November 28, 2016
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Charlie Girl

Ashley Kinney of the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center & Charlie

Ashley Kinney, Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley with Charlie

On July 28th, two wild, unreleasable pigeons came in to Palomacy’s care via the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.

Charlie had been found as an orphaned fledgling and surrendered a couple weeks earlier. A couple of days after Charlie arrived, fledgling Pirate, with his obvious head trauma and bashed in eye, was brought in. It wasn’t until then, when the fledglings were housed together, that Charlie’s blindness was recognized.

Blind pigeon looking intently at the viewer

Charlie

Pirate the pigeon

Pirate

The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley counts pigeons amongst the many creatures they help

The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley counts pigeons amongst the many creatures they help

Charlie and Pirate comforted each other as fledgling pigeons always do and it was thought the childhood sweethearts might grow into a married couple but, as they matured, one-eyed Pirate grew impatient with blind Charlie. She couldn’t see his cues and appreciate his displays. They had to be housed separately. When Palomacy took them in, Pirate moved into my foster aviary and Charlie into her own cage in the special needs bird room. Charlie’s inability to respond to the constant visual cues pigeons exchange makes her strange to other birds and a target of bullying. She needs to be in a safe environment. And, she’ll need a very gentle, patient mate who will see her for who she really is. We haven’t found him yet, but we will.

charlie-pirate-080516-img_6949

Pirate & Charlie share a quiet moment

Special birds JJ, Bug & Charlie hanging out in the bird room (with my dog Ruby)

Special birds JJ, Bug & Charlie hanging out in the bird room (with my dog Ruby)

In the meantime, Charlie savors life. She is an inspiration. She loves to soak in a bathtub, bask in the sun, shower in the rain, flap her wings with joy, amaze people with her serenity at loud, hectic outreach events (she is an amazing ambassador!), snuggle in loving arms and fiercly attack the ears of too-chatty humans.

Anne & Charlie

Anne & Charlie

Little girl petting pigeon

Making new friends

Laughing person with pigeon on her shoulder

Charlie’s pecks make Jill crack up

During the day, she hangs out in the gentle-enough-for-now Littles’ aviary. The other pigeons housed there haven’t really befriended her but they don’t bother her either. She hangs out listening to the world turn around her and at dusk I bring her indoors to her own cage.

Charlie spends the day with a gentle flock

Charlie spends the day with a gentle flock

charlie-rebel-goose-102716

Charlie (far right) with the Littles flock

Family meeting Charlie

Charlie making new friends

Once back in her own cage in the bird room, Charlie can totally relax and not have to worry about anything unexpected. She’s in charge of everything in her cage, where everything is always in the same place and nobody else ever gets in the way. Then, in the morning, she commutes back outside to the aviary for her day with the flock.

Charlie in her private space

Charlie in her private space

Sighted pigeons choose each seed they eat deliberately and eat all their favorites first (usually safflower) and then all their second favorites, etc. but since Charlie can’t see, she doesn’t have that luxury. So, in addition to her regular food bowl which has pigeon feed made up of many seed types, I gave her a special little food bowl that I periodically fill up with treat seeds only (usually safflower) so that she can have the fun of “choosing” and always getting a favorite seed.

Pirate has grown up in to a beautiful bird and while he and Charlie grew apart, he is currently courting a very lovely self-rescuer named July in a foster-to-adopt home.

Handsome Pirate the Pigeon Man

Handsome Pirate the Pigeon Man

Meanwhile, Charlie is content. She trusts that the future holds good things for her. She’ll do best in a home as an indoor pet pigeon. She needs a little time to learn her way around her environment but she’s very clever and once she does, she gets around great. Ideally, her people will chaperone her through a courtship with a gentle male (we’ll help with all that) so that she can eventually have the best of both worlds- people and pigeon. (Apply here to foster or adopt Charlie.) I love all her endearing ways and so when I took this little video of her being cute and sleepy and beak-smacky, I almost didn’t post it but I’m glad I did. She nearly broke Instagram with all the views and shares she got! Clearly I’m not the only one who sees her charms.

