July 20, 2016
by Elizabeth
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“$1 for Gimpy” (Bjork’s Story)

Crippled pigeon offered for sale on craigslist for $1

This is the craigslist ad that saved Bjork

On July 4th, I received an email from Cindy, a pigeon lover who regularly flags prohibited ads selling animals on craigslist. She had come across this ad seeking to find a home for a crippled pigeon youngster before she was “put down”. It hit me hard. We cannot keep up with all the rescue requests we get. We’re overfull with more birds than we have homes for and struggling to pay the bills we’ve already incurred but we had to try. I reached out to some of our volunteers in the area and, within a couple of hours, we had a plan in place for Palomacy adopter Alyx to meet the breeder and take in this little pigeon.

Safe in Palomacy's care

Safe in Palomacy’s care

Alyx met with the breeder the next day to get the little pigeon. I was very relieved to have her in our care. Alyx texted me, “She relies on her wing a lot for balance. Her wing feathers are messed up because her wonky leg sticks through them. She moves kind of like a bat. I don’t know why I’m calling her she, I have no idea. But she seems like a Bjork to me. And so the little bird became Bjork.

 

Bjork's bad leg was splayed & rotated, her good leg swollen & infected

Bjork’s bad leg was splayed & rotated, her good leg swollen & infected

Alyx lovingly cared for Bjork for the next couple of days until handing her off to Kristi who is her long term foster volunteer and vet appointment chauffeur.

Alyx loving on Bjork

Alyx loving on Bjork


Bjork has another flap-fest after flying (awkwardly & mostly sideways) around Alyx’s apartment

Kristi and her family welcomed Bjork with loving arms. Though doing pretty well overall, Bjork’s good leg was infected, hot and swollen and we were all relieved when she arrived at Medical Center for Birds to be treated and assessed as a candidate for corrective surgery.

Bjork in Kadence' loving arms

Bjork in Kristi’s daughter Kadence’ loving arms

On Tuesday, July 19th, Dr. Speer operated on Bjork both to surgically correct her splayed and rotated bad leg as well as to clean out the deep pocket of infection built up in her good leg. The procedures went very well and she’s recuperating in the care of the amazing Medical Center for Birds team.

Bjork, post surgery on the operating table. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Bjork, post surgery on the operating table. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Plugs of pus removed from Bjork's good leg

Plugs of pus removed from Bjork’s good leg (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Bjork waking up after surgery (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Bjork waking up after surgery (Photo courtesy of Dr. Speer)

Bjork will remain hospitalized for a couple more days and then, once again, Palomacy volunteer Kristi will make the long drive to Oakley to pick up Bjork and bring her back to her foster home. We are cautiously optimistic that these surgeries will enable Bjork, for the first time, to stand upright on her feet, to walk, to be up off her belly and have a healthy, happy life.

Update from Dr. Speer 7/20/16:

This morning, Bjork looks good. The derotated left leg is still in proper position, and there is some degree of weight bearing. The right leg is less swollen, but still the more painful of the two legs. I have a scattered amount of possibly Staphylococcus species growing from inside the joint space in that right leg at present time. We have moved Bjork into a surfboard type of splint to help facilitate uniform weight bearing on both feet, and I have a light pressure wrap on the right leg now. I can easily see a few more days of tweaking and nursing care before he can go home, for sure.

We will need to inspire a lot of donations to cover Bjork’s approximately $1600 medical expenses (after generous discounts). Please, if you can, make a tax deductible donation today!

See also Sugar’s Story about a splay-legged baby pigeon left by the breeder at San Francisco Animal Care & Control.

And please, help Cindy, the pigeon lover and animal advocate who saved Bjork, to flag prohibited pigeon ads on craigslist! The people who buy and sell pigeons in quantities for cruel reasons have been meeting up through craigslist but through flagging, we can make it harder for this to happen.

Cindy writes,

Pigeon shoots are like going deer hunting in a petting zoo. I don’t approve of pigeon shoots which is why I got started flagging ads. Killing harmless little creatures should not be condoned as appropriate entertainment. Hunters could shoot stale bagels or clay pigeons instead of live birds. I also disapprove of the way some racing enthusiasts sell off unwanted birds or “cull” their birds by cutting off their heads, or just fly them in numbers only to let the nonwinning birds just suffer,  hurt and lost, many attacked by predators and unable to feed themselves when they do not return. Nor do I approve of the releases of white pigeons and doves who are lost and also suffer. Nor do I approve of businesses such as gas stations putting nets over pigeons’ young and even the parent birds and let them starve and die, trapped and afraid, because they want these wonderful animals which they consider flying rats to disappear, rather than considering putting contraceptives in their food. Or people who advertise they will come to your barn and night and shoot unwanted birds for fun with air rifles.  Pigeons are special and have a right to be here. Any way we galvanize people to can stop this cruel and callous treatment of pigeons would be great. It just takes a few minutes per day.

–Cindy

Reasons for Flagging Pigeon Ads on craigslist & How to Flag craigslist Pigeon Ads by Cindy

craigslist is a valuable resource for people seeking to rehome animals including pigeons. We have obtained three wonderful pigeons from people wanting to rehome pigeons, through craigslist, and love them dearly. Sadly, however, some disreputable people use craigslist to buy and sell pigeons for cruel, inhumane reasons. When several people flag an ad as prohibited (and buying and selling of live animals is prohibited), the ads are then removed by craigslist and people who want to harm pigeons cannot easily contact each other.

