June 11, 2017
June 11, 2017
June 11, 2017
THIS ARTICLE IS COMING SOON! UNTIL THEN, PLEASE JOIN & POST TO PALOMACY’S FACEBOOK GROUP FOR HELP.
June 11, 2017
Guest Post in 2 Parts by Mallika Upadrasta & Melne Murphy
PART 1 Mallika Upadrasta: I was getting out of my friend’s car in a hurry to catch the train at Ashby BART station. I saw him land on one of those huge concrete flower planters on the side walk. Even as he was flying down I knew something was wrong with him. He sat uncomfortably, bunching up his feathers. He got up and started limping around, pecking for food in the dirt. That’s when I saw that one of his legs was missing. Most of the feathers on his back were missing. He flew down from the concrete planter to the side walk and sat there, unable to move too much. Passersby would walk close and see him on the ground but nobody had the time to stop for him.
I tried getting closer to him but it only scared him more. So I tried to stay at a safe distance and kept a watch on him, all the while trying to reach rescue centers. It was almost 5 in the evening and almost all the places were closed. Nobody was available after business hours. I got an email address from one of the automated messages. Totally not expecting a response, sure that nobody looks as much at emails, I sent an email to Adoptkings@gmail.com with a picture of him. I got a response in half hour, directing me to keep him safe and ask for help from passersby to catch him while she tried to find a volunteer to come help. My phone battery was dying and I knew my family would get worried. I had already tried to grab him many times in those two hours but it was impossible. His reflexes were way faster than mine. I tried feeding him my leftover lunch and he liked that. I got closer to him and started moving my hand close to his beak so he would trust me but I guess it doesn’t work that instantly as he flew off to a far planter when I made my final attempt to catch him. In despair, I walked to the train.
I felt so guilty leaving him there. While on the train I got a call from a lady asking about the pigeon. It lifted my spirits! I texted his location hoping he would still be there. He was! I got a text back with his picture after the rescue. All this while, Ms. Elizabeth Young was communicating over the email with me. The lady who rescued was Melne Murphy! I couldn’t be more thankful to them. I have been getting updates about him. Melne took him to the bird hospital the next morning and, because he only has one leg, he will need a forever home. I was asked if I could take him and I am excited about fostering him! We named him Captain Jack after Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean. Like him, our Jack is brave and has a limp just like a pirate! Our little fellow is very curious and quite friendly for a pigeon.
Thanks to Melne, Elizabeth and the doctors who are treating him. They are amazing!
PART 2 Melne Murphy: Moe and I arrived at the Ashby BART station, and an inital scan of the large planters outside the station where the bird had last been seen showed nary a bird. We compared the planters to the photos we’d been sent to insure we were in the right place. We were, but no birds. It was nearly 6:30, and the remains of the day were steely grey with the an unseasonal rain storm. Knowing that with the fading light the birds are beginning to think more about roosting than foraging, I began to think that we’d have no luck finding this one bird.
With no birds on the upper level, we proceeded down to the BART entrance to below the road level to see if we had any sightings. We spied a couple of pigeons all tucked in for the night high above our heads on a ledge, and that served to reaffirm my thought that we weren’t going to find this one bird. As we walked along, we picked up and disposed of 6-8 hair extensions that were laying on the ground– items like human hair or hair extensions are one of the prime reasons for pigeon stringfoot injuries.
Nearing the BART entrance, I spied a flock of pigeons on the far end, and quickened my pace to scan for our little injured guy. I almost immediately spied a limping pigeon headed with intent toward a small gap between the station wall and another structure, about 5″ wide. That was the bird! I signaled for Moe to hurry with the pet carrier, removing my coat to free up arm mobility.
Just as I neared, the bird slipped into the gap. I heard an angry “COO!” eminating from the recesses of the gap, and peered in to see our target– but deeper in, a rather angry pigeon who was all about defending his space from the intruder. I reached in, and the bird scurried away from me, but then he was faced with his angry peer, pecking and cooing with gusto. Our bird faltered and ran back toward the exit, despite the evil human hands there. I made a grab for him, and, perhaps with not the most graceful catch, caught him nonetheless. He struggled mightily, and after a failed attempt to get him in the carrier backwards, we turned him around (head first works best!) and popped him into the carrier.