One of Charlie’s very special friends, Ellie, writes,

Charlie sleeps indoors in a house of her own where she knows the location of her food, water, furniture. On most days (when she’s not at an outreach), she visits with the “smalls” in the outdoor aviary, listening to the world around her, basking in the sun, and feeling the fresh air. Sometimes she seems to be paying attention to something only she can detect. Perhaps she can “see” something (with her UV sight), or hear something (with her infrasound hearing) that we cannot. She is a content bird. Charlie knows her name and loves people, preferring to perch on shoulders or a head, like a quiet parrot. Charlie is our zen pigeon, accepting her life and yet living it on her terms too. Charlie is calm, capable, happy, in spite of her challenges. She wants what everyone wants – a place of love.

Ellie & Charlie at the Oakland Fall Plant Exchange 10/8/16

Ellie & Charlie at the Oakland Fall Plant Exchange 10/8/16

Palomacy is here for Charlie (and all the other birds who have no place to go), we are that place of love, because of you. I can draw a direct line from your support to Charlie’s life. Without you, Charlie wouldn’t be here. Palomacy wouldn’t be here. We are so grateful to you. Thank you for making Palomacy possible.

beautiful pigeon

Charlie thanks you for giving her the gift of life

Share

November 22, 2016
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

How a Little Pigeon Built a Big Aviary

Guest Post by Chris Arvanitis

A man with his rescued pet pigeon on his shoulder

Chris & Peteybyrd

On a warm spring afternoon, a little pigeon suddenly appeared on the edge of the roof above our deck.  He was strutting and cooing as he peered down at us.  We have many wild doves in our neighborhood, but have never seen a pigeon around here before.  It was not long before he came down off the roof and was walking along the deck railing, coming closer and closer to us.  We were obviously intrigued by this curious little guy.  He had no bands on his legs and appeared to be a wild bird.  We did a quick internet search as we knew nothing about caring for pigeons. We provided him some water in case he was thirsty.  We had never seen a pigeon be so friendly with people before and came to the conclusion he was likely raised by humans, lost and tired.  He continued to hang out on our deck for another hour or so and then disappeared for the night.  We figured he had left, continued on his way and found a place to roost for the night.  Early the next morning however, he was back on the deck, strutting and cooing again, now wanting to come in the house with us.  We had to head off to work that morning so we left him some food and water on the deck, assuming that he may move on that day.  That afternoon when we got back, he was still there.  At this point we figured he has probably adopted us for his new home.  We still were ignorant about him surviving in the wild as he seemed to do well for himself.  We built him a little shelter on our deck (which we later determined would be very unsafe for him) and he took right to it, somehow knowing it was made just for him.  He slept in there every night, still being able to fly free wherever and whenever he wanted.  We started to become quite attached to him; he was very affectionate, especially to my wife, and had a special personality.  We loved having him around as we never would have thought we would be friends with a pigeon.  He was always there each night, sometimes waiting for us when we arrived home, sometimes later just before sunset, he would appear.  Soon he moved into my garage and workshop and he could come and go through an opening we provided for him.  We worried about his safety as we had seen him pursued by hawks in the past, but he seemed to be pretty savvy.

image1

Petey in the workshop

Then, one night, he did not return.  We were worried, but he had spent the night away from home in the past.  Six days went by, still, he had not returned.  We were devastated, fearing the worst.  Thinking we would never see him again, I went out on the deck after dark hoping to see him as I had done for the past week, and there he was!  Sitting in the little house we had built him when he first came to us.  He was exhausted, emaciated, and covered in this sticky goo all over with pine needles and loose feathers stuck on him.  We secured him in the garage; he drank a lot of water and ate, went to sleep and was very quiet all night.  The next day, he was livelier, but did not know what this goo was until we tried to clean it.  At first we thought it was pine tree sap, but it turned out to be from a glue trap!  We felt so guilty and awful about what he must have been going through for six nights, likely only yards away from our home.  We don’t know if someone freed him, or he managed to get loose himself, but he could barely fly with all the goo, one wing stuck to his body.  Somehow he managed to survive with no water and food, likely because we overfed him since he first arrived. After getting free of the glue trap, barely being able to fly, he somehow made it home, to a place he must have known he would be helped.  It took numerous mineral oil cleanings and baths in Dawn to remove the glue trap goo. I wish I had known better than to make the mistakes I made when I first encountered Petey, he needed help and was in danger and we should have immediately made him safe. (A lone pigeon, unconnected to a wild flock, is in trouble.)