Sale of pigeons for $5 or less each predicts a bad outcome. People rehoming fancy pigeons or really trying to find pigeons a good home will charge at least $10 or specify a decent “rehoming” fee. They will describe their birds as special types or have photos of a few birds. People seeking to harm pigeons are looking usually for a lot of birds and don’t care what kind of bird they are (they will take pigeons, mallards, pheasants, quail, chukars…they aren’t picky and don’t care about them or their fate). Nefarious people look for pigeons for edible squab, use them for dog training, hunt them, kill them with air guns for fun (“sport”), or catapult truckloads of pigeons into the air by the thousands where they are shot in a “pigeon shoot.’” Just a few minutes per day by several people making a concerted effort could save the lives of a lot of poor pigeons by keeping these people from meeting up with one another. Pigeons are not safe, loved, cared for, or have quality lives when they are regarded as cheap and expendable. Flagging craigslist ads can help put a stop to these uncaring people seeking to give away, buy or sell quantities of pigeons for bad reasons.

craigslist sport dog training birds pigeons Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 12.17.48 PM

People buying and selling pigeons are in violation of craigslist rules for buying and selling live animals. Within PA, KY, TX, NJ, and OK, ads are especially suspect because PA is the only remaining state where pigeon shoots are legal (even though most people in that state –I have read as many as 80%–oppose the shoots) but in other places, the pigeon shoots still go on in secret. People place ads for large “orders” of pigeons because they are sold cheaply then often shot to death when a large quantity are obtained. Some “brokers” drive around from state to state buying cheap pigeons and collecting quantities of feral pigeons before scheduled shoots and have even netted and kidnapped pigeons from New York’s Central Park to take to PA for the pigeon shoots there. Legislation has been proposed repeatedly in PA to stop this animal cruelty but the NRA always defeats it. Pigeon shoots are criticized and are publicized thanks to PETA, SHARK, and the Humane Society of the United States but are carried out clandestinely when unscrupulous people manage to sell and buy pigeons through craigslist and various hunting magazines. Sadly people gamble on who will shoot the most… as many as 5,000 to 6,000 poor harmless birds may be killed at one shoot, with more than $50,000 reportedly changing hands. Their wings may be trimmed so they turn certain ways and are easier targets. They may be kept crammed in large numbers in tiny cages for days without food and water before they are catapulted into the air and shot by the thousands over a two day period, and as defenseless creatures, unable to escape their cruel fate.

Pigeons used for dog training generally have their wings clipped… ads say things like “get that pup ready for summer!” Dog trainers claim it doesn’t hurt the birds but think about it. The pigeons are taken from their homes and families, are terrified, even if the dogs don’t bite down on or kill them immediately (which happens). People who use pigeons for dog training tend to be those who also use pigeons, quail, pheasants and other birds for hunting and shooting the birds. They are just using the pigeons to train their dogs to retrieve the birds later, after they have been shot. Pigeons are bought and sold in quantities through craigslist ads, often ferals caught in barns with nets at night. But many birds shot in pigeon shoots also have been observed to have bands on their legs because they are domestic racers and homers who are unwanted when their owners have too many birds. The unwanted, excess pigeons and race “losers” are sold off away from their mates and young, are stolen, or are gathered up cheaply from craigslist because people who sell to pigeon shoots aren’ t picky and if they can’t buy ferals, they have written in hunting journals that homers and racers are just as useful for shooting. Anything that is a high flyer is a good target, to them. They are bought and sold essentially to be killed… are kidnapped and kept crammed  in tiny cages without food and water until they are released, shot, and blown to bits by the truckload and by the thousands, so at the end of the shoot, thousands are dead and thousands are flopping, quivering, and dying and are gathered up, in pain but alive, and dumped as trash or  just buried in trenches or a few are taken home and eaten.  There are very sad videos of pigeon shoots posted on sites by SHARK. Sometimes the unscrupulous pigeon shoot suppliers even net and kidnap pigeons from locations such as Central Park to the chagrin of those who feed, treasure and love pigeons; some of the pigeons kidnapped or purchased have had names and have been pets. Other people sadly love to train their falcons to kill pigeons; they also use craigslist to find pigeons for their hobby. Others just like to shoot pigeons with air rifles and look for people seeking to rid their barns of pigeons and offer to visit and rid the barns of the “problem” pigeons. It doesn’t just happen in the US. People in other countries such as Spain are even trying to stop pigeon cruelty too. As a civilized society, we should not allow such mistreatment to continue.

These people who buy and sell pigeons in quantities for cruel reasons have been meeting up through craigslist but through flagging, we can make it harder for this to happen if we work together.

How to Flag craigslist Pigeon Ads

It is easy and takes just a few minutes per day. Go to Google or whatever your search engine is. Type in “craigslist” but don’t put a location, so ads pop up from all around the country. It is easy and takes just a few minutes per day. Use various search terms. My starting search term when I engage in flagging is “craigslist WTB pigeons,” for example. Don’t search just in “Pets” because a lot of pigeon ads are in “Farm and Garden” or “Wanted to Buy” or “For Sale by Owner.” I just type in “craigslist” then try a variety of search terms: “WTB pigeons” (which means “wanted to buy” pigeons), “ISO pigeons” (“is seeking out” pigeons), “pigeons for dog training,” “pigeons for training,” “free pigeons,” “barn pigeons,” “feral pigeons,” “wild pigeons,” “pigeons for events,” “taking orders pigeons,” “large quantities pigeons,” “cull pigeons,” “culling pigeons,” “live pigeons,” “free pigeons,” “white pigeons for weddings and events,” “pigeons falcons,” “pigeon removal,” “pigeon extermination,” “pigeon launcher for sale,” “common pigeons,”… use your imagination). So when you type in “craigslist pigeons for dog training,” for example, a lot of entries will pop up. The next step is to skim the ads and see if they are rehoming ads or cruelty related ads. You try out your search entries, one at a time, look over the ads that pop up, flag them, use the back button, and try the next search entries until you exhaust your list of search terms. If you use the back button, you can do this very quickly. Just looking at the dollar amount in the ad will suggest to you whether the ad is a legitimate rehoming of a pet or fancy pigeon or whether the pigeon is a commodity to be exploited.

Skim the ad titles and flag the offensive ads as prohibited so the ads will be removed. Flag any ads where pigeons are “free” and people want to unload them in quantities or being sold for tiny fees such as $5.00 or less, or for dog training, squab, wedding releases, “removal” from barns, and obviously for pigeon shoots. Just flag all the obviously nefarious ads you can find, using the back button of your computer or iPad or whatever, systematically flagging ads until you exhaust that search term and move through all your regular search terms. Such ads are in violation of craigslist rules for buying and selling live animals. If the ad looks legitimate, leave it alone. Some people for example are trying to rehome fancy pigeons or pet pigeons. I do not flag those ads as I want kind, honest people to be able to rehome their pigeons. After a while, you will notice that the same ads tend to pop back up however looking for pigeons to buy and sell for bad reasons, from the same areas. The ads you have already flagged will show up as flagged because they tend to be highlighted in a different color on your browser (mine uses blue and purple). Sometimes when you click on an ad category, a location will pop up and when you click on that, you will get a whole list of entries; just type in “pigeons” if there are several ads listed and the ads you want to see (e.g., a list of “pets” might open so you type in “pigeons” so the list becomes smaller). You can then flag that are obviously by people not trying to rehome pigeons but to just profit from them and their demise. After a while, you can do this very very quickly.

