March 17, 2015
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Josie: An Almost-Survivor of Pigeon Racing

Helpless at the Oakland Airport parking lot

Helpless at the Oakland Airport parking lot

March 12, 2015  It was 5:15 and I had just finished up a presentation about pigeons to a youth group at the Marin Humane Society. I checked my email before heading to my next appointment (a care consult for a self-rescuing pigeon named Snezhok) and read this:

“Hi Patricia – thought to reach out to you as you are a close-by bird friend. I’m about to board an airplane out of Oakland airport and came across an injured pigeon in the parking lot. WildCare in San Rafael will take him but he needs to be picked up and held overnight as they only accept during business hours. Think you might be able to get him tonight? If not I am flying back tomorrow and will look for him. I just thought to reach out in case bc I feel bad for the guy. Please text me if so.  :) thank you and hope I’m not coming across as a crazy person. Marla”

Patricia, a fellow bird rescuer and the Budgie Coordinator for Mickaboo, had forwarded this to me an hour earlier. My heart sunk at the low probability of being able to mobilize a successful rescue for this bird but I had to try. I sent out some emails and posted to social media in the hopes of finding someone willing to fight rush hour traffic and search an airport parking lot for an injured pigeon.

I went on to my next appointment and afterwards, with no one yet looking for the pigeon, started making phone calls to give it one last try. When I reached Josette (another dual Mickaboo and Palomacy volunteer) at 8:26 PM, she immediately said yes, she’d go. All the information I had to offer was: “It is in daily parking lot across from the post E4, under the monorail track. There is a huge black pickup truck sticking out, he is there…alert, just appears to have injured legs.” And the heartbreaking photo.

I didn’t hear back from Josette until 10:22. (I was about ready to send out a rescue party for her.) After more than half an hour of searching, she had against all odds, found the injured pigeon. The bird had dragged herself (using her wings) yards away and was crouched under the curve of a car’s tire. My heart soared! Josette had made the impossible happen. She had dropped everything and headed out into the night to try and help an injured bird. And she had found her! I couldn’t believe that we had actually pulled it off and been able to save this poor, stranded pigeon.

Josie- grateful to be helped

Josie- grateful for some comfort and care

Josie, as this miracle bird is now named, is a one year old survivor of the cruel “sport” of pigeon racing. At least we are hoping she will survive. She was brought here to the Bay Area, hundreds of miles from her home in Reno, NV, and “tossed” with thousands of other racing pigeons to try and find her way home fast enough to win. (Learn more about pigeon racing.)

Instead she was severely injured, likely from colliding with a high tension wire, and has spinal trauma and impaired motor control, a large open wound exposing most of her keel and breast muscle, a broken leg, is emaciated, septic and shocky. Dr. Sanders of Wildwood Veterinary took her home with him to provide the care she needs through the weekend. We have seen badly injured birds make incredible recoveries. (See Ava’s amazing recovery.) We are not going to give up on Josie. She’s alert, eating and clearly thankful to be safe and more comfortable. Pigeons are so smart. I can’t imagine how miserable she must have felt grounded and helpless in that parking lot with no hope in sight. No matter what happens, I am so grateful to be a part of a community that was able to rescue this fellow being from such a terrible fate and to give her the chance to live.

Emaciated and then badly injured

Emaciated and then badly injured

I have since learned more about Josie’s story from Marla, the person who initially found Josie. She writes,

“To shed some light on the story – I thought she was a feral pigeon. I actually still know nothing about pigeons, so am assuming a racing pigeon is different than a wild one? Anyway, I spotted her on the ground as I was driving around looking for a parking spot and immediately decided I would check it out after I parked. I was really devastated when I saw her, and especially because I couldn’t take her home myself… I had a business flight which I absolutely couldn’t miss. First I gave her some food, which you see in the picture (I work for an organic food company, so had one of our apple carrot chickpea bars in my purse).  

After I stayed with her for about 10 mins, when I walked away she totally scooted after me which tugged my heart strings for sure!

