunteers: in helping to manage and oversee recruitment efforts, and actively recruit potential volunteers through word-of-mouth, existing social networks, etc.
  • Partnering with local/regional pet stores, veterinary practices, existing outreach groups, etc. that cater to or specialize in birds: working to gain their help in distributing recruitment fliers, both in person and/or through their existing listservs, twitter/facebook, other social media, etc. While ambitious, down the line perhaps even attempting to advertise and hold educational workshops [or ongoing volunteer training workshops] at these locations that are 1) open to the public [to draw in people who may be interested in volunteering) and 2) where, at the end of the workshop, Palomacy’s mission can be discussed and volunteer information can be distributed to attendees who are not already members of Palomacy.

Looking forward to your help & input as we move forward!

Download the full report

Download the findings & recommendations

Our volunteers save birds' lives

Our volunteers save birds’ lives

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March 14, 2016
by Elizabeth
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In the Friend Zone: Life after Oviductectomy

Guest Post & Photos by Zoe Martell

Zoe & Banano

Zoe & Banano

As the bird health care coordinator for Palomacy, I often receive calls for help when something is awry with one of the many rescues in our volunteer network; this is how I first met Banano, a tame roller pigeon that had recently joined our network of rescued birds.  Banano came into Palomacy’s care in October of 2015, when she was surrendered by the very loving woman who had cared for her for six years after finding her on the street.  Banano was named by her rescuer’s son, then a toddler, who thought she resembled a banana and the name stuck.  Banano was placed with a very loving Palomacy foster volunteer, Debbie, who quickly realized that something wasn’t right.  Banano had arrived thin, wasn’t eating and was losing weight she didn’t have to spare.  We figured the stress of moving might be part of it but I was asked to take her into my care to assess and support her.

Banano 101315

Banano 10/13/15

Banano was thin and frail when I picked her up from Debbie.  She’s a small bird and had dropped weight quickly after she stopped eating.  I used my most sophisticated diagnostic tool – my nose – to examine some droppings, and was alerted to the likelihood of a bacterial infection.  In addition to her droppings having a pungent smell, they were runny, and she was perching with her back hunched up.  All of these signs pointed to a likely gastrointestinal or reproductive problem.  I conferred with our director, Elizabeth, as to what our next steps should be.  As a nonprofit agency, Palomacy is always stretched for funds, but we are dedicated to providing medical care to the birds that we rescue.  Banano was so frail and depressed, however, we worried that she wouldn’t survive being hospitalized without some nurturing and stabilization first, so we made the decision to first treat with a broad-spectrum antibiotic and supportive care. (See River’s Flow to understand more about the impact of emotional support on a pigeon’s well being.)

I placed her on heat, and began tube feeding her and administering antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain medication.  Thankfully, she responded to this treatment, and began to gain weight and become stronger.  She is a sweet, tame bird who greatly enjoys human contact.  She is also very much a hen, and almost immediately she set her sights on winning over my partner, Chuck, as her new mate.  She couldn’t get enough of his attention, wanting to cuddle with him every opportunity she had!

Banano loves Chuck!

Banano loves Chuck!

After several days on antibiotics, she appeared much healthier, and began flying for the first time since coming into Palomacy’s care.  As she perched on my hand, she passed a large mass that didn’t appear to be a normal dropping, after which she immediately seemed much less uncomfortable.  I examined the mass, and discovered that it was many layers of thin membrane forming a ball that appeared to have a blood supply – I knew that this was most likely old egg material, and that there was likely more where that had come from.   Her history revealed that she had laid eggs years before, but had stopped.  I hoped for the best, but knew we’d likely need a vet visit in the near future.  Occasionally, reproductive problems resolve with a single course of antibiotics, but often when a hen passes old egg material, it signals a larger problem.  After passing the mass, Banano immediately stopped hunching her back, and began eating on her own.  We agreed to watch and see what developed next.  I exchanged messages with Lisa, the kind woman who had cared for Banano for 6 years, and learned that she had gone through periods of illness in the past, and had been treated with antibiotics before for similar behavior, though her vet had not reached a diagnosis for what was ailing her.  After hearing this, I further suspected that we might be looking at something more complicated than a simple bacterial infection.

Zoe & Banano 11/20/15

Zoe & Banano 11/20/15

Banano recovered over the next few weeks, gaining weight and strength, and doing her best to steal my partner away as her new mate.  She cooed to him, she circled and dragged her tail, she flipped her little wing-tips alluringly.  He often bowed to her in greeting as he walked by her cage, and she became frenzied with excitement whenever he entered the room.

In January of 2016, I noticed that Banano was hunching up again, and that she was once again losing weight.  It was time for a vet visit. We took Banano to the wonderful team at Medical Center for Birds.  After an exam and radiological imaging, it was clear that there was a mass in Banano’s abdomen.  Her intestinal tract was displaced to the side by something that appeared to be reproductive in nature. She was stable enough and had enough body fat that our veterinary team decided that she was a good candidate for surgery, and she was hospitalized in preparation.  Fearing cancer, the veterinary team operated on her to remove the growth.

Palomacy volunteer Melne transported Banano to the vets

Palomacy volunteer Melne transported Banano to the vets

Diagnosing Banano

Diagnosing Banano

Banano weathered the surgery well, and we were all relieved that the mass in her oviduct did not appear to be cancer.  Instead, she had a build-up of old egg material, and a cystic growth in her oviduct, as well as additional bacterial growth that antibiotics alone had not been able to target.  Her entire oviduct was removed, and her abdominal cavity was cleaned out of infection and buildup.  After post-surgical observation in the hospital, she was sent home with a full course of antibiotics and pain medication.