Bathed pigeon wrapped in a towel in rescuer's arms

Petey recovering from his glue trap ordeal

After a week of rehab, he was feeling back to his old happy self. We kept him in our garage from then on fearing for his safety, but had a tremendous amount of guilt as he hated to be left alone. We would bring him in the house from time to time and let him fly free outside only when we were home.  Looking for help, that is when I found one of the most special people I have ever encountered, Elizabeth at Palomacy. I sent her a message about our new friend, now named Peteybyrd. She was so helpful in providing advice and guidance regarding Peteybyrd.  We immediately brought Petey into our home permanently, provided him his own room, my office.  In talking with Elizabeth, we decided in order to provide Petey the safest and happiest home we could, we needed to adopt a lady pidge for him.  She put us in touch with a local rescuer in our area, Terry Whatley, another angel for these amazing creatures. A couple of weeks later we purchased a large double flight cage and adopted Penny. At first it was a little difficult, Petey wanted nothing to do with her, still being very attached to my wife. With the incredible guidance and encouragement of Elizabeth and Terry, we were able to have faith that Petey and Penny would hit it off. After a long weekend away, we came home to find them in love. Our hearts melted to see them together.

Married pigeons snuggling in their nest

Penny & Petey

Pigeons are very romantic!

Even after finding our Petey a loving and devoted mate, we still had feelings of guilt that they were confined to the double flight cage and the small home office. We decided to go all out. A large outdoor aviary was soon to come, all due to the inspiration of a little bird that has had a profound effect on our lives. At the time, we were in the process of building a patio and new driveway to our new garage and workshop, so we simply modified our plans slightly, adding a concrete slab for the aviary. I designed the slab to be integral with our patio and driveway. It has a raised curb, sloped floor and built-in drains for easy cleaning.

image5

image6

The aviary Peteybyrd built

It is sized 14 feet long by 8 feet wide and 9 feet tall at the highest point. We built it using pressure treated lumber for framing, bolted to the concrete and all galvanized hardware for durability. The back side is solid with exterior siding and sheltered corners for the nest boxes. The corners provide shear bracing for stability. We used ½ inch galvanized hardware wire mesh attached with galvanized staples. We then covered all framing and mesh seams with 1×3 cedar trim, all stained a dark brown. The roof is solid, made from 5/8 plywood, sloped 15 deg and covered with 40 year roofing shingles, leftover from my garage project. The door is attached with three spring loaded heavy duty hinges so the door can never be accidentally left open. We used two slide bolts, one bottom and one top with locks to keep predators out, although with our two large dogs in our yard, not many animals dare to venture in. Inside there is a built-in work bench for storage of food bins and supplies however the birds prefer to use it as a place to hang out and sleep. There are numerous flat perches all around the interior, a large natural branch that varies from 1-2 inches and a hanging flat perch as Petey really liked sitting on the ceiling fan blades in the garage and this perch kind of simulates that. A couple of pidgie baths finished it off.

We also installed a network video camera so we can check in on them from time to time on the internet when we are not home, a nice amenity for peace of mind. It is very easy to clean, scrape flat surfaces, sweep/vacuum, scrub and rinse all in about 45 min. All in all, we spent under $750.00 to build this aviary. Well worth the expense to provide a safe and happy home for these guys.

The moment of truth, the first day in the aviary, they loved it! They spent all day exploring, hanging out on their new perches, able to have a view of the outdoors and enjoy the daily sunlight.  We actually just rolled the double flight cage right into the aviary as they seemed familiar and comfortable with it.

image7

Nice job, Petey!