I first looked on the MickaCoo/Palomacy website actually (I used to volunteer with Mickaboo so knew about MickaCoo) but read in the FAQs that they only accept domestic pigeons.  Thinking she was wild, I saw the reference to WildCare so called. Normally they have volunteers that can do onsite rescue – however, they told me the volunteers weren’t available that afternoon. I then called a few friends and asked for their help and they weren’t available. Finally, and by then totally distraught sitting on the plane, I emailed Patricia who I knew from Mickaboo, who forwarded everything to you. From my perspective, it was unbelievable that after my flight landed I get a call from Josette, telling me she was going to get the bird! So incredible. After I gave her directions, she even called me from the parking lot and I was able to talk her to where Josie was previously. And of course, just amazing that she found her across the lane from where originally spotted!”

March 16, 2015 UPDATE: I’m very sorry to report that after initially showing a little improvement, Josie died sometime last night, despite the best efforts of Dr. Sanders and all involved in trying to save her. She didn’t die alone in that parking lot though. Thank you for all of your support. Thank you for your compassion.

Author’s note about pigeon racing: Pigeon racing hobbyists strive to selectively breed or purchase champions. They control every aspect of care in an effort to increase their chances of winning. Pigeon racers then release millions of domestic racing pigeons, hundreds of miles from their homes, in competitions most of the birds won’t survive. The birds aren’t racing at all. They are just flying their hearts out, trying to get back to their home. A great many never will. They will die trying. Pigeon racers will tell you the birds that don’t make it home join up with flocks of feral Rock Pigeons. A very, very few do. Check every pigeon flock you see for banded birds. (Racing pigeons are banded.) You’ll rarely ever see one. Pigeon racers will tell you that feral pigeons die too. Yes. We all die. But Pigeon racers need to take responsibility for the needless suffering and deaths caused by their hobby. (The hobbyists actually kill lots of their own birds- culling the “inferior” or weak or ill. Read The Secret of the Champions.) Josie didn’t want to be taken hundreds of miles away and “tossed” to try and get home for someone’s amusement. She should have never been having to fight for her life. She should never have been stranded and crippled in a parking lot hundreds of miles from home. And yet she was one of the lucky ones. Most of these birds will die alone and without help. Don’t breed animals and use them for your amusement. Don’t risk their lives for your fun. And, if you do, at least own it. Say yes, I know racing kills pigeons but I like it and I do it anyway. 

Not only racing kills pigeons, the racers do too.

Not only racing kills pigeons, the racers do too.

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March 17, 2015
by Elizabeth
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The Beauty in the Birds

On a chill night, I put three pigeons in my car and headed east from San Francisco to an Oakland photo studio. Palomacy volunteer Jill did the same except traveling west from her home in Sunol. We met at Nuena Photography where award-winning, Best in the Bay photographer Kira Stackhouse was donating a professional photo shoot for six of our foster birds.

Kira helps rescues throughout the Bay Area

Kira helps rescues throughout the Bay Area

We are thrilled to have these exquisite pictures. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Indy

Indy

Dylan

Dylan

Jacob

Jacob

Hester

Hester

Sam & Slick

Sam & Slick

Aurora

Aurora

Aurora & Jill

Aurora & Jill

Elizabeth & Dylan

Elizabeth & Dylan

We are so grateful to Kira for her incredible talent and generosity. Her photos help us to show the beauty of these birds. They are fellow beings. They want to live. They are worthy of our compassion. See these and many other birds we have available for adoption.

Dylan

Dylan

The Photo Shoot

The Photo Shoot

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March 17, 2015
by Elizabeth
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Palomacy Gets the Craig Newmark Bump

Thank you Craig for including the pigeons & doves amongst the great many you help!
Web pioneer, activist & philanthropist Craig Newmark has not only donated generously in support of Palomacy, but on March 5th, he gave us the gift of his time and media reach. I was invited to bring some birds to visit and to take lots of photos for sharing to help spread the word about domestic pigeons and doves in need of homes.

The Newmarks have our Palomacy calendar hanging in their home!

The Newmarks have our Palomacy calendar hanging in their home!