Awaiting him in there was a big handful of delicious seeds, and by the time we had walked back to the car, the bird was busy stuffing his beak. (NOTE- What we did here was wrong! We let him eat a handful of seed, and seeing he’d eaten it all, gave him another handful. When I dropped him off at the veterinarian the next morning, the vet commented that his crop was HUGE! He informed me that a starving bird (or any other starving creature) needs to use some of its depleted store of energy for digestion, and if you feed too much right away, it can actually lead to the gastro-intestinal tract shutting down. I will remember this in the future, and only feed a small amount at first. The bird will be fine, but I could have caused it worse problems by offering it an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord.)
The very next morning I took our little charge out to Medical Center for Birds, and the doctor informed me that the bird lost a leg due to injury, and said the leg had not completely healed, so the injury was fairly recent. He also was missing two toes from the other foot, and a lot of feathers on his back, including his entire tail. And, since foraging on one leg is inordinately difficult for a pigeon, he was extremely thin. If I were to posit a guess, I’d say the bird had been struck by a car.
The doctor said this pigeon will not be able to return to the wild. The missing leg makes it too difficult for him to forage effectively, so he will be looking for a forever home. The good news is, the doctor said that during his exam, the bird was extremely calm and displayed a great disposition, and will likely make a very good companion pigeon. Anyway, that is the story of the rescue of this little sweet bird, thanks to Mallika, an observant BART rider who took the time and had the tenacity to find this little pigeon person some help.
Melne is fond of all birds, wild and domestic, but ever since befriending a flock of pigeons in downtown Oakland, she has found a special kinship with Columba Livia. She is a volunteer for Palomacy, and currently lives with three pigeons, Bowie, a dark checker feral male adopted from Medical Center for Birds, and two Palomacy birds–his mate Carlita, a Budapest Short-faced Tumbler, and Palomacy foster bird Banano, a fancy female Roller, plus two Green Cheek Conures, Cheeky and Sage.
Moe discovered a love for pigeons by interacting with a flock in Oakland, and has assisted in numerous feral pigeon rescues, with a keen eye for finding nestlings in trouble. He now has relationships with three different flocks across the East Bay, and appreciates their understated beauty and amusing antics. He has volunteered for Palomacy fundraising events and Aviary maintenance.
Note from Elizabeth: Thank you to Mallika for all she did to ensure that poor little Captain Jack got the help he needed. She saved his life by reaching out and persisting till she found help for him and thank you to Melne and Moe for dropping everything to rush out and rescue him. Please support the work Palomacy does- donate, volunteer, foster and/or adopt!
May 22, 2017
Congratulations to Super* Sochi the self-rescuing King pigeon and his rescuer and photographer Patti Delaney! This beautiful photo, taken while Sochi was making a very special new friend at an outreach event earlier this year, has made it into Global Giving’s 2017 Photo Contest as a semi-finalist! Please support us with your vote and help us compete for the $1000 prize and lots of extra publicity! Contest voting starts now and goes through Friday, May 26th at 9 AM PT. Only one vote per person and email verification is required. (*Self-rescuing pigeons who, like Sochi, inspire the rescue and adoption of other pigeons are promoted to the status of Super!)
Guest Post by Patti Delaney
On February 18, 2014, I arrived home from work to find my husband sitting on the planter box in the front yard talking to a pigeon. He said it wouldn’t leave. I suspected something was wrong with it, injured or sick. I threw my sweater over it and put it in a cat carrier. I sent a picture to Elizabeth Young at Palomacy, asking “What do I have?” “Domestic, unreleasable King pigeon bred for meat, squab”, she said.
I brought him to see her at the next outreach and confirmed he bird was a big, male King pigeon in great shape considering he had been out alone and unprotected.
The Winter Olympics were on and the landscape of the Olympics in Sochi resembled the coloring of this pigeon—he was named Sochi.
Sochi stayed indoors in a cat condo until a used aviary could be assembled and refurbished. We paired him up with a pigeon we thought was female, Pearl, but who turned out to be male too. This paring was not a good match. Eventually two rescued female domestic pigeons were introduced to Sochi and Pearl. The aviary was too small for all four pigeons. Sochi and his chosen girl, Amica, stayed; Pearl and Xena left to be fostered.
Last July, another self-rescuing domstic pigeon, dyed, starving and near death, landed on a relative’s window sill. After nursing her back to life and when she was strong enough, she was placed in a cage within the aviary. We named her Jo Jo. Jo Jo loved Sochi, but Amica refused to share Sochi. This was not a good situation.