I don’t flag ads that seem legitimate, e.g., people rehoming fancy pigeons or homers or even racers (e.g., fan tails being rehomed for at least $10.00.). You may also encounter people trying sincerely to rehome one or a few special needs pigeons, including situations where they have  found a lost or hurt pigeon. You can reply to their ad and suggest to the ad poster ways to find a home or to get help for the pigeons, e.g., through Pigeon Talk adoption forum or Facebook or Palomacy or other rescue groups. You can even ask a poster looking to rehome a lost or hurt pigeon if they mind if you copy the ad and post it on Pigeon Talk or elsewhere, to help them help the pigeon. Most people are good people who sincerely care about their pigeons.

Just 20 minutes per day or every few days of flagging would get the illegal ads removed and hopefully save thousands of poor pigeons, quails, mallards and chukars from a terrible fate. (People buying and selling pigeons for shoots also advertise through their ads that they are also looking for quail, mallards, pheasants and chukars because they are easy to shoot too.) We all know pigeons are loving, intelligent, sensitive  creatures who have mates and offspring, are kind parents, and deserve better than this cruel disregard. Societies are judged by how they treat their children, elderly, the disadvantaged and those who cannot advocate for themselves including harmless little animals like pigeons. craigslist provides a valuable service by helping people adopt animals in need of homes when there is an adoption/rehoming fee and people looking to rehome those animals are willing to carefully screen potential owners. If we work together, and people flag the undesirable ads as prohibited, we can keep the pigeon abusers from meeting up with each other through craigslist. Please help if you can! Thank you!

–Cindy

 

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June 13, 2016
by Elizabeth
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Sunshine- A Pigeon’s Tale of Life, Love & Beating The Odds

Guest Post by Laura Lee

Sunshine by Laura Lee 060416

Sunshine invites you to help pigeons & doves today!

Please donate to support Palomacy here now for +50% Bonus Match & more!

Sunshine first introduced himself to Palomacy during last year’s big GlobalGiving Bonus Match fundraiser. Sunshine wanted to find a way to say thank you to the kind man who rescued him. Sunshine hoped that if more people learned about pigeons, then even more birds would be rescued. And Sunshine dreamed that somehow and some way, his rescuer Bob, would know how thankful a tiny yellow squeaker was to be saved. Sunshine was rescued during an ice storm on a frigid Canadian 2014 winter morning. Bob is the reason Sunshine just celebrated his second birthday. In fact, without Bob, there would have been no Sunshine at all. Sadly, Bob passed away soon after saving the tiny yellow baby. Bob never had the chance to see the result of his rescue. Sunshine joined Palomacy’s GlobalGiving fundraiser last year to say thank you to Bob and all the other courageous, dedicated birdie lovers and rescuers. And supporters of Palomacy made Sunshine’s wish come true! (See Sunshine Makes a Difference!) Sunshine wants to continue to pay forward the love and friendship of his rescuer Bob and his wife Debbie- by once again joining Palomacy’s GlobalGiving fundraising campaign Wednesday 6/15. Sunshine hopes this year the supporters of Palomacy will continue to prove ‘one pigeon can make a difference’.

Please mark your calendar & set your alarm for 6AM PT Wed. 6/15/16!

Please set your alarm for 6AM PT Wed. 6/15! First 45 donors get a special thank you from Sunshine & friends!

A lot has happened in this last year. Sunshine took up a new hobby of collecting colourful zipties. And Sunshine celebrated a special milestone in every pidgie’s life… Sunshine fell in love. This is an unlikely love story but it follows true that the most unexpected painful trials in life can lead to beautiful things.

Sunshine Henny Penny by Laura Lee image_3

Sunshine in love

Henny Penny defied great odds of survival. She was a tiny white dove found laying in her own blood with clumps of red splattered feathers carelessly strewn about the cold, hard, and still wet-from-the-rain ground. Was she even breathing? Her legs were in that all too familiar ‘stiff’ pose. Her eyes were partially closed. There is a point at times when a bird rescue mission slips with heavy silence into the ‘just keep her comfortable’ reality. Henny Penny was clearly mauled by a predator. A helpless domesticated white dove, she had no business being outside alone and unprotected. I am ashamed to even be human at times like this. To know it is always people letting animals down. I took Henny Penny home expecting the worse but hoping for the best. Heartbreaking.

Henny Penny took up residence in my hospital room. My home has a constant din of dove cooing and canary song. And I have one pigeon. Henny Penny started to perk up when she heard the company of my other birds from her isolated hospital room. Especially one bird in particular… Over the next month, Henny Penny basked in the sun of my window sill healing more and more each day and exchanging gusty coos with the most unlikely of birds: Sunshine.

Henny Penny recovering with a friend

Henny Penny recovering with a friend

After a month, Henny Penny was ready to join my soft bird aviary of retired breeder birdies, doves with special needs and cheerful canaries. I opened the door for her to fly in herself but instead she scooted backwards, scampering into the room Sunshine calls his own. This would of been the first time Henny Penny ever saw Sunshine in person. Before that they just knew each other from exchanging coos. Henny Penny acted like she knew Sunshine and continued to scamper towards him- but I quickly whisked her away because it is too dangerous to have a super-sized pigeon around a tiny white dove.

During the week, Henny Penny managed get into Sunshine’s room three times while I was changing waters and cleaning up. After the third time I decided it was no coincidence. Henny Penny deserved some supervised visits with Sunshine. It was visably noticeable how happy Henny Penny was when she was with Sunshine. Her coos became softer and she gently preened Sunshine’s feathers.

Sunshine Henny Penny by Laura Lee image 2

Sunshine & Henny Penny, in love

I feel it was the exchanging of romantic coos behind the walls that placed the motivation in Henny Penny to fight beyond her injuries. Once Sunshine and Henny Penny met it was love at first sight from the way these two cooed and greeted each other.