Banano recuperating on her heated bed

Banano recuperating on her heated bed

Now, we faced a new challenge, and it is one that is all too familiar to many of us; although she had nearly a full hysterectomy and her oviduct (egg gland) had been removed, Banano would still produce hormones, and she could potentially still ovulate.  It is nearly impossible to remove the ovaries in pigeons, because they are adhered to the vena cava, which are large veins leading directly to the heart. If she ovulated, an egg yolk would form, which would need to be absorbed by the abdominal cavity.  If something went wrong, egg material might build up in her abdomen and cause further problems. We consulted with our veterinarian Dr. Brenna Fitzgerald, who advised us to allow minimal touching and affection between Banano and her selected human mate, Chuck.  In Dr. Fitzgerald’s words, Banano had now been relegated to the “friend zone.”  I also consulted with another of our volunteers, who had a hen in a similar predicament.   Friend zone it was, and I suspected Banano wouldn’t be happy about it.

I was right, and her first weeks back home were very difficult.  Despite having just had major surgery, Banano was not deterred in her quest for love, and she did her best to coax Chuck away from me and into her little heated nest bed.  She cooed, she dragged her tail, and she flicked her little wing tips frantically.  Chuck remained the perfect gentleman, talking to her in a soothing manner, but gently handing her to me every time she put on the seduction routine.  It was heartbreaking – Banano wanted his attention so badly, and he had grown so fond of her, it was nearly killing both of us to have him withhold the affection she so greatly craved.  Tame pigeons love to snuggle, but petting and cuddling are often enough to stimulate the reproductive cycle.   We allowed her to fly to his shoulder, and to land on his head, but he refrained from petting her, and refused to allow her to engage in mating behaviors such as sticking her beak between his fingers.  She became frustrated at times, and would peck at me as viciously as a tiny roller pigeon can (I tried not to laugh,) attempting to come between me and Chuck, but we persisted in our efforts, knowing that her life could depend on it.

Chuck & Banano having a talk

Chuck & Banano having a talk

Banano is now healed from surgery, and is greatly on the upswing.  She has moved out of her small, single-room-occupancy dwelling into a large multi-story pigeon condo, and she has her own lighting source as well as bird neighbors and regular housecleaning and room service.  She is housed alone, right next door to a very talkative starling, who provides company but not reproductive stimulation.  She enjoys sitting on her perch and bowing to the starling, who makes a fantastic array of chittering sounds and wing gestures in return.  Banano is allowed regular flight around our large bird room, and is allowed to visit Chuck so long as she stays in the friend zone.  She has made peace with me, and enjoys riding around on my head or shoulder when I’m going about my business.

Banano is doing great

Banano is doing great

Banano will never be able to have a real mate, because it would be too dangerous to her health to allow it.  Even a same-sex pigeon companion is out of the question, as pigeons, like people, often pair up with members of the same sex and mate. Our veterinary team determined that Banano was not a good candidate for Lupron shots or for the implants that suppress ovulation, so we will do our best to make her life happy and social while minimizing anything that could stimulate her reproductively.  We love her dearly, and we want to be sure she has adequate social interaction, while still protecting her health. Thankfully, I think we have struck a good balance, and it also seems Banano’s hormones have also calmed down to a tolerable level.  As Chuck remarked recently, “wow, Banano is acting just like a normal bird now!”  Let’s hope that continues.

Banano helping with the editing

Banano helping with the editing

Note from Palomacy Director Elizabeth Young

We are all so grateful to Zoe for sharing her expert knowledge and care so generously in support of Palomacy birds (and so many others). Rescue work is always hard and Zoe takes on many of our most challenging cases. Without Zoe, Banano’s story would not have had a happy ending.

If you can, please support our rescue work with a donation.

To volunteer with us, please complete our online application.

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March 3, 2016
by Elizabeth
6 Comments

River’s Flow

River, the pigeon formerly called Crippled God

River, the pigeon formerly called Crippled God 1/17/16

On January 17th, 2016, River came to us named Crippled God. She was a wild pigeon who had been rescued a year before from a Berkeley parking lot where it is thought she had been clipped by a car as she flew by. She had lost a foot and control of her legs. In the early days after being rescued, her legs would hang down straight rather than tuck up under her in the proper position when she tried to fly. She couldn’t stand, sit or walk properly and she was terrified. In her panics, she thrashed her feathers and eventually couldn’t fly anymore either.

Usually injured or disabled pigeons adjust incredibly well to their new circumstances but River did not. Though she was in a safe setting with happy rescued birds around her and all her physical needs met, she never relaxed. She huddled by herself in a corner, sometimes staying all day with her head hidden in her blanket. Because she was so terribly frightened, she was left alone.

Crippled God, stayed this way for a year, locked in fear

Crippled God, stayed this way for a year, locked in fear

I’ve cared for other stressed and scared birds before but never one like this. Even when she was perfectly safe, she was always on the verge of panic.  She was more disabled by her anxiety than by her physical limitations. I thought of her as a PTSD patient.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

From the National Institute of Mental Health

I rarely change the names of the birds we take in but I needed a way to begin to connect with her and the name Crippled God felt more like a barrier than an entry way. I renamed her River and hoped it would help her find her resilience, her strength and flow.