Our solution was to build a big, beautiful 8’ x 10’ aviary. With the help of Palomacy, we found a mate for Jo Jo and brought back Pearl and Xena to be adopted. They are all home. There is no bullying from Sochi. In fact, he is a healthy, happy pigeon with Amica and all his flock mates. (Turns out it is easier to care for a flock of pigeons than just a couple!) Periodically he goes to outreach events. He does a great job and thoroughly enjoys the attention.
Don’t forget to vote for Super Sochi and please share with your friends!
Patti Delaney is a long-time bird lover. In 1992, she met and purchased a 5-year old Umbrella Cockatoo, Lacy. Wanting to learn more about bird care, she became a member of the Capitol City Bird Society. In the Sacramento community, she was a paid guest speaker with Lacy. When Lacy died unexpectedly in 2009, she found and adopted an Umbrella Cockatoo, Georgi, from the bird rescue, Mickaboo. This is when she met Elizabeth Young with Palomacy (previously MickaCoo) and became knowledgeable and passionate about stopping the exploitation of domestic pigeons and doves.
May 22, 2017
Guest Post by Kyra Richter
If there are two things that define me, it is my love of nature and my love of illustration. I have my mother to thank for inciting that passion for all living things. Growing up, my mother would always take time to go exploring with me. She would point out all the little creatures and tell me stories about their tiny but busy and important lives. To this day, I always step over an ant line or let a beetle cross the sidewalk. My mother would tell me they had places to go, other bugs to see and important roles to play in nature.
Later, as I fell in love with art, and began illustrating, she always encouraged me by saying “you need to make a book!” But we often think moms just say these things because they only have eyes for their children. As time passed, more and more people would encourage me to illustrate children’s books. I just didn’t have the right story. Well, the character and the story finally came the day I met Luci.
A year ago, I arrived at work to find someone had left a bucket on my desk. Inside it was a baby pigeon. I work in the environmental department of a power plant, so I guess they figured I’d know what to do. I had no idea what to do. I had never interacted with a bird before, much less a pigeon. But here was this little face looking at me with no fear and absolute trust. Thank goodness for Google, who let me to Palomacy; and Youtube where I watched videos of people feeding squabs! I learned quickly and little Luci was a good teacher too. All my intentions of rearing her to return to freedom failed as Luci very quickly took to us (me and my husband) as his new parents. We did our best to give Luci as much freedom as (safely) possible. Part of having a free roaming bird at home meant we had to locate and purchase little “pigeon pants” so Luci would not make messes all over the place. One day I was at the grocery store when I got a frightened call from my husband who said that Luci had gotten out an open window- while wearing pants. All I could picture was a pigeon landing on a wire with other wild pigeons and being mercilessly teased beacause: pants! It’s comical but we were very worried. This was for naught as Luci came back within the hour. We were all very lucky and learned our lesson. Luci had changed our opinion about those plain gray birds people often call “rats with wings”. Luci is intelligent, has a very unique personality, and is very playful and loving. Caring for one rescue quickly turned into fostering and caring for more pigeons, mostly so Luci would not be alone (He now actually has a wife- Stella- another hand raised rescue).
Here was my story at last! In addition, I was inspired by how beautiful pigeons are, once you take a moment to look at them you can’t take your eyes off them. So I started to draw them, and as I did so the story fully developed. This story has been lovingly illustrated in watercolor and ink under the careful supervision of Luci and Stella (you may have noticed that Luci is a “he” and not a “she”, something which took us some time to figure out and hence the odd spelling of his name). In this story, I hope to share the wonder and beauty of the smallest and plainest things. I hope children will be interested in the adventures they can have in their own back yard, observing ants, busy bees and butterflies, and see the joy that can be had from the simplest friendship- be it with a bird or with that one kid who does not look like the rest. Ultimately, that we are all unique and special and friendship can be found if only we are open to it.
Publishers tend to not be interested in publishing total unknowns. It is easier to self-publish. Did you know Beatrix Potter self-published the first edition of Peter Rabbit? I decided to self-publish, but in order to do this I need to crowdfund. So I began a Kickstarter campaign to help me collect the funds necessary to publish this childrens book.
With your pledge, I will be able to publish this book as an 11″ X 8.5″ hardbound book with a dust jacket and coated matte paper so that the 24 pages of illustrations can look their best. The book will be competitively priced and once this is up and running and 10% of profits will go to Palomacy, who provided me with the guidance I needed to be able to raise three healthy and happy pigeons, and successfully rehabilitate four others this past year (see my endorsement on Great Nonprofits).