Henny Penny with her Sunshine

Henny Penny with her Sunshine

Our friend Bob rescued Sunshine against all odds in 2014. Sunshine rescued Henny Penny with only a promise of love and birdie-snuggles from behind the walls in 2016. Even years after Bob rescued Sunshine, his dedication to helping birds is paying forward. And I am confident this will always continue as Palomacy’s supporters reach out to help more and more pigeons and doves. One pigeon can make a difference thanks to the tireless efforts of bird rescuers & advocates such as Bob, his wife Debbie, Elizabeth and all the many big hearted people. Sunshine sends many feathery-helicopter spins and coos to all the generous donors of Palomacy.

My flock has an active presence on Palomacy’s Facebook page. And it seems there is special birdie that has a lots of fans … Sweet Potato! Sweet Potato has a genetic condition caused by crossed genes of selected breeding. Double Fizzle, Porcupine Bird and Super Silkie are some names of the condition Sweet Potato has. I read once it was something to do with the S1 and S2 genes but I don’t know what that means. What I do know is birds like Sweet Potato are euthanized because of their appearance and by misinformed people seeing them as unhealthy or suffering. Nothing could be further than the truth. Sweet Potato was adopted into my family in 2012. He is a bundle of energy, confidence and affection. No one plays with their jingle bells like Sweet Potato!

Sweet Potato by Laura Lee image-15

Sweet Potato says Hi!

Sunshine and Henny Penny and Sweet Potato have inspired a big surprise for Palomacy supporters during their GlobalGiving Bonus Match Fundraiser this Wednesday, June 15th. We have teamed up with an actual Marvel artist! Supporters who donate while Bonus Match funds last will be entered in a raffle to win either this super portrait of super Sunshine by Marvel comic book artist Veronica O’Connell or this hand-painted plaque by artist Shane McCormack and the first 45 donors will each receive a very special Thank You from Sunshine & his friends!

Sunshine by Veronica O'Connell image-3

Sunshine by Veronica O’Connell

Sunshine Plaque Shane McCormack image-3

Sunshine by Shane McCormack

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Special Thank You postcard from Sunshine & Friends

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Sunshine worked very hard on his special Palomacy thank-coo-coo card!
It features a double sided full colour postcard of Sunshine & his friends.
The first 45 donors will receive his beautiful keepsake postcard.
Your address will be written on the tummy of a white dove!

Sunshine’s gift included all printing and postage expenses.
Donations made to Palomacy go 100% to the birds!
The artwork was created and donated by Veronica and Shane and shipping costs will be covered by Sunshine!

Sunshine took a photo of his thank-coo-coo postcard to keep everybirdie a sneak peek!

A huge round of big wing hugs to our professional artist friends for donating their time and talent to help the pigeons and doves! Sunshine has crossed international waters by having artwork created by an Irish professional photographer and artist – Shane McCormack, and Marvel professional artist Veronica O’Connell originally across the pond as well. Sunshine is proud to be the first Canadian Pigeon Palomacy Ambassador. Love of doves and pigeons knows no boundaries!

Each person who makes a Bonus Match-earning donation to Palomacy will get their name in a raffle draw! Sunshine will pick the winners!

Sunshine and his friends want to express our love and appeciation for everybirdie who supports Palomacy’s pigeon and dove rescue. This all began with our friend Bob who rescued Sunshine during a frigid Canadian ice storm in March 2014. And now even more people from all over North America and beyond are celebrating their love and appeciation of pigeons by helping Palomacy inspired by Sunshine’s story! Thank-coo for helping Sunshine’s wish come true. Thank-coo for proving one pigeon can make a difference. Special birdie kisses for Bob’s wife Debbie as Sunshine expresses his gratitude for him and all other birdie rescuers and advocates. And an extra big wing hug to Elizabeth at Palomacy! We are so thankful to be included in Palomacy’s fundraiser. Thank-coo for teaching the world about the love pigeons and doves! So many birdie lives have been saved because of Palomacy. And so many people adopted and share joy with unreleasable pigeons and doves because of Palomacy’s presence in the global community.

Thank you!

Laura Lee & Sunshine & Henny Penny & Sweet Potato

Please donate to support Palomacy here now for +50% Bonus Match & more!

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June 13, 2016
by Elizabeth
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Pigeon Appreciation Day 2016

We appreciate pigeons every day- for their gentleness, their loyalty, their courage. Let’s share our love of these birds with everybody on Pigeon Appreciation Day- June 13th, 2016!  Pigeons are the angels among us and they deserve a lot more appreciation than they get! You can always make a donation in support of pigeon rescue here. Please use #PigeonAppreciationDay in your tweets, Instagram & Facebook posts!

Holly Conrad Pigeon Appreciation Day 2016

Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day from Holly Conrad & Feathers!

Pigeon Appreciation Day by Leda Chung Hosier 2016

Pigeon Appreciation Day by Leda Chung

Pigeon Appreciation Day by Elsa Chang

Pigeon Appreciation Day 2016 by Elsa Chang

Christiana Reed Pigeon Appreciation Day 2016

Here’s what Christiana did to celebrate International Pigeon Appreciation Day with her work colleagues – pijucational material, sweetened with cupcakes, brownie bites, and homemade vegan shortbread pigeon cookies.

Photo by Ingrid Taylar

Photo by Ingrid Taylar

Indy Says Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day (Photo by Kira Stackhouse)

Indy Says Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day (Photo by Kira Stackhouse)

Opal Says Nice Kitty! Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day

Opal Says Nice Kitty! Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day

Daisy Says Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day

Daisy Says Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day

Shadow Says Appreciate the Pigeon! (Photo by Jill McMurchy)

Shadow Says Appreciate the Pigeon! (Photo by Jill McMurchy)

Violet Says Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day!

Violet Says Happy Pigeon Appreciation Day!

Selfie with Lopez by Jaclyn Alderete

Selfie with Lopez by Jaclyn Alderete

Valiant Says Appreciate the Pigeon!

Valiant Says Appreciate the Pigeon!