The beginning of progress

The beginning of progress

Though River didn’t invite it, I knew she needed friendship. She had been alone in a crowd for a year, with no close connection or bond with anyone. Pigeons are incredibly emotional and loving birds. They hatch as twins and snuggle constantly with their sibling and then, when fledged and sexually mature a couple of months later, mate for life. (Please see Shimmy & Dallas- A Pigeon Love Story for more on the importance of love to pigeons.) I hated scaring her when I picked her up to be held and soothed but she desperately needed a social and emotional connection. She needed to know that she was safe and loved. (She’d already been left alone with other special needs birds for a year and that hadn’t worked.) Once in my hands, she’d gradually relax just a little. She’d flinch at any sound or movement but then relax a little again. If I set her down on the rug, she would scuttle wing walking as fast as she could towards any possible hiding place. She was afraid of open spaces- she had PTSD and agoraphobia too.

We made slow progress though and I was thrilled when she would eat safflower seeds out of my hand. She didn’t trust me and she ate them super fast and furtively, but it was a big step forward for us. I knew we were heading in the right direction.

River's love therapy

River’s love therapy

I kept River’s life very routine and sheltered for the first couple of weeks. Seeing how everything terrified her, I held off going to the vet or to see our most expert pigeon whisperers, volunteers who are exceptionally good at connecting with birds. River spent her days in her cage in the special needs bird room. She was more comfortable and didn’t hide as long as she was in her space. Every evening, I’d hold her close, rub her ears, scritch her feathers and feed her safflower seed treats. It was very therapeutic for both of us.

River using her legs a bit

River using her legs a bit

River time

River time

On January 31st, I took River outside for a visit to my aviary. I wondered if she might feel better outdoors. If she did, it was negated by her agitation at not being able to stand, hop or walk. She was very awkward and that made her nervous. I put her in a nice, soft patch of grass and she felt better sitting there, mostly hidden, while I worked close by, protecting her from overcurious pigeons.

Where's River?

Where’s River?

River in the grass

River in the grass

By mid-February, I moved River into a bigger cage that provided more choices for where she could spend her time. Her posture was better- more consistently normal, less tipped and awkward. I was always happy when I would check on her and find her using a different bumper to lean on or sitting in the sun looking out the window or self-sequestered in her nest box hideaway.

River in her bigger, better cage

River in her bigger, better cage

River chose different hang outs at different times

River chose different hang outs at different times

Fresh from a bath

Fresh from a bath

We kept up our routine and River was gradually becoming less fearful and more content. She still couldn’t stand or walk but sometimes she would hold my finger with her little foot while we sat together in the evening. And melt my heart.

River needed a friend

River needed a friend

On February 25th, I checked on River in the morning and was happy to see her sitting in a new spot in her cage. When I checked on her a couple hours later, I was stricken to discover that she was there because the poor dear had gotten her wing stuck between the horizontal bars. She had badly bruised and abraded her wing, both on top and underneath, trying unsuccessfully to untangle herself.

Blood marks where River got her wing stuck

Blood marks where River got her wing stuck

I got her out and soothed her and expected a big set back but for that day she seemed fine. The next morning though, I found her burrowed into the folds of her fleece. She hid in there the whole day.

River sought comfort in the folds of her fleece

River sought comfort in the folds of her fleece

River hid the whole day

River hid the whole day

On February 27th, I drove her to see our vets at Medical Center for Birds in Oakley. It was there that I could see, even after the terrible setback of getting stuck and hurting her wing, how much progress she had made, how much of her natural self-confidence was starting to come back. She did great! She was, as pigeon rescuer Dan says, “Getting her bird back”.

Dr. Brenna Fitzgerald examines River

Dr. Brenna Fitzgerald examines River

River's heart is strong

River’s heart is strong

Dr. Bianca Murphy assesses River

Dr. Bianca Murphy assesses River

The doctors prescribed Meloxicam for her bruised and swollen wing. They could find nothing that would explain why River can’t stand on one leg as pigeons missing a foot typically do. The problem seems to be more in her head than in her body. Her asymmetry throws off her balance which upsets her, which escalates into panic. Now that she is less terrified, it seems that her functionality can improve. And the doctors think that she may be a candidate for a 3-D printed prosthetic foot! (This possibility is being explored.)

With help, River takes a stand

With help, River takes a stand

From Medical Center for Birds, we went to River’s new foster home with Palomacy volunteer Jill where I knew she could more fully recover. And River is a new bird. She’s already made huge progress since she arrived! Jill is truly gifted in her ability to soothe and comfort and connect with birds (maybe everybody). River fell in love with Jill within minutes of being taken into her loving hands.

Jill welcomes her newest foster River

Jill welcomes her newest foster River

River & Jill becoming fast BFFs

River & Jill becoming fast BFFs

Jill says about River, “She is strong and brave, she just needs to find that in herself once again.”

Jill helps River feel happy, safe, calm & loved!

Jill helps River feel happy, safe, calm & loved!

River - finally at ease

River – finally at ease

Jill helping River with her sitting therapy

Jill helping River with her sitting therapy

Jill giving River her stand up therapy

Jill giving River her stand up therapy

Jill has a special needs King pigeon hen named Tango whose tangled legs make make walking nearly impossible. She lives a queenly indoor life with lots of love and spoiling from Jill and our hope is that gentle Tango & River might become friends and further enrich each others’ lives.