Craig with Amelio on his shoulder, Pat in his arms

Craig’s got Amelio on his shoulder, Pat in his arms

We got a selfie with Craig!

We got a selfie with Craig!

Craig on his deck with Amelio and a hungry visitor

Craig on his deck with Amelio and a friendly visitor

Here's the perfect place on Craig's deck for the aviary he needs!

Here’s the perfect place on Craig’s deck for the aviary he needs!

Pat & Amelio chilling while Craig meets Bell

Pat & Amelio chilling while Craig meets Bell

Craig is inexperienced handling birds but he's got a wonderful way with them

Craig is inexperienced in handling birds but he’s wonderful with them

Craig bought a Palomacy shirt!

Craig bought a Palomacy shirt!

You can get a Palomacy shirt too!

Pat really wanted to meet Mrs. Newmark!

Pat really wanted to meet Mrs. Newmark!

Bell did fantastic on her very first meet & greet ever!

It’s fun to make friends with birds

Doing well by doing good

Thank you Craig for including the pigeons & doves amongst the great many you help!

(http://craigconnects.org/2015/03/when-i-got-my-philanthropic-act-together.html)

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March 11, 2015
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

Little Bell’s Big Recovery

Much improved Bell the Ringneck Dove

Bell 3/11/15

Little Ringneck Dove Bell (along with her healthy mate Reed) came in to our care in December with a big problem- torticollis (a neurological movement disorder characterized by a twisted neck and tilted head) so severe that it triggered violent tumbling panic attacks resembling seizures. Her terrible fits battered and bruised her little body, breaking feathers, abrading skin, exhausting her, threatening her future. She needed very special care to help reduce the fits and support her long recovery. (See Little Bell’s Big Problem)

Luckily, Palomacy supporter Carole, a life-long rescuer in town for an extended stay, was willing and able to take on Bell’s extremely challenging care. Because Carole is from Ireland, we call her Bell and Reed’s foster mum.

Carole bravely took on a very nerve-wracking responsibility. Despite pain meds and antibiotics, Bell’s tumbling fits were, in the beginning, almost uncontrollable. Between them, she would eat or rest, but we never knew when another one would start and they were terrible. Such a fragile little bird- whirling and banging herself silly no matter how thickly we padded her area.

Carole was very creative in crafting ways to swaddle, soothe and protect Bell.

Bell comfy and close to foster mum in her roposo

Bell comfy and close to foster mum in her roposo

Bell snuggled in sweater sleeve

Bell swaddled in a sweater sleeve 12/23/14

The floor of her crate was raised to make it cozier and the interior was padded and draped with soft, breathable fabrics to provide dark, quiet sanctuary. (Open space worsened her disorientation and increased panic attacks.)

Carole hand feeding Bell

Foster mum Carole nourished Bell in many ways

And Bell was (and still is) so clever about self-sequestering when she needed to steady herself. She’d go back into the depths of the draped cloths to get peace from the panic attacks and come out to the slightly more open front when she felt well enough.

Bell in draped fabric

Bell choosing to only semi-self-sequester

Carole worked with Bell to help her get exercise and enrichment and she did a sort of “dove occupational therapy” so that Bell could remaster her neurological system and create new, healthier-functioning pathways in her tortured little brain.

Foster mum Carole protecting Bell during her out time

Foster mum Carole keeps a hand close in case a fit should strike

Reed & Bell eating together on the floor

Reed & Bell share a meal & some time together

Bell getting special food in foster mum's lap

Carole supplemented Bell’s diet for maximum nutrition

Reed eating kasha 23dec (1 of 1)

Bell’s (healthy) mate Reed eating kasha

And while Carole nursed frail Bell, she also helped lonesome Reed to get through a very stressful time. She befriended him (he wasn’t tame when he came in) and soothed his broken heart. He had to be housed separately from Bell (her fits scared him and he could sometimes be aggressive) but he was always near her.

Bell in her crate with Reed perched on top

Reed staying close to his Bell

And Carole became an important new friend for him, and he for her.