But the story doesn’t end there…We needed to adopt more pidgies in need of a home. So we have adopted two more pairs for now, for a total of six. It was a little contentious at first with Petey being a bit upset at these “intruders”, but it settled down and now we have a peaceful, comfortable, safe and happy home for all these little guys who love to play and flirt with each other. Ruffles, Little Red, Flannigan, Oscar, Penny and Petey!  All because one spring day, we were visited by a sweet little pidge named Peteybyrd.  This is Petey’s story and the house that Petey built!

image8

Super Peteybyrd!

me-and-bonnie2Chris and Bonnie Arvanitis have lived in Vista, California, coastal north San Diego County, for 40 years.  Bonnie works as an executive secretary at a local hospital and Chris is an administrator of a condominium retirement community.  They have one daughter, Chrissy and two rescue dogs named Buddy and Bella, both shepherds.  They have always had rescue animals all their life, dedicated to providing a loving home to less fortunate animals. Chris enjoys photography, woodworking and hiking. Bonnie enjoys spending time with her dogs, and now her pigeon Petey, the beach and traveling.

 

Share

November 7, 2016
by Elizabeth
0 comments

Palomacy’s Calendar Photo Contest!

palomacy-2017-calendar-photo-contest-banner

We are very excited to be hosting Palomacy’s first ever calendar photo contest and fundraiser!

Your photo entries and votes support Palomacy and count you among an amazingly caring network of people committed to our culture-changing work. Thank you for helping celebrate these incredible, under-appreciated birds every day of the year! We know how special pigeons and doves are and we are showing the world!

Please vote for your favorites ($1/vote)! Submit your photos ($5/entry)! Share for family and friends to vote! All proceeds will help Palomacy to help more birds. You are literally shaping Palomacy’s future with your support.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-56-10-pm

Built in buttons make it easy to share your entries with your friends and family and invite their votes in support of your beloved birds and Palomacy! It’s easy and fun! Already entered? Find yours here. Ready to get started, it’s easy here.

You can also elight your loved ones- birds or people- by reserving a day in the calendar especially for them.

And you can pre-order Palomacy 2017 Calendars as great gifts for those special bird-lovers in your life.

Together, we are making the world a kinder place- for pigeons and doves and everyone else. Thank you for being ambassadors for compassion. Thank you for supporting Palomacy.

Your help inspires ever-growing appreciation for pigeons and doves and raises life-saving funds for the birds! Please join us in making 2017 a truly wonderful year for these very special birds!

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-50-00-pm
screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-51-30-pm
screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-53-10-pm
screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-52-06-pm
screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-52-45-pm

Enter and vote today! The contest ends 9 PM PT on 11/13/16.

your-bird-here-screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-2-11-36-pm

Thank you! You are making every day a better one with your compassion.

Share

November 7, 2016
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Little Pigeo Finds a Home (Or Pigeo’s Great Adventure!)

Guest Post by Julie Zhang

Two days after a September 11 memorial service at UC Berkeley, a student group posted about a “Miss Birdie” who’d shown up in their office and wandered around looking adorable, but also clearly lost and confused. The bird was probably a “release dove” from the memorial service, they’d concluded, but “cage rent” in Berkeley was too high and this bird was going to be homeless.

Lost little white homing pigeon

Photo from the Student Transfer Center — self-rescuing Pigeo waiting for help outside their office.

At the time I was in class, and as a student of course I was torn between the mandatory attendance policy and this beautiful bird. I turned to my friend for help, and he replied: “Don’t let your dreams be dreams.”

Five minutes later, I found this impossibly adorable pidge sitting by himself in a corner.

pidge2

Pigeo was a little confused as to why the human was so out of breath.

I hadn’t planned on taking him home at all, until I realized that no one was coming to get him, and local authorities (police and Animal Control) either didn’t care or would euthanize. So I called home thirty minutes away and asked if they’d bring our spare birdcage from years ago. “What for?” they asked. Nothing, Mom, there’s just this bird who’s stranded and I’m taking him home. No, don’t worry, he’s super cute and he’d be homeless if we just left him there!

Another concerned student reached out to me, and told me about Palomacy. I sent a message, and Elizabeth replied immediately and was wonderful with all the advice and support she provided to make sure our nervous new resident was healthy and okay.

14341762_1203861189636320_636209800_n-1

Just after arriving to his new home in a temporary cage. Pictured: a scaredy little puff ball

Our little pidge was terrified and wouldn’t move from his corner on the first night. The next morning, we woke up to him eating millet… and he didn’t stop all morning (we were getting a little worried, but he was just very hungry after starving for a couple days).

pidgeescape

“Pigeo’s great escape” circa September 14, 2016. A landmark first demonstration of his slipping-out-of-cage-when-you’re-not-looking capacities.