The pledges also come with little extras, like signed 8″ X 8″ high quality prints of my watercolors, thank you cards illustrated by me, and even original illustrations from the book (that will be hard to part with!). A limited number will also receive an original watercolor pigeon portrait (mine, or yours if you have a pigeon you want me to paint a portrait of)! Should I be fortunate enough to overfund the project, I’d print more books but also be able to improve the rewards (like a T-shirt or baby onsie, for which I have designs!).
As many of you know, shipping across the Atlantic or, pretty much anywhere outside of the US is costly, and I aim to ensure you get a pristine book. Packaging and shipping will be part of the experience of getting a quality product. I have estimated approximately 4% for changes in pricing (I have my estimates but shipping costs could change) or, given that this is my first time, any errors in my estimation of costs. As mentioned above, at this point in time, any profits will be donated to Palomacy.
Please visit the Kickstarter Campaign for details on pledges, rewards, and an explanation of risks and challenges and how crowdfunding campaigns work.
I am so delighted with this project, and loving every second of this experience. I believe the story, as simple as it may seem, has a lot to impart to children. I already began layout for more stories. It is my intention that this is the beginning of a new path for me: illustrating stories and helping to draw attention to these most lovely and special birds. As an environmental manager, I have lived the frustration of how some birds are protected but the pigeon, which is not (and often considered a pest) suffers all the indignities. Their history is so unique, and long, and amazing. Their loyalty and love is an honor to witness. And they may seem plain and grey but they are truly beautiful creatures. My life will never be the same thanks to Luci. This is the least I can do.
I work at a nuclear power plant as an environmental supervisor. Before that I was a commercial diver and also a recreational dive instructor. But no matter where I am or what I am doing, all my free time is spent with my beloved pets, outside or inside, painting, doodling and writing stories. I was best known for my octopus themed illustrations and art until my little pigeons stole my heart and became my models and inspiration. My dream, and I am working toward it, is to be able to dedicate myself 100% to my art. Children’s books, cards, prints, and custom helmets and motorcycle gas tanks for starters!
May 22, 2017
Guest Post by Karen Gartz, Giving4Paws
Known as an “animal nut”, I became somewhat famous 15+ years ago for running a red light in reverse trying to capture a stray dog (I was successful!) My passion for helping animals started when I lived in Los Angeles and adopted a dog. It was then I found out that hundreds of animals were euthanized in city and county shelters. This reality is unacceptable, heartbreaking and I knew I had to do something. As a real estate agent with a somewhat flexible schedule, I became very involved in the rescue community and continued my efforts when I moved to the Bay Area in 2007. After witnessing firsthand the profound need to reduce euthanasia rates and rehome all types of animals, all I kept wondering was…. how I can do more and raise more money to help homeless animals? Giving4Paws was born.
Giving 4 Paws is a community service organization and nationwide network of animal loving real estate agents. Our mission is to support, address and impact the plight of homeless animals of all kinds. Through our relationships, resources, and involvement in our respective communities, we are making a difference through volunteering, sponsoring events, and especially through substantial donations ($1000-5000) to our rescue partners from our earnings on each closed real estate transaction.
Need to find a great agent? I spend all the time necessary to get to know you and understand your real estate needs, then will connect you with the best suited real estate agent in our network that will exceed your goals and expectations. It doesn’t end there…I stay with you and offer resources and additional support through the process.
In all these years involved in rescue, I had no idea there was such a need for pigeon and dove rescue until I meet Elizabeth, learned about these amazing species, and even held one, certainly an amazing experience!
Giving4Paws is thrilled to announce Palomacy has just joined us as a valued rescue partner. You too can help support Palomacy (at no cost) by letting us know if you or someone you know needs real estate assistance, anywhere in the country! For more information, visit www.Giving4Paws.org or contact us at 415-603-7800.