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June 7, 2016
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

The Truth About “Dove Releases”

Guest Post by Kristi Craven

When I was a wedding and special occasion singer, I would often see a “dove release” as a part of the ceremony.  How breathtaking and awe inspiring it was to both myself and the other attendees to watch these majestic birds fly high up into the sky, circle around and then fly off to some unknown destination. Each time I witnessed it, I became more intrigued and wondered what was involved in training these birds to perform so magnificently. I was determined to find out and see if I too, could possibly do the same and be able to add this  to my repertoire of services  to make additional money at these events.

I decided to speak to the trainer at the next ceremony I performed.  The gentleman said it was pretty easy to train the birds, but it involved a lot of time and dedication.  I felt I could do this and if successful enough, quit my day job and make it my full time career.  This same gentleman sold me a few squabs and adult birds and I hired someone to build me a loft. The first thing I discovered was that these birds were not doves at all, but white homing pigeons. The word pigeon immediately strikes negativity to some people and since they are a member of the Rock Dove family, this was more pleasant to the ears of potential customers. Still, they were beautiful and intelligent and I became quickly attached to them.  I decided the best way to get all the latest tips and strategies was to join a group of like individuals who were all doing the same thing. This brought me to the NWDRS. (National White Dove Release Society) At first, I was thrilled to find this group. The members were full of advice on how to keep the birds healthy and strong, and how to avoid predators both on the ground and in the sky and how to raise the little hatchlings and squabs.  The two adult pairs I had immediately started laying eggs and raising young so I was encouraged.  I acquired another pair and before I knew it, I had a loft of 40 birds.  We were ready to train!

Kristi's flock of white homing pigeons

Kristi’s flock of white homing pigeons

We started with exercise around the yard and then a few blocks from the park to home. Everyone was accounted for each release and things were going well.  On the 4th trial, two birds ended up missing. I searched and searched for them and finally found one of them shivering on a rooftop a few blocks from home. Her mate was missing and she looked like she had been traumatized and feathers were missing. I brought her home and put her in isolation.  She seemed to be doing well the first few days, but died on the third. I was heartbroken. I went to my friends at NWDRS who were all sympathetic but let me know that these things happen and not to grow too emotionally attached to the birds. I found that difficult to handle as I was already attached to them. I had named them all and tagged them so I would know who was who. The other members warned me that they are not pets, but commodities. I didn’t understand why they could not be both but tried to put those events behind me and move forward.

A few months later, I was surprised to find that two of my all white birds gave birth to a multi-colored baby.  He was mostly grey with salt and pepper markings.  I again asked my friends how this happened and what should I do with this little guy.  This was the first time I heard the term “cull”  I had no idea what it meant, but it soon became very clear. I was advised that this bird would “ruin the flock” and needed to be removed from the loft so not to breed with any other. (Incidentally, his nest mate was pure white like it’s parents and all the others). I was told ways of killing this bird including snapping his neck or smothering him in a plastic bag with alcohol. His parents took care of him and when he became old enough to eat on his own and his parents were no longer feeding him, I removed him and decided to make him my special mascot. He sort of imprinted on me and began following me around like a little sidekick. He was named Kemo (for Kemosabe in the Lone Ranger series) and quickly became a beloved pet.

Johnny the baby homing pigeon

This baby homing pigeon, the sort bred to be used as “wedding doves” was found at a trash dumpster, most likely dumped as “unfit” for the “dove release” business because of his markings. He was lucky not to be culled (killed) & to be found by a kind person before he was killed by a hungry animal. He was rescued by Palomacy & has been adopted. His name is Johnny.

It was becoming obvious that these birds were more than just commodities to me. They all had their unique personalities and idiosyncrasies and were all named accordingly. I found myself pulling further and further away from the NWDRS and their opinions but still participated in some of their events, particularly the 9/11 releases.  These, of course, were dedicated to the victims of the tragedy and the birds symbolized the hope for world peace. On the 10 year anniversary, I pledged 10 birds to be released from a nearby park. No sooner did I release them when a hawk appeared out of nowhere and grabbed one of my birds in flight. I was horrified as I watched helplessly as my poor Big Kahuna struggled to get away. That was the end. I told myself, I’d never do another release again and just let my birds enjoy retirement as I couldn’t bear to see anything like that happen again. I was further encouraged when the next day, Kahuna made it home.  I don’t know how he got away, but it  didn’t matter. I was never going to be the cause of peril for him or any other bird in my care again.  I also decided to not breed my birds anymore as it is hard on them to raise their young.

Homing pigeon Big Kahuna survived a hawk-strike

Homing pigeon Big Kahuna survived a hawk-strike

I dropped out of the NWDRS knowing I was defeated. Despite warning, I became too attached but could not see myself as using any living thing as a trophy for my own pleasure or anyone else’s. I was discouraged how most of these people only cared about what the birds could do for them, ignorant to the fact that they are very affectionate, gentle and trusting creatures. I could not judge their worth or value by deciding which ones live or die based on their appearance, performance or pedigree. I guess I am just not a top breeder and that’s okay with me. I have remained an educator including commenting on blogs pertaining to dove releases including the disastrous one with the Pope a few years ago when he released a bird, only to have it immediately attacked by two other birds. Nature does not respect our idealism that these birds represent peace, love, hope and joy.  They do represent all those things to me right in my own home, however.  These birds are not wild, but domestic and are not at all prepared for the dangers that await them in the open skies.

I now have both white homing pigeons and ringneck doves as pets and constantly use them to show people the difference between the two species as these poor little ringnecks usually end up dying from starvation or an attack from an animal on the ground like a dog or cat if ever released. I used them as display at a wedding a few times, but never as release birds. They are much smaller and not very good flyers at all. They are all members of my family now and I can only be sorry for my previous ignorance and hope I can use that experience to make a difference.

Kristi Craven

Dove release survivors

These three Ringneck doves, now named Nikki, Sage & Jordan were all found injured and stray in San Jose. They are the lucky ones- survivors of a do-it-yourself “dove release” that killed who knows how many. They were rescued by Palomacy & B2L House.