Her Royal Majesty Tango

Her Royal Majesty Tango

Tango is full of grace

Tango is full of grace

Tango & River's first get together

Tango & River’s first get together

And here’s River today, March 3rd, feeling so much peace and calm and love with Jill. River needs this emotional healing to facilitate her functional healing. Love is strong. 

Extra special thanks to amazing miracle worker Jill! She has many gifts and we are so grateful that she shares them so generously with Palomacy.

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February 29, 2016
by Elizabeth
5 Comments

Shimmy & Dallas- A Pigeon Love Story

When you next see a pigeon foraging for crumbs on the sidewalk, please know that most likely you are seeing another pigeon’s beloved, another pigeon’s Shimmy.

Shimmy & Dallas 1/25/16

Shimmy & Dallas 1/25/16

Shimmy & Dallas were two big, scruffy rescued meat pigeons who loved each other deeply. That’s not unusual. Mated pigeons have incredibly strong, emotional relationships. When Shimmy’s health began to decline (he had congestive heart failure), I brought them in from my foster aviary to my special needs bird room and was privileged to see every day how devoted they were. If love was a tonic, Shimmy would have been cured. Dallas did everything he could to comfort his beloved Shimmy up to his death and beyond.

At the Start

IMG_7681

Shimmy waiting to be adopted at SFACC 5/21/14

In March of 2014, someone brought their pet King/Carneau cross pigeon to the San Francisco Animal Care & Control shelter and surrendered him. They didn’t mention his name. Shelter staff named him Shimmy Shimmy CoCo Pop because, like many King pigeons, he was prone to quivering when nervous. Shimmy, big and strong as he was, quivered a lot. He was at the shelter for nine weeks when I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and brought him home to add to our already too big case load. I fostered him in my backyard aviary.

Shimmy happy to join the flock in my aviary 5/28/14

Shimmy happy to join the flock in my aviary 5/28/14

Within days of Shimmy getting out of the shelter, Dallas was brought in. He was lucky enough to survive not only being sold for meat by a live poultry market in Chinatown but also being inhumanely “released” to Washington Square Park in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. He was another King/Careau cross.

Dallas arrived at SFACC on 5/28/14

Dallas arrived at SFACC on 5/28/14

Dallas waiting at SFACC for adoption or rescue 6/12/14

Dallas waiting at SFACC for adoption or rescue 6/12/14

While we were full up, SFACC was even fuller and I was asked to take some pigeons in so as to save them from being killed for space and on 6/19/14, we took Dallas, Carlita, and sick babies Guru & Ash into our life-saving foster care.

Dallas 6/19/14

Dallas 6/19/14

The flock in my aviary (Dallas second from left, Shimmy center foreground)

The flock in my aviary (Dallas second from left, Shimmy center foreground)

Dallas was a high strung, nervous and aggressive pigeon. I call him a Type A pigeon. He didn’t enjoy people at all and for the most part, I left him home in the aviary rather than put him through the discomfort of outreach events.

Dallas queued up to bathe

Dallas queued up to bathe

Shimmy was a big, gentle bird with a sweet though shy temperament. When I brought him to outreach and humane education events, he always won the hearts of those who met him.

Pigeon Love

Despite having their having such different temperaments and the same gender, Shimmy and Dallas made a quick connection. In my aviary full of already married pigeons and lonesome bachelors, they decided to become a couple and by 7/28 were nesting together as a mated pair and sitting on the fake eggs that I provided. (Married pigeons love to nest and sit on eggs and so we provide fakes to pigeons who can’t have or keep their own eggs [so as to prevent hatching of babies]. Pigeons love having eggs to fuss over and sit on. (See Pigeon Family Values & download Hatch Prevention for more about fake eggs.)

Dallas & Shimmy- married

Dallas & Shimmy- married

Dallas and Shimmy were both King/Carneau crosses and both had heterochromia- different color eyes. Their left eyes were gold, their right eyes dark brown. Of the 700 pigeons and doves that we have rescued over the past eight years, most have had or sought opposite-sex mates. We have taken in a few same-sex couples. Billie and Alejandra came in as a mated pair of hens but they split up as soon as the bachelors in the foster flock started courting them, eventually marrying George & Sparks respectively. Big giant King pigeon Lola and his tiny Fantail pigeon Luigi came to us as a mated, same-sex couple and they stayed together, very much in love until Lola’s death. Lady pigeons Angel and Freddie met and married in our foster care. When potential adopters ask about keeping a pair of same sex pigeons as pets, I tell them that if they are both female, they will most likely bond and eventually become a mated couple. If they are both males, we have seen them sometimes bond but we have also seen some remain persistent rivals over long periods of time, never marrying.

Lola preening his husband Luigi

Lola preening his husband Luigi

Pigeon marriages are very complex and are much more of an emotional relationship than just a sexual coupling. (See Love Is Strong and Brandon Keim’s What Pigeons Teach Us About Love.) We’ve had adult, sexually mature pigeons remain single (and celibate) for months in a aviary together and then, on their own personal timeline, come together and marry as Willow & Blue did and we’ve had one pigeon, Louie, who stayed resolutely single, despite being courted, for her entire eight years with us. There was little Bean, single, who did everything like a male pigeon until one day, upon being introduced to Blanco, immediately fell in love at first sight and they became inseparable. I thought they were my gay pigeons until one day, Bean finally laid an egg and proved herself undeniably female.