Reed the dove happily perched on Carole's hand

Foster mum Carole with Reed

When it came time for foster mum Carole to return to Ireland at the end of January, I took Bell and Reed back in to my foster care. Bell had very slowly but very surely improved and I was really worried that the transition and/or loss of Carole’s special care could set her back.

Bell in her special crate 1/30/15

Bell in her specially modified crate 1/30/15

Bell visiting Reed in his cage and sharing a snack of millet on 1/30/15 .

Bell, markedly improved, having another visit with Reed on 2/7/15.

Intrepid little Bell did great though. She adjusted to the new routine and company without a hitch and she is still improving. Even today, 3/11/15, she is better than she was yesterday.

Bell wrapped in Carole's wool scarf

Bell 2/5/15, wrapped in what I call Carole’s magic scarf

Dr. Olsen smiling with Bell

Dr. Olsen thrilled with Bell’s improvement 2/10/15

Bell sunbathing and looking great

Bell so improved she can sunbathe & live in an near-normal cage 2/20/15

Bell preening lots of new flight feathers

Less tumbling means new feathers breaking less 2/27/15

Bell’s condition is continuously improving and her life is expanding as it does.

Healthy dove Reed flirts with steadily improving dove Bell

Reed on a date with his still-recovering Bell 3/1/15

Dove Bell enjoying the sun with pigeon Jacob and dove Reed

3/3/15 Bell is well enough to enjoy some walk-about time with Jacob & Reed

Pat Bell Craig Newmark Amelio 030515

Bell joins Pat & Amelio on her first outreach meeting Craig Newmark 3/5/15

Bell gets lots of Likes on our Facebook page

Bell has a loyal following of loving fans on our Facebook page

Bell with head twisted in torticollis posture

Bell’s torticollis is not completely cured & she still tumbles once in awhile

Sleepy Reed settled in

Reed is patiently waiting for Bell to recover so they can be together

Bell looking beautiful and alert

Bell today, 3/11/15, looking forward to a bright future

We don’t know what caused Bell’s terrible torticollis. We can rule out a tumor because that would have gotten worse rather than better. Some think PMV but she’s never had the impaired motor control or palsy that is typically seen with that so I’m not convinced. Whatever caused Bell’s condition, it has left Reed completely unscathed. We hope that someday soon, they can move back in together, resume their romance and put this long ordeal behind them. Thank you all for helping us help Bell and Reed and all the other little birds. They want to live.

Please make a donation in support of our work if you can. 

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March 11, 2015
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

Leroy’s Story- Guest Post by Cathy W.

Leroy Jenkins Taking a Bath

Leroy Jenkins Takes a Bath

Leroy Jenkins came into my life in November of 2014.  I found him huddled in a corner at my office complex, unable to fly, miles away from food or water and alarmingly vulnerable to some of the busiest traffic in the Dallas area.  Thinking perhaps he was hurt and just needed some rest and attention, I scooped him up and placed him in a cardboard box until I could get him home. Looking at him, it was evident that he was missing a huge amount of tail feathers and some wing feathers. I thought I’d keep him safe, let his feathers grow back and release him back into the wild. Apparently though Leroy had other ideas.

Even on the first day in my office, I noticed how remarkably tolerant he was.  Far from being indignant at being placed in a large cardboard box (all I had handy at the office), he struck me as terribly calm, politely pecking at the bread and water I gave him.  I took him home and offered him a mixture of finch and wild bird seed and housed him in a wire dog crate while he recovered. I built him a little wooden hut and he would dash in there when he felt the need to retreat from the world.  The days passed and he did very well.  But he grew more and more interested in us-he would coo and trill at my husband and me and scamper to the edge of his makeshift cage and make noises at the dogs.  (Which I found very worrisome-he seemingly had very little idea of self preservation.)

Finally his feathers grew back in and I let him loose in a spare room to see how the flying was coming along thinking he would go back into the wild if his flying had improved. He promptly landed on my head and started preening himself.