May 10, 2017
Many birds, wild, stray and pet, are killed by cats and dogs. (Stray domestic pigeons and doves are at terrible risk from pets and predators and must be brought into safety!) There is a very real risk involved with what Palomacy calls “blended families”, homes which include birds, cats and/or dogs. We work with each family on a case by case basis to help them introduce birds to their pets and teach them how to insure their safety. (Please read How to Choose a Cage.) The birds adjust quickly and aren’t much concerned and the majority of dogs and cats settle down and accept the new family members with impressive equanimity. We have found, with 10 years of experience and more than 800 birds served, that the risk can be managed so that it is very low on the list of threats to our pet birds, provided people take responsibility for protecting the birds. With care, we have been incredibly successful in keeping our foster and adopted birds safe alongside the dogs and cats they share homes with. (We have found that the health of our birds is much more likely to be threatened by getting out/lost, injuries from other birds, cancer, reproductive disease or worms than by supervised dogs and cats.) Here are recommendations from one of Palomacy’s most expert volunteers, Jill McMurchy.
Guest Post by Jill McMurchy
Often, while introducing pigeons to the public, I hear people say “I can’t have birds, I have cats (or dogs)” to which I reply, “So do I!”. They usually look surprised and ask how is that possible? It takes patience, care and common sense.
I’ve had dogs (at least three) and cats since I rescued my first pigeon in 2011. Not knowing I would be keeping Elinor, I introduced my dogs and cats to him slowly. Elinor was recovering from partial wing amputation when I brought him home so it was important to keep him in the house. My dogs had never been around a bird before, other than seeing them outside on our walks. I’d like to note as well that I have sight hounds, known for their deep instinct to hunt based on sight, not smell. Elinor was sequestered in a room, by himself, to quietly heal. In the few weeks he spent in the house, my dogs could smell and see him from time to time when I brought them in the room, one by one, always with Elinor safe in his cage. These were very short visits and I always praised them for ignoring him and focusing on me.
It didn’t take long for my dogs to figure out Elinor was a part of the pack and, in my dogs’ eyes, quite boring. He didn’t flit around, but rather stayed in one spot and preened, looked out the window and well, didn’t do much. This is typical pigeon behavior. They are masters of the leisure arts, spending much of the day napping, preening and eating. After a couple of weeks, they saw him as a fixture in this house.
In my experience, it’s important to let the other pets see the bird, smelling and getting a feel for bird behavior, the wing flapping, and the sounds ALWAYS IN A SUPERVISED AND CALM SETTING and always for short amounts of time, lengthening the exposure as time went on. I would often walk into the room with one dog at a time and focus my time and energy on something other than Elinor, then walk out – always giving the dog a treat for being calm and listening to me. If there was any excitement, we’d exit the room, no treat and enter again. Calm behavior was what I was looking for. If this sounds labor intensive, it really isn’t. It’s 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. In the long run, it’s worth it.
Here are some guidelines and ideas that I think are important –
- It’s ALWAYS important to make the bird feel secure. A stressed-out pigeon isn’t a happy pigeon. Once pigeons know they are safe, their confidence level goes up. They know that their cage equals safety. I never let the dogs invade their space. This includes when a pigeon is out and they’ve claimed an area (usually high up) that they feel is theirs. If it’s their cage, the dog isn’t allowed to stick their head in the cage or invade that space.
- Supervision. Always. If I have a bird loose in the house, I don’t leave the room without the bird. Ever. I will never trust my dogs or cats 100% if left to their own devices. Instinct is instinct.
- Common sense. If the bird remains in a closed room and is never exposed to your other pets, it’s natural that their curiosity will make them crazy. To know a pigeon is to love a pigeon, even for dogs.
- Wherever your birds are housed, their enclosure needs to protect them from the animals that have access to it. If you have cats, an indoor bird’s cage needs to have narrow bar-spacing to keep paws out. Even a small nick by a cat claw can result in death to a bird. Cats and dogs carry deadly bacteria in their mouths and claws called pasturella. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of seeing a pigeon suffer a slow and excruciatingly painful death when I wasn’t told a cat caught a pigeon I had picked up at a good Samaritan’s house. Even as someone who knows how to look over a pigeon for puncture wounds, I missed one and by the time I got her to the vet she had to be euthanized. Feathers hide a lot.
Jill is the partner to a scientist/farmer, mother of three plus two bonus kids, caregiver and animal lover. She has rescued dogs, cats, chickens, amazing pigeons and a deer mouse named Bizzee. She’s living the dream on an acre of land in Sunol and feels absolutely blessed to have found Elinor the racing pigeon on the side of the road in 2011. He came HOME with me that day and life has never been the same.