Blanco & Bean

Blanco & Bean

I’ve seen the strength of pigeons’ love as they stay with a sick or dying mate. Watching strong and healthy Santino slow down to be so gentle and patient with his beloved Charlie when she was frail and weak through her long illness was inspiring. I’ve seen pigeons stay committed to their family through a mate’s absence. When Country’s mate Tank was hospitalized at the vet for nine days, she had no way to know if he would ever come home. Despite the hardship (and the flirtations from bachelors), she stayed on their nest and cared for their (fake) eggs by herself, 24/7, with only the briefest occasional break to stretch and poop. I was deeply moved by their quiet but clearly heartfelt reunion when Tank finally did come home. A year later, when Tank was suffering from untreatable cancer, I brought Country to the vet with us and she watched as he was sedated and then euthanized. Once back in the aviary, I was surprised to see that she spent a lot more time out of her nest box and hanging out with the flock. I realized in retrospect that she had been spending all her time in the nest box with Tank, comforting him through the illness I hadn’t yet recognized he had.

Frances & Country

Frances & Country

Then when Country, remarried to Frances, was herself suffering from cancer and needed to be euthanized, Frances accompanied her and was there with her to the end. If a married pigeon dies away from his mate, I always recommend that they have some time with the body so that they can know what has happened and begin to move on rather than wonder and wait. I have no doubt that they understand death. I have seen that they do.

Frances takes in the death of his beloved mate Country

Frances takes in the death of his beloved mate Country

Dallas & Shimmy were happy together fostered in my aviary for nearly two years. Dallas would get so frantic if Shimmy wasn’t there, I pretty much retired Shimmy from his outreach work, The one time I took both Dallas and Shimmy to an adoption event, Dallas threw a fit if he couldn’t see Shimmy and so we had to work with them in tandem so that Shimmy was always within sight. Dallas was an angry bird to everybody except for his beloved Shimmy. Loving Shimmy calmed Dallas. Loving Shimmy brought out the best in him.

Shimmy & Dallas in the aviary

Shimmy & Dallas in the aviary

Dallas & Shimmy

Dallas & Shimmy

Shimmy happy on their (fake) eggs

Shimmy happy on their (fake) eggs 2/4/15

Illness

Then, in late November 2015, I saw that Shimmy wasn’t feeling great. His energy grew low, he had a cough and he was losing weight.

The vets at Medical Center for Birds had never heard such terrible arrythmia as Shimmy had. They were surprised he was alive and functioning at all. Diagnostics revealed cardiomegaly- an enlarged and weakened heart and palliative care our only option.

Dr. Speer listening to Shimmy

Dr. Speer listening to Shimmy

Shimmy's vet team

Shimmy’s vet team

Shimmy's radiograph

Shimmy’s radiograph

Shimmy & Dallas moved out of the aviary and into my special needs bird room where life would be less demanding for Shimmy. He did OK at first but then was hospitalized for a few days in mid-December to get fluid retention issues under control. Dallas stayed there with him.

Shimmy & Dallas

Shimmy & Dallas

Though stoic in demeanor, pigeons are highly emotional and we have found that they greatly benefit from the comfort they receive from one another (or a loving person- see River’s story). Seeing how affected pigeon well-being is by love and comforting reminds me of the “science of love” experiments conducted by Harry Harlow in the 1950s on baby monkeys deprived of their mothers’ care. Love is powerful and important and its benefits are easy to see in pigeons.

Harlowmonkeys5

Dallas & Shimmy’s Long Goodbye

Shimmy was prescribed two diuretics and came home to fospice (foster hospice) in my bird room with Dallas ever present. It was extraordinary to watch Dallas, the pigeon I knew to be so aggressive, impatient, hostile, be so infinitely gentle and patient and loving with Shimmy. Shimmy didn’t feel well and he didn’t have the energy to be the active and responsive mate Dallas used to have. Shimmy napped mostly, snuggled by Dallas. Shimmy did eat and each evening he came out of their cage for slow walkabouts and to stretch his wings in the bird room. I watched closely for signs of suffering, for a signal that I should have him euthanized, but Shimmy did well. And he got so much love and affection from Dallas!

Dallas standing watch over his Shimmy

Dallas standing watch over his Shimmy

Dallas & Shimmy

Dallas & Shimmy 1/22/16

Dallas calling Shimmy to join him in the nest

Dallas calling Shimmy to join him in the nest

For better or worse

For better or worse

Checking in with Shimmy on 1/30/16

Checking in with Shimmy on 1/30/16

But in late January, Shimmy lost weight and grew weaker. Checking in with him on 1/30, I felt like he would need to be euthanized soon. I dreaded it for him and for Dallas. Shimmy was living for them both.

And then, very late the next night, Shimmy died in his nest box. He looked very peaceful. I was glad that he got to die at home. And I was heartbroken for Dallas. Shimmy was everything to him. Shimmy was the only thing in the whole world that Dallas loved.

Dallas guarding the body of his beloved Shimmy 2/1

Dallas guarding the body of his beloved Shimmy 2/1/16

Dallas spent the whole day bringing pine needles to Shimmy’s body in their nest box. He wasn’t trying to bury him. He was trying to love him, to please him. To stay connected. I was grateful that he had found a peaceful way to grieve. I didn’t know what I was going to do with Dallas without Shimmy. Shimmy was his focus and kept him calm. Without Shimmy, Dallas was aggressive, too aggressive to stay in the special needs bird room and even too aggressive for my aviary.