Then he immediately went adventuring the second I turned my back and practiced flying — he was still very weak, and could only fly a few feet at a time.

And so began Pigeo’s great adventure…

14963687_1247543505268088_44379760_o

Hanging out with other birds in the aviary and trying on pants…

 

14907826_1247543511934754_2045622919_o

Being held! (And not realizing he’s modeling for advertisements)…

(Editor’s Note: You can buy the shirt Pigeo inspired Julie to design in support of Palomacy here.)

14975897_1247543501934755_785442088_o

Sitting on shoulders after showers (ignore the strange caption, the important part is “circle”)…

 

14937013_1247548181934287_857099948_n

Turning into a loaf (Pigeo’s favorite)…

 

14937050_1247548395267599_418112968_n

Not eating his vegetables, of course (typo unintentional, I swear!)…

 

14907801_1247543515268087_502139573_o

We can’t forget refusing to take baths…

 

pigeoportrait

And just being impossibly adorable (I know every parent thinks their kid is the cutest, but I will fight anyone who says this isn’t the cutest pidge they’ve ever seen)…

 

14894393_1247502965272142_1175838458_o-1

And finally, here is Pigeo’s upgraded new home! He’s come a long way from being starved and dehydrated in an emergency spare cage, and we can’t wait to see where we’ll go next. Thanks for reading!

 

jz_f

 

Julie is a student at UC Berkeley, primarily studying the pigeon population on campus. She has always been a closeted pigeon lover and has finally realized her dreams. 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: Palomacy is so grateful to Julie for stepping up to rescue dear little Pigeo! He’s a young Homer pigeon, the kind bred to be small and white and used for “wedding dove” releases. They are supposed to get home safely but many do not and, as domestic birds with no place in the wild and no survival skills, their life span, once lost, is usually only hours to days. You can learn about why “dove releases” are cruel here and you can learn about how to care for a rescued pigeon as a pet here.

Share

October 18, 2016
by Elizabeth
0 comments

Dove Love!

On August 29th, Palomacy volunteer Ellie transported Novie & Limabean from their foster aviary at Andy’s Pet Shop in San Jose to Emily’s Monterey home so she could foster and potentially adopt them. Happy news! It’s official- they are home! We love getting updates about our birds and we especially love this wonderful video created by Emily in honor of Novie & Limabean! They are so in love! And so lucky! And so are you because we have lots of adorable, adoptable, easy to care for doves who can bring the same joy to your home! (Please see 53 Pet Doves Need Help! and learn more about fostering or adopting here.)

Emily’s mom Shannon sent this video disclaimer: “I promise Novie is not allowed to play with the blind cord nor is he allowed to gorge himself in the safflower bowl. Just showing off his adorable mischievous side!”

Novie & Limabean are welcomed to their new home!

Novie appreciated the special welcome!

Limabean felt right at home with Emily

Limabean and Emily connected right away

Emily with her adopted doves Novie & Limabean

Emily, Novie & Limabean

novie-on-nest

Novie, rescued, healed, adopted, home!

Ringneck dove Novie had been found injured and stray in Sacramento and was taken in to Wildlife Care Association where, rather than being turned away as a domestic as sometimes happens, they cared for him until Palomacy could make room. Limabean was one of nine doves whose people could no longer keep them. Thanks to our partnership with Andy’s (Rescue) Pet Shop and with lots of help from Palomacy volunteers Jill and Leda, we were able to rescue and care for Limabean and her flock. When Novie joined them, he won Limabean’s heart and so, when Emily applied to adopt him, the devoted couple were a package deal. Congratulations to Novie & Limabean and their adopter Emily and thank you to all the kind, compassionate people along the way who helped these little birds. It makes a difference.

Share

October 17, 2016
by Elizabeth
0 comments

Home Along the Lanes of the Skyway

Guest Post by William O’Neill

pigeonabouttown

A pigeon going about the daily routine.