May 4, 2017
Guest Post by Emily Riska
June 23rd, 2016 was a very bittersweet day at Cheat Lake Animal Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. I was working an 11-hour shift, and I started my day off terribly by finding out that the ACCA’s very first educational ambassador bird, Luna, a stunning Barn Owl, had passed away overnight. She was a diva, but boy, was she special. She loved being out on the glove in front of people, moving her cute face side to side to listen to everything going on. She was the first larger bird I felt comfortable handling, though she was still intimidating! Needless to say, we were all very devastated and solemn that summer morning.
The Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia (ACCA) is a wild bird rehabilitation and conservation group that runs out of Cheat Lake Animal Hospital. The volunteers, myself included, work very hard to educate the public through various programs and presentations on how native birds are important to our ecosystem and how to conserve these species. We are licensed to give medical treatment, including euthanasia if necessary, to any bird species native to West Virginia, aside from game birds like turkey. Occasionally, raptors with non-life-threatening injuries that cannot survive in the wild will become our educational ambassador birds.
Later that day, a kind Samaritan brought us an injured feral pigeon he had found. He was very concerned about the bird’s welfare, and he even donated $100 to the ACCA when he dropped the bird off. I don’t remember how I ended up with him in my arms, but I remember just routinely walking around the clinic to find a cardboard box to stash him in until the veterinarian could assess him. I tucked him safely away and thought nothing of it…until later.
I came briskly walking around a corner, and another volunteer, Areil, quickly blurted out, “Hey, do you want a pigeon?” I stopped.
Areil was at a treatment table, holding a gas anesthesia mask over the pigeon’s head. Dr. Fallon, the ACCA’s vet, was at the next table down drawing up the “pink juice.”
“Uh, yeah. Can I do that? Legally?”
“Yep,” Dr. Fallon said, as he pushed the plunger of the syringe to replace the euthanasia solution into the bottle.
And that’s how I ended up with little Fergus. However, that isn’t the end to this story.
Since pigeons aren’t a native species, we cannot treat them or release them. On the other hand, as a non-native species, they can be legally kept as pets! Upon my adopting the pigeon, Dr. Fallon started diagnostics and treatment. Radiographs revealed a bad fracture at his “wrist,” as well as a BB pellet in his side. Someone had shot this gorgeous bird and left it to suffer and die a slow death, unless some predator came along and took advantage. My heart broke. He was a bit malnourished but otherwise in apparent good health.
A few days later, Dr. Fallon amputated half of that broken wing. It was a non-repairable fracture for sure. He lost all of his flight feathers on his left wing. He can no longer fly. The BB will remain in his side because it’s not causing any damage where it is.
After the amputation, I took him home. He had to stay in a cat carrier for a while until I could get the cage and supplies. Poor little dude was scared to death! Here he was, missing a wing, and in a weird place full of predators! (I have a dog and two cats.) I didn’t buy anything prior to the surgery because I’m superstitious, as most veterinary personnel tend to be. He was also on two oral medications, an anti-inflammatory for pain and an antibiotic for infection, and I’m sure medicating him was just the icing on the cake.
Fast forward to almost a year later, and Fergus is living the high life. He is possibly one of the most spoiled “house pigeons” in the world. He is healthy, broody, and a diva just like his namesake. He easily shares this apartment now with his predator flock (as well as the two newest additions, the budgies). He wears a Flight Suit and leash, suns himself with me outside, and has gone to work with me! Walking around during your shift in a big veterinary hospital with a pigeon on your shoulder is pretty great for coworker and client morale alike.
Having Fergus in my life has been a blessing. He makes me laugh, and I learn from him every day. The budgies are fun birds, but pigeons are so different! The noises they make, the dancing, the territorial behavior of the cranky boys, etc. He scares the dog and the cats. (He did the Wing-Fu on them once, they learned quickly.) Pigeons are honestly one of the best pets I can imagine, as well. They’re clean, easy to care for, and like to sit with you and watch TV. What could be better than that?
Emily Riska is a dedicated veterinary professional who has been in the industry for over 10 years. She also volunteers with the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia (www.accawv.org), a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is “to conserve the region’s wild birds through research, education, and rehabilitation.” She is passionate about advocating for pigeons whenever and wherever possible after welcoming Fergus, an injured feral Rock Pigeon, into her home. Fergus even has his own Instagram, @fergus_the_feral. Emily is an avid amateur birder, an outdoors enthusiast, and an aunt to three amazing nephews.