Pigeon Leroy perched on top of Cathy's head

Leroy Makes Himself at Home

Finally the hints all came together and I realized that this bird was very tame. Completely at a loss, I googled “pigeon rescue”, discovered Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions and sent off an email explaining his behavior and situation. Very quickly, Elizabeth replied and confirmed my suspicions. While she and I both believe that wild birds should not be pets, Leroy had indicated in many ways that he was no longer wild and completely unsuited for survival outside. I have no idea who had him before and what brought him to my office building that day but he was obviously around humans a great deal in the past. Elizabeth was instrumental in steering me in the right direction with cage suggestions and diet suggestions and he continues to thrive. And while I never thought about having a pigeon as a pet, he’s become a charming member of our family and just graduated to a “two story condo” consisting of his original dog crate and a taller cage made of Rubbermaid linen shelving material and zip ties of all things. But it’s sturdy and secure and we can always expand it or change the configuration.   (Luckily my husband is not only good hearted but he’s also very handy.)  This delightful bird has found his forever home and he and I both thank Elizabeth for her guidance and knowledge!

Leroy explores his expanded cage

     Extra large dog kennel with closet size extension cage added on

Leroy on the high perch enjoying the view

Cathy- thank YOU for opening your heart and home to Leroy Jenkins.  Elizabeth

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February 26, 2015
by Elizabeth
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Dress for (Pigeon) Success!

Jill

Palomacy- It’s Pigeon Diplomacy

Becoming Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions has been an awesome experience. We hatched in 2007 nestled under the loving wings of Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue and we will always cherish our first years as MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue (and we’ll always be MickaCoogars!) but it has been invigorating to transition from our accidental (and very reluctant) past into a new and chosen future. One of the fun discoveries I’ve had is how nice it is to see others dressed for (pigeon) success in our Palomacy shirts!

Compassion is beautiful!

A cool company called BonfireFunds that helps nonprofits sell shirts and raise funds is handling the production and distribution for us and we have been having a great time with our Palomacy shirt campaigns! Our first launch lasted for 2 weeks. We blew through our minimum goal of 50 shirts to sell 108 and we raised $1106 for bird rescue!

Palomacy Shirts

Then, by popular demand, we’ve re-launched with a second and now a third shirt sale campaign! We’ve sold 36 more shirts and raised an additional $335 so far!

Right now, you’ve got only two more days to order your Palomacy shirts (there are five styles to choose from). This sale ends Saturday, Feb 28th at 9 PM PST. So don’t wait! Order your Palomacy shirts right now. You’ll be helping the birds and looking great while you do it!

Palomacy shirts- what everbirdy cool is wearing

Palomacy shirts- what everbirdy cool is wearing

Campaign #3
If you’d like to know more about how BonfireFunds works, I’d be happy to tell you about our experience. I highly recommend them as a way to raise awareness and funds for your cause while also rewarding your supporters with a great shirt. Their customer service has been excellent, the shirts are great and their prices competitive. We are earning an average of $7 for each shirt sold. There’s also a referral program so if you want to do this and use our referral code, we’ll earn an extra $100. (But I’d recommend them even without that incentive.) For more info, contact Elizabeth.

Elizabeth & Hester

Elizabeth & Hester say Hi!

Check out Commander Holly’s Help a Birb, Buy a Shirt video!

THANK YOU to everybirdy for all of your support of this special work that we are doing! And please send us your Palomacy shirt selfies!

Jill

Palomacy- It’s Pigeon Diplomacy

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February 26, 2015
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

Pet Pigeons Have a House, Need a Home!

Ajax is a lucky bird

Ajax, a dark-eyed King pigeon beauty with stunning black, white and grey plumage, has come a long way. She was found, at only 4 weeks old, near death in Alameda, CA in early November. Thankfully, she was rescued by Debbie, a kind person who took her home and nursed her back to life. When Debbie reached out to us for help, we were too full to take Ajax into our program but we coached Debbie on how to care for her. Debbie, though she had never intended to take on responsibility for a pigeon, did an awesome job and Ajax has flourished in her care.