There are over three hundred species of pigeons and doves! The most ubiquitous member of their family is Columba livia– the Rock Pigeon. You most likely refer to them simply as pigeon. They’re the enigmatic little citizens you pass by on a daily basis. Pigeons are commonly associated with cities, and often referred to as cosmopolitan species or urban wildlife. Their affinity for our cities is no fluke. Humans domesticated pigeons, at least five thousand years ago. They originated in North Africa, Southern Europe and Western Asia. They can now be found in urban areas on most continents, following human introduction. In the wild, pigeons prefer to nest and roost in the nooks and crannies of cliff faces and other protective, rocky areas. Our buildings act as the perfect surrogate. Their relationship with humans has shown to be quite beneficial for the species, with current global populations estimated to be two hundred and sixty million (still far short of the global human population). However, their success and intimate relationship with human civilization has resulted in the attribution of some onerous and undeserved reputations for being dirty, diseased, native-bird displacers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pigeons are intelligent, emotional, loyal and amazing animals.

pigeonhousingmarket

There are many housing options for this discerning tenant.

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban environments (UN, 2014), so it is no surprise that any one person’s daily routine comes with a shortage of wildlife interactions. Depending on where you live, urban wildlife may consist of dogs, cats, raccoons, rats, coyotes and birds. Surprisingly, twenty percent of the approximately ten thousand bird species on the planet live in cities (Aronson MFJ et al, 2014). Among those, the most cosmopolitan and readily identified is the pigeon. Many people don’t give pigeons the time of day, unless they happen to be “in their way” on the sidewalk. Taking a closer look at our avian neighbors would reveal their interesting and endearing lives. On any given day, you can observe pigeons: courting their life-long mates; gathering materials to build their nests where they will raise many generations of children; maneuvering through the air to avoid predators; engaging in social interactions and much more! Like you and I, pigeons are just trying to get by in the world the best they can. Taking notice of their lives can be extremely enriching to our own.

pigeonslunchmeeting

Some colleagues grab a bite to eat.

Non-native species get a pretty bad rap for destroying ecosystems and displacing native species. This is not true of all non-natives. Pigeons are one of the many introduced species that has been incorrectly labeled as a usurper of native bird’s habitat. As previously stated, pigeons do so well because they make use of the vastly altered landscapes produced by humans. Pigeons now occur in eighty percent of cities globally (Aronson MFJ et al, 2014). This might lead you to believe they have a great effect on the native bird populations. This is not the case. In cities, non-native bird species, including pigeons, account for less than five percent of the bird population. The observed dearth of native bird species is a result of anthropogenic forces (Aronson MFJ et al, 2014). It is the alteration of habitat to urban use by humans, which poses a strong threat to native birds.

pigeonstreetlife

Even while courting a mate, pigeons must be vigilant

Despite some commonly held stereotypes, generally speaking, animals do not enjoy being dirty and take steps to ensure their cleanliness. Pigeons are no exception. In fact, birds are fastidious in their hygiene, due to the importance of keeping their feathers in good shape. Bird feathers serve many functions such as flying, keeping the individual warm or cool, and employment in mating displays. Birds have devised a number of methods for feather upkeep. Birds preen by using their beak to straighten out their feathers. Each feather has smaller parts called barbs, which can become tangled and askew. Birds use their beaks much like a human might use a brush or comb. Birds also take sunbathes, ant baths, bathe in water, and preen socially. So, when you see a pigeon out on the street and they aren’t looking their best, it isn’t for lack of effort. As it turns out, humans and our cities aren’t the cleanest. With all the time it takes city pigeons to find their food; dodge cars, buses and bikes; avoid human foot traffic; and elude predators, access to clean water and time to preen can be scarce. This is compounded by the amount of waste and pollution humans spread about.

pigeons-splashing-in-puddles

Pigeons trying to keep clean in the seedy city.

As a great person once did not actually say, “I cannot tell a lie”. Pigeons, like all animals (including humans) carry disease. However, the risk to humans has been inflated, possibly as a precaution (possibly for monetary gain), with negative consequences for pigeons. From 1941 through 2003, there were only 176 cases of transmission from feral pigeons to humans (Haag-Wackernagel, 2004). Pigeons have been shown to harbor sixty to seventy human pathogens, but only seven have been transmitted to humans (Haag-Wackernagel, 2004). The most likely method for transmission is through respiration. This is because the pathogens most often implicated are breathed in with old, dry droppings. The majority of people affected are workers cleaning up droppings and people with compromised immune systems. Acquiring these pathogens can be easily avoided by taking proper precautions. Workers in close contact with droppings can wear masks to prevent inhalation. Persons with compromised immune systems can avoid encounters with pigeons and their droppings. As is often the case, prevention works.