April 25, 2017
Guest Post by Olena Klingman
I have always loved birds and I have kept many different kinds of birds throughout my life. Usually I took ones that other people didn’t want or needed to re-home. I also helped to rescue wild birds by bringing injured or orphaned birds to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley for treatment and rehabilitation. This is almost what happened with Shmuel, a stunning West of England Tumbler domestic pigeon!
My best friend and fellow rescuer Olga found Shmuel at a shopping center parking lot in San Jose. She was shocked that he refused to fly away when she approached. Taking a closer look, she noticed he had clipped wings and beautiful long feathers on his feet and realized this pigeon was special. Still she called me right away for assistance saying she found “a pigeon that can’t fly” so my first instinct told me to take him to Wildlife Rescue. Next day we were both enlightened that yes indeed, he is special, he is no ordinary pigeon, he is a pure-breed pet! Our next step was to try to find the “owner” of this pet. Many Craigslist ads, posters and local shelter notices later, we only found a few questionable individuals and fake “rescues” who wanted to take him but no original owner. Since we know how many animals get abused by being re-homed online, we decided not to give him away and to foster him ourselves. After sometime my friend Olga realized she can not give Shmuel the environment that he needs in her home so she asked me to take over his care completely.
It’s been I don’t even know how many months, maybe even a year, that I lived with this beautiful and regal bird. I have always wanted a pigeon as a child, and in a way my dreams came true as I was living out the fantasy of having a tame pigeon sit on my hand. My mom decided to name him Shmuel, which means either “name of God” or “God has heard” in Hebrew. My mom and the rest of my family also found so much joy and pleasure in caring for this handsome boy, but it all did come at a price.
At the time I lived with my parents, brother and his wife in a small town-house and had to jump through hoops to make it work for everyone. I had a small room to myself that I practically had to convert to Shmuels personal flying and soiling space! We barely had a back yard big enough for any recreational usage, let alone an outdoor aviary. So the poor guy had to be cooped up indoors pretty much all the time and only got a chance to fly in my room. He did have a cage large enough for him to get around, spread his wings and nap in – I bought one that was originally intended for Chinchillas, so he really enjoyed all the platforms and ladders. The cage was open almost all the time except for at night, and he loved to go back in and out of it. Amazingly, he also responded to my commands when it was bed-time, I pointed my finger at the cage and said “mistse” which means “your place” in Ukrainian, and he would always respond by flying back inside!
He seemed to be content and living a happy life, but still I felt like he needed more than I could give him. I also felt horrible that he was an only pigeon, he didn’t have a mate or a bird friend to play with, and adopting more birds unfortunately was out of the question for me at the time. I tried to entertain him as much as possible by taking him out of the room while he sat on my hand or even on my head! I also tried to stimulate his needs for social interaction by placing his cage next to a large mirror and even challenging him with a toy! He usually loved to fight my hand when I changed his food and water, so I figured I will try a stuffed animal instead if that’s what he likes to do, even though I didn’t know anything at the time about why he does this behavior. That’s another reason why I was afraid to re-home him. Knowing nothing about pigeons, I assumed that he might be aggressive and worried that in a different home he might become a victim of abuse if someone takes his territorial behavior the wrong way. That thought alone scared me and prevented me from moving forward with his placement for adoption.
Eventually, I moved out of my parents home, got married and moved in with my in-laws (hardly an upgrade in living situation for most people, but knowing Bay Area home prices, it’s not an unusual living arrangement nowadays). That’s when I realized that I can not foster him anymore…and it broke my heart. Lost and panicked I couldn’t bare the thought of trusting another stranger to care for Shmuel. I reached out to my friends and neighbors only to be more disappointed that they can’t take him either.
Some online research lead me to find Palomacy and I finally felt like my prayers have been answered! Knowing that I had to re-home Shmuel within a month, I reached out to Elizabeth right away, pleading for help. I was amazed at how caring and understanding she was in helping me go through this situation. She not only offered a mountain of advice and explanation for Shmuels behavior, but she also agreed to take him into her foster care and give him a chance at a better life that I’ve always wanted for him. A week later I have brought Shmuel into her aviary, and he fit right in fairly quickly with other birds and felt at home flying around and enjoying the sunshine. I couldn’t be more happy for him knowing that he will now have a chance to find a “wife” and be adopted out as a bonded pair to a wonderful forever home. I had to give this one up and it’s so bitter-sweet to see him go, but knowing what I know now about pigeons and how much fun it is to have them, I will definitely look into adopting or fostering with Palomacy in the future (when I have my own home and enough space to build my own aviary), it’s the least I can do for all that Elizabeth and her staff have done for me and Shmuel.