Ajax is confident

Proud Ajax

Debbie, though unable to offer Ajax a forever home, has gone above and beyond to ensure that, while in her care, Ajax has a great life. She purchased and enlarged a fantastic Doc Woody aviary to be Ajax’s house, she provides daily out-of-cage time and then, so Ajax wouldn’t be lonely, she took on another pigeon to foster- King/Carneau cross Theo who, after more than three months at SFACC, needed to be rescued.

Debbie & Ajax met bachelor Jax at SFACC too

Debbie & Ajax met bachelor Jax at SFACC too

Theo, one month older than Ajax, was also found at the age of only 4 weeks old. He too was lotto-winning-lucky to have been found by a nice person before a hungry predator ate him. Theo loved Ajax right away and courted her in all his best young man pigeon ways.

Theo strutting after young lady pigeon Ajax

Theo says, Hey there pretty lady!

Young man pigeon Theo trails Ajax

Hey, what’s your name?

Bath time fun

Ajax & Theo having bath time fun

Now Ajax & Theo are bonded, healthy, strong young adults. They are bi-cultural (pigeon & human) and will make an ideal pair of pigeon pets. They have each other and they have an awesome house, but they need a home! (Note- Theo’s feathers went from lots of brown to mostly white when he molted but he still has the striking golden eyes characteristic of Carneau pigeons.)

Adopt Ajax & Theo

Childhood sweethearts Ajax & Theo

One of the biggest challenges to adopting pigeons is providing the right housing. Most bird cages are either too small for the birds or too big for the people. Many “coops” sold for chickens and rabbits aren’t safe for use outside without modifications to make them rodent & predator-proof. But Ajax & Theo come with their own awesome home! It is a very attractive mini-aviary suitable for use indoors or outside. (Note- They need safe out of cage time for exercise and enrichment but that’s easy to provide, especially with pigeon pants).  It’s 3′ x 4′ x 5′ and an ideal enclosure for a pair of pet pigeons. Debbie will include this great aviary and its furnishings at no charge provided Ajax & Theo’s adopters make a donation to Palomacy (which in turn help us to keep helping the birds!).

Ajax & Theo's awesome house

Ajax & Theo’s awesome house

As much as Debbie would love to keep Ajax & Theo forever, she can’t. They need a home. But, thanks to her incredible devotion to these lucky foundlings, they have everything they need… except you. This is a fantastic opportunity for those of you who have wanted to have pet pigeons but were daunted by the housing challenge. (We love this aviary so much that we are hoping Debbie will help us to craft another and include a How To video and instructions.)

Pigeons make awesome pets! You can read more about life with pet pigeons here and you can apply to adopt here.

Ajax & Theo look forward to filling your life with the special happiness that only pet pigeons bring.

Every day is special when you have pigeons

Every day is special when you have pigeons

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February 25, 2015
by Elizabeth
5 Comments

Thank You, Craig!

Craig loves birds

Craig, founder of craigslist, loves birds

I am so happy to tell you that we are the proud recipients of a $10,000 grant from the craigslist Charitable Fund!

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 12.40.14 PM

This grant helps us so much! Every month, despite the generous support of our donors and our extreme frugality, we teeter on the edge of being in the red. Every bird we help requires a tremendous leap of faith because we never have money in the bank… we struggle with financial insecurity as a constant threat to the work that we do.

And we are doing very important work! We are the only rescue in Northern California dedicated to helping domestic pigeons and doves. We may be the only one in the country! The work that we are doing is so unprecedented that we had to create a new word for it- palomacy.

We struggle every day to keep up with all that needs doing. We care for 100 pigeons and doves in our foster homes; we respond to the constant requests to help at-risk birds in shelters and found as strays; we counsel people with birds on how to care for them, keep them, do right by them… We work to promote awareness about homeless birds; to develop and coordinate adoptions; to provide humane education about these most common and yet completely misunderstood birds; to inspire compassion. And, while doing all of that, we have to fundraise too.

I asked Craig for a few words about why he chooses to support Palomacy so generously and he said, “I’d like to say that I love pigeons and doves, they’re plucky survivors, and after all, they’re God’s creatures. Plus, they dance well, and help feed our hawks…. and I need some way to be a little eccentric.”