Note from Palomacy Director Elizabeth Young
Please speak out against “dove releases”. Whether done by professionals using trained white homing pigeons as described above or by do-it-yourselfers who tragically buy and “release” white King pigeons or white Ringneck doves, it is animal exploitation that risks the injury, suffering and death of the birds used.
What Happens When Doves Get Released
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May 31, 2016
by Elizabeth
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Baby I’m a Star! The Story of Prince

On Saturday, April 23rd I got a frantic call for help. A vet tech named Tania, who loves animals, was desperately searching for someone to help a badly injured baby pigeon. He was barely three weeks old and had somehow survived being attacked by an animal. He was beat up, his beak was broken (top and bottom) and his wounds were infected. She saw his curiosity and liveliness and the will to live in his bright eyes and she had stopped the euthanasia process that had been initiated upon his arrival. Everyone she called had said they too would euthanize. But I said we would try to save him. Our motto is: We don’t have to start with euthanasia.

Prince on intake 4/23/16

Prince on intake 4/23/16

Tania knew from the person who had brought him to her at the vet clinic that Prince had been living on the ground at a gas station for at least a week before his rescue. His parents continued to feed him (and his twin) that whole time and somehow, he had survived the attack that had ripped out his tail feathers, hurt his elbow, left him cut and scraped around the neck and head and broken both his lower and upper mandibles. But he needed more help than they could provide.

Prince's mother, twin & father at their gas station home

Prince’s mother, twin & father at their gas station home

So Tania drove 30 miles one way to deliver the baby pigeon to me. When she got in her car, the song When Doves Cry was playing on the radio and so she named the little bird Prince in honor of the beloved musician who had died two days before.

Tania with Prince, the baby pigeon whose life she saved

Tania with Prince, the baby pigeon whose life she saved

When Prince arrived, I could immediately see how full of life he was. He was in a bad way but he didn’t act it. He squeaked and begged to be fed like every pigeon child does, despite all his certainly painful injuries. The biggest concerns were fighting the infections (including trich) & trying to save his broken mandibles. A pigeon’s beak is so important! They use it to eat, to drink, to preen themselves and their mate, to kiss their mate, to gather and assemble nest materials, to feed their babies, to defend themselves and fight rivals… We have a pigeon fostered in our care, Fleetwood, who came to us missing his upper mandible (lost to a predator attack) who I have handfed every day for more than a year. He is very happy to be alive but I see what a disadvantage his half-beak is for him.

Prince was bright, alert & full of energy despite his injuries

Prince was bright, alert & full of energy despite his injuries

When he first arrived, I wasn’t sure if he’d survive but we were lucky and things went really well. I had to tube-feed and medicate little Prince and it was scary. I was terrified I would further damage his fragile and unstable mandibles. Our vet is closed on Sunday and so we were on our own till Monday morning. Holding my breath and opening his fragile beak as carefully as I could, I got his medicines and baby bird formula in and he squeak squeak squeaked for more. He was hungry! The antibiotics started working immediately and his infections began to resolve. He lounged in the sun watching pigeons through the window, preened the feathers that hadn’t been yanked out of him when he was attacked, tried to persuade Dolly, another foster pigeon living in the house, to be his mama bird (she declined) and snuggled with me.

Right elbow also injured

Right elbow also injured

Prince & Dolly hanging out

Prince & Dolly hanging out

Prince chillaxin'

Prince chillaxin’

Prince is such a vital and charismatic little pigeon! In the car for the hour and fifteen minutes it takes to get to the vet, he busily preened and looked out the window as if he took road trips all the time. Once at the vet’s, he won everyone’s heart with his courage and charm. It was decided that the best thing we could do for him was continue what we were doing… antibiotics, pain management, and lots of careful tube feeding to help him heal and grow. His mandibles were too unstable and surgery too risky. I was relieved to take him back home with me knowing we were on the right track but there was still a very real risk he could lose one or both of his mandibles.

Preened up a storm on ride to vet

Preened up a storm on ride to vet

Prince at Medical Center for Birds

Prince at Medical Center for Birds

Drs. Fitzgerald & Speer consult

Drs. Fitzgerald & Speer consult

Over the next few days, waxy caseous material built up in pockets in his beak creating pressure and threatening his recovery and that Friday we returned to the vet. Dr. Speer sedated him and was able to clean out a lot of debris while still preserving the delicate bits of tissue that were keeping his mandibles attached. I was as thrilled to bring him back the next day as he was to be back.

Dead tissue & wax-like pus built up

Dead tissue & wax-like pus built up

Prince meets & charms Jill

Prince meets & charms Jill

I had to leave Prince at the vet's

I had to leave Prince at the vet’s

Those first days after his wounded beak had been debrieded were very scary. While the wound was better, it looked worse, so raw. The little piece of tissue holding his upper beak on was so fragile. Prince never complained though and celebrated being back by napping in the dish of seeds that he always had available (but couldn’t yet eat).

Prince right after procedure

Prince right after procedure

Dr. Speer very happy with Prince

Dr. Speer very happy with Prince

Cleaned up & ready to heal

Cleaned up & ready to heal

Celebrating

Celebrating

In the weeks since, Prince has steadily improved. The swelling and infection in both his elbow and lower mandible disappeared. The little bit of tissue holding his very crooked (nearly torn off) upper mandible healed up and my fear that he would lose it diminished. (A crooked beak is better than none.) He’s grown in a whole bunch of new feathers to replace his missing tail and wing feathers and to fill in the many bald spots. His appetite is huge! He came in weighing only 190 grams and now weighs more than 300. I tube fed him 20-30 ccs of baby bird formula (with applesauce and mixed veggies baby food mixed in) three times a day and he learned to eat mush (mostly by slurping it up with a lot of tongue action). He’s a very eager and messy eater and gets it everywhere!

Mush face!

Mush face!

Putting on weight

Putting on weight

Snuggly

Snuggly

Helping me work

Helping me work

Learning to self-feed!

Learning to self-feed!

Tania gets frequent updates about Prince and she and her mother came to visit him. Tania writes, “Thank you so much to Elizabeth and Palomacy for existing, for helping little Prince out and saving his life, and all the other pigeons and doves’ lives that people just seem to disregard. I have a whole new respect and love for pigeons and now carry bird food with me in my car.”

Tania & Prince reconnect

Tania & Prince reconnect

Tania & Prince & her mom & pups

Tania & Prince & her mom & pups

As he’s healing and growing up, he’s started spending time outside in the aviary with the big pigeons. Supervised at first but now he’s strong enough to hold his own with the flock. He’s been eating lots of mush (with small seeds mixed in) every day and still being tube fed too. He’s had a few check ins back at our vets and just recently I took Prince to be an ambassador at his first outreach events and he made a whole lot of new friends for pigeons.