Dallas kept busy bringing pine needles to the nest all day

Dallas kept busy bringing pine needles to the nest all day

I had to take Shimmy’s body away eventually and I decided to do it that night so that Dallas would have the comfort of darkness and hopefully sleep to help him through this next terrible stage, the separation. Even knowing pigeons the way that I do, through all this rescue work with so many birds over the past eight years, what happened when I took Shimmy’s body really surprised me. And touched me deeply.

It was late for pigeons- about 9 PM and Dallas was standing there in his cage in front of Shimmy’s body. I reached in and took Shimmy out and I stood there for a minute with him in my outstretched hands. Dallas’ eyes followed Shimmy’s body and then he cocked his head and looked me square in the eyes. He looked me in the eyes so directly, so openly, so fully. He gave me a chill with the intensity of his look. Then he glanced back at Shimmy before once again looking me in the eyes. His second look was just as powerful as the first and I stood there in awe of him. That moment we shared was one of the most powerful I’ve ever had. I don’t know what Dallas was thinking. I don’t know what Dallas’ looking so directly into my eyes meant but it felt like understanding. It felt like recognition. We knew together that Shimmy was gone forever. I turned out the lights and left Dallas alone to his grief, my heart breaking for him.

Life After Shimmy

I woke up very worried about what Dallas was going to be like alone. He seemed steady and full of energy. I brought him in my office to hang out with me thinking the novelty might help distract him and that my company was better than none. I was still trying to figure out a long-term plan for Dallas without Shimmy.

Dallas hanging out in my office

Dallas hanging out in my office

Pigeons are very social and emotional and tolerant but when they have to be confined in aviaries or rooms as our rescued domestic pigeons do, (birds that are unreleasable, created by artifical selection and bred to be exploited but with no place in the natural world) they have to be matched up in ways that work for all involved and I couldn’t have Dallas inside beating up old man Jacob and arthritic Freddie nor outside in the aviary attacking Fleetwood, Mick, Walter, et al. I call this fitting together of pigeons ‘Pigeon Tetris’. We have to find combinations of birds, enclosures and people that work for all the birds’ various needs.

And I had a stroke of Pigeon Tetris genius when I thought of Noodles. Noodles was a single bird, very enigmatic and aloof. She had been thought to be a hen and seemed to pair up with a widowed pigeon but not really. She didn’t reciprocate any of his affection. She was so distant that we began to believe she was male and so we introduced another lady pigeon to the widower and Noodles was transferred to my aviary.

Noodles was a loner and had shown no interest in any of the birds in my aviary. My bachelor birds ignored her making me even more convinced that she must be male. The only connection I’d seen her make was when she developed an almost instant rapport with outreach volunteer Natalie at the Bay Area Pet Expo. She was tense and uncomfortable working as an ambassador until Natalie held her and then she immediately relaxed and did a great job all day (returning to her solitary ways back in the aviary when the event was over).

Natalie & Noodles, fast friends

Natalie & Noodles, fast friends

In any case, it occured to me that perhaps aloof and androgynous Noodles might somehow hit it off with Dallas.

And it worked. It was a little bit of a miracle. She had ignored all the birds outside and she ignored big Freckles when he rushed to greet her in the bird room but she was drawn to Dallas! And he to her.

They became friends first. No romance, just spending time close to one another. Dallas was focused and peaceful and patient, content to be near Noodles. And Noodles was definitely drawn to him. They weren’t sexual but they were intimate. Having Noodles to befriend made all the difference for Dallas. He was again his best self. With Noodles, he was attentive, calm. I’ll always be grateful to Noodles for helping Dallas (and me) through his grief.

Dallas & Noodles keeping company

Dallas & Noodles keeping company

Dallas & Noodles saying, Leave us alone

Dallas & Noodles saying, Leave us alone

Their bond continued to develop slowly. They didn’t mate (and become officially pigeon-married) for 10 days.

Dating but not yet married

Dating but not yet married

We are all so incredibly happy for Dallas! He was so devoted and loyal to Shimmy, so faithful till the very end and beyond. And Noodles and Dallas are perfect for each other. They are now being fostered in our aviary at Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda.

Noodles warmly welcomed to Ploughshares aviary by volunteer Debbie

Noodles warmly welcomed to Ploughshares aviary by volunteer Debbie

Newlyweds Noodles & Dallas in their nest box

Newlyweds Noodles & Dallas in their nest box

Noodles and Dallas are doing great. Their love is strong. When you next see a pigeon foraging for crumbs on the sidewalk, please know that most likely you are seeing another pigeon’s beloved, another pigeon’s Shimmy.

Dallas & Noodles are available for adoption.

Donate to support our rescue work.

Thank you for your support. Thank you for being a friend to pigeons.

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February 9, 2016
by Elizabeth
3 Comments

Rescuers Helping Rescuers

Dan & his Freddy Girl

Dan & his Freddy Girl

When I first started helping pigeons eight years ago, I got help from other a couple of rescuers. One, Dan, became a mentor and he helped and taught me a lot. He’d started rescuing pigeons a few years earlier and was the best friend a pigeon could hope to have. He has many incredible rescue stories to tell.

Heartbreakingly, Dan’s financial situation collapsed and rather than buying a place to create a sanctuary as he had hoped, in January, he found himself having to leave his no longer affordable Bay Area rental and find safe places for his flock of 108 rescued birds to land.