If any of you reading this are considering adopting him, please know that he is an amazing bird – he’s not only very beautiful, but his personality is just irresistible. He really is quite a gem and I truly believe that anyone would be very lucky to add him to their family.
Editor’s Note: Shmuel is currently fostered in Elizabeth’s San Francisco aviary. He is single, eager to have a mate and available for adoption. He is a very gorgeous, charming bird who would be happy in either an aviary or, with a companion, as an indoor family pet. If you’re in the Northern California area and interested in adopting Shmuel, please complete our online application. Palomacy thanks Olena for her loving care and advocacy for Shmuel as well as her generous donations and ongoing support. I wish every lost pigeon could find his way to someone like Olena.
Olena Klingman is a dedicated professional musician, violin instructor and animal lover. She has been teaching private music lessons to children in the Bay Area since 2005. She grew up in Ukraine and always had a passion for rescuing animals, when not practicing her violin! Currently Olena lives in San Jose where she volunteers as a “dog socializer” at SJ Animal Care Center, and as a feral cat TNR specialist with Nine Lives Foundation in Redwood City. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her husband, singing, painting, and advocating for animal rights on her social media.
March 31, 2017
Did you know there are many different ways that you can help Palomacy to help the birds?
Palomacy needs volunteers to help with projects, transport, aviary bird care, fostering, outreach events and more!
Here are just a few of the opportunities available…
Aviary Bird Care Volunteers
Palomacy is currently seeking Aviary Bird Care Volunteers in Alameda, San Jose & San Francisco, CA! Warning: may be addictive! (Please complete our online application.)
ALAMEDA- We have a flock of 18 rescued pigeons fostered in our aviary at Ploughshares Nursery near the Main Street ferry terminal and we need volunteers to help care for them! The aviary needs to be cleaned every day and we currently only have three volunteers covering the seven days. Cleaning and feeding is very easy, it takes about 15-30 minutes, and is very fun! You get to hang out with 18 pigeons, and they’ll chat with you, and show off for you. They’re incredibly sweet and underappreciated animals.
SAN JOSE- Have 20 minutes once or twice a week (or more)? We would love your help at our Foster Dove Aviary at Andy’s (Rescue) Pet Shop in San Jose and we are happy to train interested volunteers. The volunteer work includes cleaning our foster aviary and checking in on the ten doves. It can be a quick clean or you can hang out for a while with these fun, beautiful birds and watch them with their busy lives.
SAN FRANCISCO- Aviary Bird Care Volunteer(s) needed to help feed, water, socialize and clean up after doves and pigeons housed in backyard foster aviaries in south east corner of SF (right near MUNI T Line & 101/280 connect, easy parking!). Work with Palomacy founder Elizabeth and learn all about pigeons and doves, rescue operations, doing the impossible, etc. Minimum commitment of 2 hours per week required.
Outreach & Humane Education Volunteers
Palomacy brings pigeons and doves to outreach, adoption and Humane Education events througout the Bay Area, from San Jose up to Sacramento and everywhere in between. It is super fun and easy to introduce these amazing, charming birds to people and we make lots of new friends for them every time we do. We will teach you on the job and you can bring your own pet or foster pigeons and doves or we may be able to pair you with ours (depending on the event). You can see scheduled upcoming events on our website but there are always others being planned and, if we know you’re interested, we’ll invite you. Please complete our online application or contact Elizabeth if you have questions.
Event Planning Volunteers
2017 is our tenth anniversary and we need to organize a wonderful get together in celebration of all that we are doing!
Special Project Volunteers
Create a new Palomacy video (3 minutes)
Update & Redo Online Forms (from VFB Pro to Formstack or ?)
Set up Palomacy Email Group (Dadamail or ?)
Upgrade Contacts Database (Donors, Volunteers, Newsletter subscribers)
You can enjoy birds & help save the lives of pigeons & doves even if you can’t adopt!
Animal Assisted Therapy Volunteers
We are currently recruiting volunteers with one or more pigeons (adopted or fostered) to join us in our participation with the SF SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy Program. (Volunteer opportunities are located in SF, vet check certificate and additional training required.)