Prince loves his mush

Prince loves his mush

Showing off his wings

Showing off his wings

Dr. Fitzgerald loves Prince

Dr. Fitzgerald loves Prince

Dr. Hernàndez loves Prince

Dr. Hernàndez loves Prince

Post-bath aviary time

Post-bath aviary time

Making new friends

Making new friends through outreach

A great ambassador

A great ambassador for Palomacy

Prince, with his funny face, is a star on our Facebook & Instagram pages and his determination inspires a lot of people. Tania had seen right away that, despite his terrible condition, he wanted to live and she was so right. This little pigeon is full of joy and doesn’t let his crooked beak hold him back. On May 29th, Prince taught himself to eat pigeon feed! It isn’t easy and he must make multiple attempts to get one seed but he’s doing it! (He needs a deep dish of seed and extra time to eat.) For the past 36 hours, he has been completely self-feeding (seed only, no mush) and has actually gained a couple of grams!

Prince will never be releasable. He’s too tame and his crooked beak would be too great a disadvantage if he was trying to make it on his own as a wild bird. (Surgery to straighten his beak has a high risk for failure and a low chance of success and we don’t see a prosthetic helping.) He will though live a happy and full life as a cherished pet- either indoors or outside in a predator-proof aviary. And Prince wants to live. That is a fact.

No more need for mush!

No more need for mush!

Thank you for helping us to help birds like Prince. We couldn’t do it without you.

Prince & Elizabeth

Prince & Elizabeth thank you!

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May 14, 2016
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

Happy Rescued Ringneck Dove

Guest Post by Janie Krag

Introduction by Elizabeth Young, Palomacy Director

This is how the story began. On 5/13, I received this email from Janie:

Stray, domestic Ringneck dove living on borrowed time

Stray, domestic Ringneck dove living on borrowed time

I was just referred to you by the Wildlife Center.

Attached is a photo of a bird, which might be a Eurasian Collar Dove. It has been in my backyard, eating birdseed, for the past week and a half.  It is very tame and allows me to approach to about two feet from it. It seems to spend a lot of time cooing in a nearby tree.

I’ve been worried that it might be someone’s pet, but the Wildlife Center said these are feral birds, even though they can be kept as pets.

It has no band on its legs, that I can see.  I’m also very concerned that it will become an easy meal for the hawks that frequent this area in Los Gatos, or a loose neighborhood cat.
I would like to know what would be best for this dove ~ whether your organization could capture it and give it a safe home as a pet.

Thank you for your help!
Janie Krag

I responded:

Janie- you are right and I’m sorry to say that Wildlife Center is wrong.

This is not a wild Eurasian Collared dove.

It is a domestic Ringneck dove and yes- it needs to be rescued and given a safe home ASAP. (You’re absolutely right- hawks, gulls, ravens, cats, raccoons, rats, dogs, etc. are all threats.)
Please lure him indoors to your home or garage if you can with food… once inside he’ll for sure be catchable.

Or if you can catch him outside, that’s great but be warned that if you miss the first time, it will be much harder after that. (see this article for more info- http://www.pigeonrescue.org/resources/in-case-of-emergency/ it is written about pigeons but all the same applies for doves).

Once he is caught, we could teach you how to care for this clever, self-rescuing dove as a pet. (We’re very full up but will squeeze him in if we have to.)

And please- follow up with the Wildlife Center and fill them in. This is an easy one- this pied coloration is ALWAYS domestic, never wild.

If you really need help catching him, I’ll try to connect you with a volunteer who can try and help.

THANK YOU Janie, for advocating so tenaciously for this poor little dove. He is living on borrowed time and you are saving his life.

Elizabeth

The next day, Janie sent this:

Jill arrived with all the rescue gear and I am enormously thankful for her kindness and bird expertise.

Palomacy volunteer Jill brought a kennel and her own pet dove Fava (caged inside) as a lure to bring the stray dove down from the trees

Palomacy volunteer Jill brought a kennel and her own pet dove Fava (caged inside) as a lure to bring the stray dove down from the trees

I sure couldn’t have accomplished this feat on my own!   I am so relieved that this bird has been saved from being hawk, crow, or cat dinner.  It’s amazing that it survived for five days last weekend when I was out of town and unable to provide seed (it had appeared two days before I left town and I didn’t have time to figure out this new twist in my life and I actually thought it was just an albino mourning dove, if such a thing existed, and hoped it would still be in my yard upon my return), plus it somehow wasn’t seen by the frequent hawks and crows flying around my neighborhood. And thank you, Elizabeth, for responding so quickly to my email yesterday.

Jill’s bird, Fava, was the “bait.”

 

Pet dove Fava caged inside the kennel/trap to serve as a lure

Pet dove Fava caged inside the kennel/trap to serve as a lure

The lost dove is in the large tree.

Dove Rescue Scout 051416 IMG_6686

Scout, my dog, was entertained with our antics. Jill said it’s tradition for the person who initiated the rescue to name the rescued bird, so I named it Scout because my dog was so calm and patient during this entire 3-hour adventure!

Scout Dog Scout Dove Rescue 051416 IMG_6689

Fava enjoyed being outdoors and watching the Titmouse birds eating black sunflower seeds nearby.

Scout Dove Rescue Fava 051416 IMG_6691

We waited for hours as we watched the to-be rescued bird above us and he watched us, while he preened and coo’d.  We even played Ringneck Dove Cooing videos on YouTube, hoping to encourage him to visit Fava!

We couldn’t take photos of the actual rescue (thankfully, Scout was snoozing on the grass) because we were afraid to leave our posts to grab our phones and then scare the dove. Here he is in a plastic container we used for transport.
Scout Dove Rescue 051416 IMG_6695

He was very calm once inside the house. Jill retrieved him from the dog cage and gently held him.  He then posed for photos with Jill, Scout and me. So happy for a happy and safe ending to this story!

Scout the dog, Scout the rescued dove and Jill the heroic Palomacy volunteer!

Scout the dog, Scout the rescued dove and Jill the heroic Palomacy volunteer!