So a grant like this- our largest ever – is extremely wonderful news! One of our volunteers asked what if any special plans I had for this grant. I said, Yes, I plan to exhale!

You can see more about Craig’s support for our work here.

Thank you, Craig & craigslist Charitable Fund!

Thank you, Craig & craigslist Charitable Fund!

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February 9, 2015
by Elizabeth
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Jimmy- Feral Ringneck Dove with Head Trauma

Jimmy 1/30/15

Jimmy Friday 1/30/15

On Friday, January 30th, animal lover and Palomacy supporter Charlene found a dove grounded and helpless in the gutter. His panic at being handled and the flocks of feral Ringnecks living wild in the area suggest he was living free rather than anyone’s pet. That evening his cocked head turned into full blown torticollis (a neurological movement disorder characterized by a twisted neck) that frightened Charlene who rushed him to me. (We are overfull and I was trying to find an alternate placement but accepted him when his condition turned critical.)

Charlene rescued Jimmy

Charlene rescued Jimmy

He has a scrape on his chest and another on his head from some violent impact (no punctures found). I started him on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory.

Jimmy Friday night

Jimmy Friday night

There are many potential causes of torticollis including brain trauma, poisoning, spinal damage, vitamin deficiency, viruses, bacterial infection, tumors, etc. but in Jimmy’s case, I think he is suffering from brain trauma that has been exacerbated by a stroke.

He was in better condition on Saturday, January 31st, able to self-feed and with mostly normal posture. Sunday, February 1st was good too.

IMG_6654

1/31/15

Self-feeding 1/31/15

2/1/15

On Monday, February 2, his condition took a sharp turn for the worse. I think maybe a blood clot broke loose and caused a stroke.

IMG_6758

2/2/15

He had a bad day on Tuesday, February 3 and another on Wednesday. He couldn’t stand properly and didn’t even try to self-feed. He spooked frequently. I supported him with tube-feeding. He fears handling and struggled pathetically, unable to control his body movements.

2/3/15

2/3/15

Wednesday night, for the first time, it occurred to me that the only mercy I might be able to offer Jimmy could turn out to be euthanasia. He was fearful, panic-prone, inconsolable, helpless, unable to eat. While Bell, another dove with severe neurological problems, finds joy every day, Jimmy appeared to me to be suffering. We have rescued more than 600 birds and only euthanized four. It is, to me, truly a last resort, saved for when a bird has no hope for improvement or relief. We have cared for many very seriously compromised birds- we prioritize helping those most ill and injured. Some have made incredible recoveries. Some have died in our or our vets’ care. If we can keep a bird comfortable, we provide hospice rather than euthanasia but, in the rare case we cannot comfort or ease the suffering of a bird, we have them euthanized. (See the story of Joy’s Death.)

On Thursday, February 5th, Jimmy resumed trying to self-feed- a sign that perhaps there was hope for him.

Friday, February 6th

IMG_7016

2/7/15

IMG_7175

2/8/15

Today is Monday, February 9th. Jimmy’s condition seems worse because, over the past couple of days, he makes pretty much no effort to self-feed. But today, for the first time in a while, he can stand (though his head rests on the floor of his crate) and so perhaps that is an improvement… He seems less panicky but I’m not sure if that is because my efforts to soothe and reassure him are working or if it is a sign of increasing weakness. He seems to be coping for the moment and if he wants time, I’ll gladly give that to him.

Standing 2/9/15

Standing 2/9/15

We’re seeing the doctors at Medical Center for Birds tomorrow. On the positive side, his GI system is working great and so far his respiratory system remains healthy (always a worry with a neurologically impaired, sedentary and/or tube-fed bird). We’re taking things one day at a time and I’m doing my best to keep him as comfortable as I can. We have seen amazing recoveries… I’m not yet sure what the future holds for Jimmy. Just know that he is loved.