Dan's aviary full of rescued pigeons

Dan’s aviary full of rescued pigeons

Anybody who helps pigeons is pretty nearly always full up. Palomacy was too full… it was a daunting challenge. Amazingly, with big help from some very kind friends of Palomacy, we were able to find a place for every bird to go. On the evening of January 17th, I helped Dan catch and pack up his birds for their 1,400 mile trip (one way) to new homes in Arizona and New Mexico.

Dan Kuklo emptied aviary 011616

Dan’s emptied aviary

Carie in Phoenix took in all of Dan's strongest pigeons

Carie in Phoenix took in the majority of Dan’s flock

Bonnie in Flagstaff took in 8 of Dan's most special needs pigeons

Bonnie in Flagstaff took in 7 of Dan’s most special needs pigeons

Sue in Las Cruces took in a bunch of Dan's senior citizen birds

Sue in Las Cruces took in 13 pigeons and 2 doves

Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary took in three special needs King pigeons (including Luna who Dan adopted from us in 2008)

Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary took in three special needs King pigeons (including Luna who Dan adopted from us in 2008)

I brought home four special needs birds- Triple, Freddy & Cathy and River to foster within Palomacy.

Triple died in surgery 1/20/16

Triple died in surgery 1/20/16

Special pigeon Freddy & her wife Ringneck dove Cathy

We’re fostering special pigeon Freddy & her wife Ringneck dove Cathy & hope to return them to Dan

River lost half a leg (we think she was hit by a car) and is struggling to adjust

River lost half a leg (we think she was hit by a car) and is struggling to adjust

Dan is devastated by the loss of his bird family, by not being able to rescue birds, by the loss of his dream of creating a sanctuary. He worked heroically through the pain and depression and grief to get everybody where they needed to go. The Bay Area has lost an epic rescuer. Dan has landed safely in a little rental in beautiful Port Angeles, WA. Dan’s down but not out. He’s walking shelter dogs and planning for how he can get back to the life-saving work he loves.

Dan's view

Dan’s view

To Carie, Bonnie, Sue, Christine & Ellie- thank you so very much for opening your hearts and homes to save Dan’s birds. You saved Dan too.

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February 8, 2016
by Elizabeth
5 Comments

Little Bell’s Big News!

Guest Post & Photos by Jill McMurchy

Bell 082715 by Jill

Guess what? Our sweet, special little Ringneck dove Bell isn’t a girl! He’s a boy! (You can see Bell’s rescue story here.) Thank you to Palomacy volunteer Joe “Dove Daddy” Knight for questioning the (incorrect) assumption that we had been working under for so long. Based on the shape of Bell’s pelvic girdle, he recognized what we hadn’t, and then confirmed it by donating a DNA gender test. Bell is a male dove.

Bell says, C'mon you guys!

Bell says, C’mon you guys!

Knowing this helped us realize that the tension in his relationship with Reed, his longtime companion (and most likely his brother), wasn’t due only to Bell’s health problems, but rather also stemmed from them remaining rivals rather than becoming mates. (Same sex pairs of doves do sometimes bond and become very devoted mates but not always and, if not, their relationship can be frustrating.) We decided to try separating them and introducing them to female doves so that they could each develop the bond they had been seeking for so long.

Reed & Bell

Reed & Bell- never a bromance

Often we have a waiting list for single female doves but we were fortunate this time. We have a flock of doves we call the Dove Beans, being fostered for us by Andy’s (Rescue) Pet Shop in San Jose. They were surrendered as a nameless flock and so needing seven names in a hurry, I named them all after beans- Azuki, Lima, Turtle, Pinto, Butterbean, Chickpea and Fava. We knew there were some single females in this flock and were hopeful we could find loving wives for both Bell and Reed.

Our Dove Bean flock fostered at Andy's

Our Dove Bean flock fostered at Andy’s

Bell’s lingering neurological issue means he needs a special, quiet home and a gentle mate. I’d keep him fostered with me but healthy Reed would most likely be thrilled to join the Dove Bean flock and enjoy aviary life so I took him to Andy’s. The day I brought him, I sat and observed the flock, trying to figure out who would be a possible bride for Bell.

My eyes kept wandering over to Fava, a very delicate, wild-type colored hen. She seemed shy and sweet and I just had a feeling she was the one so I brought Fava home with me.

I kept her in a separate cage for two days so she could get used to Bell’s body movements. The torticollis causes him to twist and sometimes fall backward, but he rights himself pretty quickly now. She didn’t seem put off! I also watched for Bell’s interest in her as a bride. He went right to work trying to impress her! His sweet little broken coo was getting stronger and stronger and at times I thought he’d hurt himself with his very enthusiastic bow-cooing!

Bell cooing his love to Fava

Bell cooing his love to Fava

I put Fava in his cage (it was important that Bell stay in his own cage, he’s familiar with it and can show it off to her and is specially equipped for giving him comfort) and Bell went to town trying to impress. It didn’t take him long to make her realize he was ‘the one’!

Bell & Reed sharing a meal

Making friends… Bell & Reed share a meal

 

Fava & Bell

Fava & Bell falling in love

So let’s all give Bell and Fava Bean a big round of applause and a hearty congratulations!

Fava & Bell

Fava & Bell are married

And there’s more great news for Bell & Fava: As of January 25th, they are home! I adopted them! Fava laid an egg for them on January 26 and Bell has been happily sharing egg-sitting duty with Fava. He is quite the devoted husband and nest builder! And funny thing, ‘Bell’ is a kind of bean too!