Success!!!  Jill and Fava (her Ringneck dove) captured “Scout” in my backyard in only 3 hours!  We got her bird into a critter trapping cage, put that inside her dog crate, poured birdseed inside, set it on the deck and waited while the lost bird preened, coo’d and watched us (watching him) from the large tree in neighbor’s yard.  Then we decided to move the “bait” bird and cage to the lawn so he could see it better, and Jill was super creative as she attached string to the cage door in hopes of being able to pull it shut once lost bird inside.  After 3 hours he finally flew down to my deck and displayed to sign of walking over to the lawn, so we tiptoed the cage back to the deck where he was near the bird baths.  Since the lost bird is real tame and used to my presence, he didn’t care that we were within 3 feet of him.  We placed the “bait” cage where it had been previously located and made a trail of seed leading to the open cage door. Jill relocated to the other side of the deck with the end of the string while I stood six feet from the cage, waiting.  This bird is very curious and spent about 15 minutes walking around the cage, checking it out. Finally he hopped inside, eating the birdseed. In a couple minutes he got to the end of cage and then Jill discovered that the stringed door wouldn’t move, so I stealthly tiptoed over to the door and closed it. The newly christened bird, Scout, fluttered a bit but was easy to transfer to a smaller plastic container (after we punched holes it the top) after taking celebratory photos of the new Scout, and my dog Scout who waited so patiently with us on the lawn!

Thank you to all who contribute their time to this wonderful organization!
Janie
Scout joins our flock of rescued Ringneck doves fostered at Andy's Rescue pet Shop

Scout (shown here with Azuki & Kozmo) joins our flock of rescued Ringneck doves fostered at Andy’s Rescue pet Shop

Scout is available for adoption through Palomacy

Scout is available for adoption through Palomacy

We need more volunteers to help with all the requests we get for rescue, coaching & support. Please join us! Learn more about volunteering for Palomacy here.

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May 6, 2016
by Elizabeth
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Community Initiatives’ Unexpected Visitor

Guest Post by Amanda Scheper

Amanda & an Unexpected Visitor

Amanda & an Unexpected Visitor

Amanda Scheper is Palomacy’s Program Services Specialist at Community Initiatives as well as a pigeon lover. She works in their office in downtown San Francisco where they serve more than 100 charitable causes, including Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions, and “sponsor initiatives for the benefit of communities in service to social change”. Palomacy uses their address for mail and on March 16th, 2016, that led to an unexpected visit.

Community Initiatives recently had an unexpected and unusual visitor stop by the office. A pigeon!

About a year ago, a baby pigeon was found and raised by a woman named Leonor. The little pigeon quickly became part of Leonor’s family. Unfortunately, Leonor was recently told by her landlord that she would not be allowed to keep her pigeon. It’s unfortunate that people don’t understand that pigeons are loving, clean and quiet pets; they are perfect little companions, especially in San Francisco’s smaller homes.  Given how close Leonor and the pigeon had become, this was devastating news. This led Leonor to researching Palomacy and then bringing her pigeon to Community Initiatives to surrender her. Leonor didn’t realize that Palomacy doesn’t have a shelter, that all their rescue work is done in the homes and backyard aviaries of their foster care providers.

So, Leonor’s little pigeon was brought to our Community Initiatives office in the hopes that Palomacy could care for her and help her find a forever home. My colleague Andrea and I had the pleasure to meet with Leonor to understand her situation. The little pigeon stood on Leonor’s shoulder and listened as she shared many sweet stories such as how every day when Leonor came home from work, the little pigeon would do a ‘welcome home’ dance at the front door for her! It was immediately clear to me that having to choose between her home and her beloved pigeon was extremely painful for Leonor. In a city like San Francisco, tenants don’t have many options and no one should have to choose between their loved ones and their home. As we continued to talk, the little pigeon decided she wanted to take a self-guided tour of the office. She flew off to our finance department, startling some of our team while also re-filing some of their paperwork.

Leonor has a fly-about

Leonor has a fly-about

Once the little pigeon was done flying around, hopping on desks and heads, Leonor and the little pigeon said their goodbyes to each other. Although already at capacity, Palomacy had responded immediately and we arranged that I would bring the surrendered pigeon home and Elizabeth would pick her up that same evening.

The sweet little bird was named Leonor in honor of her beloved person. After a few days of helping Elizabeth in her office, Leonor the pigeon was transferred to a loving foster-to-potentially-adopt family.

Leonor helping

Leonor helping

About a month after parting from Leonor, little Leonor has settled into life with her foster family, Leda and Derrick. Understanding how hard it is to lose a little feathered friend, Palomacy and Leda coordinated a reunion visit at Community Initiatives for Leonor the person to visit with Leonor the pigeon and Leda her foster volunteer. The visit was so sweet and wonderful! Palomacy is an amazing organization. Not only do they consider the needs of birds, but they also are cognizant of the needs of those that love the birds.

Family reunion

Family reunion- Xochitl, Leonor & Leonor

Leonor & Leonor

Leonor & Leonor

Love is strong

Love is strong

Foster volunteer Leda brought Leonor to visit with her first family

Foster volunteer Leda brought Leonor to visit with her first family

Who knew our Pine Street office would be a safe haven for domestic pigeons? It may have been an unexpected interaction, but we sure had fun supporting Palomacy in this unexpected way. Leonor the pigeon is now in a safe place and is lucky to have so many people who love her dearly.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 3.53.40 PM

Post script by Leonor’s foster volunteer Leda Hosier: Leonor is such a joy. She absolutely LOVES company and will follow you from room to room. She’s got a lot of spunk in her and she’s been very entertaining to have around. She’s a great little bird!

Leda & Leonor hit it off right away

Leda & Leonor hit it off right away

Leonor loves to help!

Leonor loves to help!

Leonor is already a talented ambassador

Leonor is already a talented ambassador

Leonor

Leonor

UPDATE: 5/15/16 It’s official! Leda & Derrick have adopted Leonor. She’s been renamed Olive & she is home!

Leda & Olive (formerly Leonor)

Leda & Olive (formerly Leonor)

 

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March 30, 2016
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

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
1 Comment

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
0 comments

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!

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Download the findings & recommendations

Our volunteers save birds' lives

Our volunteers save birds’ lives

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