IMG_7274

Bundled safe while I fix his breakfast

IMG_7279

My pet dove Lily checks our patient

IMG_7294

Jimmy 2/9/15

UPDATE February 11, 2015

Jimmy’s condition started to slip on the evening of Monday 2/9.

Monday Evening 2/9/15

Monday Evening 2/9/15

By morning, his digestion was slow, his breathing starting to labor and his unblinking eyes were losing moistness. Late morning, he vomited and I knew he wasn’t going to recover.

Tuesday Morning 2/10/15

Tuesday Morning 2/10/15

We had a 2:30 appointment for him in Oakley at Medical Center for Birds that day but by 12:30, it was clear that he was uncomfortable and needed immediate relief. I dropped everything and rushed him to All Pets Hospital where he was euthanized. It is very difficult sometimes to know when death will be the greatest kindness. I never want to quit on a bird too early but they suffer if you wait too long. I wish I had the ability to euthanize at home. Jimmy’s last hour was one too many.

People from all over the world expressed their support for him on our Facebook page. He was loved. He is missed.

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Please make a donation in support of our work if you can. Palomacy is the only rescue devoted to helping domestic (unreleasable) pigeons and doves in Northern California.

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February 9, 2015
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

Aubrey & Hedwig- Guest Post by Sarah Wilson

Aubrey 010515 cropped

Aubrey

When I first found Aubrey, she was shivering, hungry and scared, trapped by some neighbors beneath a laundry basket. It was a warm Wednesday evening in Downtown Los Angeles and my roommate and I were on our way to pick up a few groceries at the store below our apartment complex when we came across them all in the hallway. When I asked them what was going on they told me that the bird had been hopping around up and down the hallway all day and nobody knew where it came from. From the way it allowed them to approach it and the band around its ankle they assumed it was domestic and caught it in hopes of contacting its owner. With that, my neighbors lost their inclination to help and went on with their evenings. Seeing how helpless the bird looked, I knew I couldn’t leave her in the hallway to starve so I scooped her up and took her home to my apartment, naming her Aubrey. After speaking to several animal rescues and doing a little online research, I knew Aubrey’s options were limited and I decided to adopt my first ever pigeon.

My three roommates were less than thrilled at the idea of keeping a pigeon inside the apartment at first, even a little grossed out. All of them had previously come from large cities, like Chicago, and considered them dirty. However, After living with Aubrey for a few days, one by one they began to fall for her charm. We let Aubrey have free reign of the living room and kitchen area during the day as there was usually always someone home to keep an eye on her. She quickly adapted to the rules of the house and even found a favorite lamp to perch on next to the window where she could enjoy her 8th floor view. For the next several months, Aubrey enjoyed her days looking at her reflection in mirrors, preening her feathers, bathing, and snacking on seeds. I quickly grew very attached to Aubrey and slowly gained her trust and affection.

Unfortunately, that January we were all to start our first semester at USC and I knew i would now be able to dedicate as much time to Aubrey as she needed. Thankfully, my family agreed to take care of Aubrey while I’m busy with school and even suggested adopting a second pigeon as a mate to keep her from getting lonely. After emailing back and forth with Elizabeth from Palomacy, we arranged to bring Aubrey to SF Animal Care and Control to meet with two other bachelor pigeons. There, she took a liking to a Birmingham roller named Hedwig, who we took home that very day. At first Aubrey seemed a little unsure but after a few days of being together I discovered Aubrey and Hedwig preening each others feathers and knew that they had bonded.

Aubrey's loving family

Aubrey’s loving family

Aubrey and Hedwig now live happy lives in my family’s home in the Bay Area where my mother and sisters take care of them. Although I miss Aubrey’s company here in LA, I know she’s living a much happier, spacious life and is waiting for me when I come home for break! Until meeting Aubrey, I never would have considered a bird for a pet or discovered how intelligent, and lovable a pigeon could be! They are beautiful, peaceful animals that have been unfairly stigmatized and deserve a shot at loving homes.

Aubrey & Hedwig

Aubrey & Hedwig

Hedwig & Aubrey

Hedwig & Aubrey

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