We’re keeping a close eye on dear Reed as well. He is living with the Dove Bean flock fostered at Andy’s and, while he isn’t yet married, we are hopeful that he will win a mate soon and that they will be as happy together as Bell & Fava are.

Reed making new friends

Reed making new friends

 

Note from Elizabeth Young, director of Palomacy

This was such a simple and yet incredibly important breakthrough for Bell and Reed! When I first brought Bell and Reed into our foster care over two years ago, I thought that Bell was female and that Reed was male and that they were a mated pair. Why I never questioned this assumption along the way, I’ll never know. It makes perfect sense in hindsight. I’m so grateful to our volunteer Joe for examining Bell and helping us to correct this error and to better provide for both his and Reed’s needs. Having a loving mate (rather than vying with a companionable rival) has been so good for Bell! He’s blossoming and while he is still challenged with neurological issues, he is a happier and more content dove. One of my favorite sayings is: No one of us is as smart as all of us. Thank goodness for the power of collective intelligence.

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February 3, 2016
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Surveying Volunteers via Rescue Group Program Assessment

Foster family Kay & Claire

Our foster volunteers save the lives of birds who otherwise would have no place to go

People usually assume that Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions has a place, a shelter or sanctuary, from which to do our life-saving, culture-changing work but we don’t. We depend on volunteers to foster birds in their homes and backyard aviaries and at a couple of partner sites to do this work. And we depend on volunteers to help respond to the urgent calls from finders and shelters about birds in need. We depend on volunteers to promote and publicize and inspire adoptions and support for these amazing birds.  We depend on volunteers to coach potential adopters, to produce events, to fundraise, aviary-build, cage-transport, rush birds to vets, and so much more!

Volunteer Team launching our Ploughshares Nursery Aviary

Volunteer Team launches Ploughshares Nursery Aviary

Volunteer ambassador Natalie with Noodles

Volunteer ambassador Natalie & Noodles

Volunteers Faye & Liese support our Lobby Pigeon project at HSSV

Volunteers support our Lobby Pigeon project at HSSV

Our volunteers are the heart and soul of Palomacy and so I was excited when I saw an incredible offer from the Humane Society of the US and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte to apply to participate in their free Rescue Group Program Assessment to survey our volunteers and provide concrete steps to improve organizational effectiveness.

Rescue Group Program Assessment

Now, our volunteer survey is up and available to complete until Thursday, February 14th. We need your input to do this important work to the best of our abilities. Please- if you are a current or past volunteer for Palomacy, take a few minutes to complete the survey. This is a really great opportunity for Palomacy and your voice is critical!

Dear Palomacy Supporters,

We are really interested in gaining feedback regarding our volunteers’ experience with us. Your time and energy are precious resources and we want to ensure that together we are all able to best help the birds and people counting on us.

I’m very happy to tell you that we applied and have been chosen to receive a “free assessment designed to help rescue groups run more effectively by surveying volunteers and making specific recommendations to improve the volunteer program based on the anonymous survey results. The Rescue Group Program Assessment (RGPA) was created by the Organizational Science department of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNCC) in partnership with The HSUS. The survey addresses organizational commitment, volunteer recognition, communication, competence, role ambiguity, work satisfaction, satisfaction with other volunteers, organizational constraints and burnout.” (You can read more about it here.)

To that end, I would like to ask all supporters who are 1) currently volunteering for our organization, or 2) have volunteered in the past, to complete an online survey.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has donated their time to create and then analyze the survey data collected. I believe this will be very helpful to us.

Participation in this survey is entirely voluntary and all your answers will be kept anonymous.

Your voice, opinions, and beliefs are very important to our effectiveness and for making positive change. Below is the link from the research team at UNC Charlotte. The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete at most and will be open until February 14th. Should you have any questions about the survey, please contact the UNC Charlotte research team at volprogram@uncc.edu

Once the survey responses have been submitted and analyzed, the RGPA team generates a report, helps interpret the results, and assists in building a plan to improve our volunteer operations. The Humane Society of the US provides the RGPA to rescue groups at no cost.

Thank you for your service to Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions. I do hope you’ll participate in this process to improve our organization and the work that we do together.

Survey Link: Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions RGPA Survey

Thank you very much! The birds are counting on us.

 

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King pigeons at SFACC

Pigeons in shelters need help getting adopted

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January 1, 2016
by Elizabeth
0 comments

Palomacy 2015 Year in Review

Palomacy 2015 Year in Review Thumbnail
With your help, we accomplished so much this past year! The concept of Palomacy- pigeon diplomacy- is being embraced and put into action all over. Palomacy is more than the name of a rescue, it is a movement. We’ve engaged new partners in support of pigeon rescue; we’ve built beautiful, safe aviaries for birds who otherwise would have no place to be. Our ever-strengthening presence on social media is helping to bring together pigeon and dove lovers from all over the world. Together, we saved hundreds of birds in 2015 and we are better positioned than ever to make a unique difference in 2016. Thank you for helping us to inspire compassion and save lives. I’ve put together a slideshow review of Palomacy in 2015. Check it out. You’ll be amazed to see all that you helped make happen (and this is only a fraction of what we did)!

Thank you for being part of our life-saving, culture-changing community!

Wishing you a very happy, healthy, peaceful and compassionate new year.

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