If anyone has ever called you a bird-brain, I hope your response was, “Thank you very much!” Birds are among the smartest members of the animal kingdom. Most of the recognition goes to the Corvids: crows, ravens and jays. If Corvids are the Einsteins of the bird world, then pigeons are the Teslas. Numerous research has been done into the intelligence and abilities of pigeons. They have solved the old “box and the banana” test (Steinissen, 2010). A treat is suspended just out of the pigeon’s reach and a box is placed in the room, but away from the treat. The pigeon successfully figures out how to use the box to gain the necessary height to obtain the treat. Pigeons have been shown to have self-recognition on par with that of three-year old humans. They are able to view two video feeds and determine which video is of them and which is a recording of another pigeon (Keio University, 2008). Pigeons are also capable of discerning between two sets of objects based on their characteristics and selecting them accordingly (University of Iowa, 2014).

pigeon-banana-box

These images taken from video of the Banana-box experiment show the subject figuring out to move the box to obtain the banana.

A well-known behavior of pigeons is their homing ability. Humans have taken advantage of it for thousands of years, in different ways. Humans drive pigeons away from their homes and “race” the pigeons to see who gets home first (this is a major no-no as many do not make it back at all). Pigeons have also served in the armed forces as messengers, often rescuing humans from death and earning medals in the process (see Cher Ami). Pigeons accomplish these amazing feats in multiple ways. Studies on pigeon homing abilities have shown that the birds possess a compass that relies on both the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field. When the sun is obscured, they switch to using the magnetic field and vice versa. They also employ landmarks. Pigeons use rivers, roads, buildings and other features as paths and markers in their own mental map (BBC Earth, 2014). Pigeons are real home bodies, so it is no wonder they have developed all of these extraordinary skills for finding their way there.

pigeonsnaturalhabitat

Pigeons enjoying their native habitat.

The reason pigeons are so inclined to get back to their home is that they likely have a family waiting for them. Pigeons mate for life. Once the courtship is complete, the pair locates a nesting site. There, the male will retrieve the materials and the female will design and construct the nest (and sometimes reverse roles). Typically, pigeons will lay two eggs at a time. Both parents feed the young by producing a substance in their crop, commonly referred to as “milk”. This is the reason that pigeons grow up so fast. The mated pair will stay together and reuse the same home they have built for many generations, rebuilding it stronger each time. Unfortunately, the city life takes it toll on them and many pigeons live short lives of three to four years. Pigeons, like many birds, mourn their deceased. These intelligent and emotional beings lead full and incredible lives.

pigeonpair

A mated pair show affection.

squab

Two pigeon babies.

It is no wonder that with all of these qualities, pigeons make great companions for us humans. Wild pigeons should be just that: wild. But, many pigeons are bred and raised as domestic for various purposes. These individuals will find it hard to survive in the wild, if they ever get there. If they are able to escape their fate (often as food or racers), and lucky enough to be rescued, they will make themselves right at home in ours. Just like the more common companions-cats and dogs-they are loyal and endearing.

pigeonchristmas

Christmas made merrier by a pigeon companion.

On your way to work or school in the morning, you might cross paths with some pigeons just starting their day as well. We will all be navigating the same crowded city streets through out our day. While we sit in a restaurant eating our meals and staring out the window, you’ll probably see some pigeons pecking about the ground, doing the same. When you drive home from the store with supplies for your next home improvement project, you may notice a pigeon cruise by with some new materials for their nest. The next time you encounter a pair of pigeons walking side by side and never straying too far from each other, perhaps you’ll wonder, “How long have they been together?” These intriguing little lives are all around us. If we take the time to notice them, ours just might be a little better.

palomacybiophoto

William O’Neill grew up in Santa Rosa, CA and now lives in San Francisco, CA with his wife, dog and cat. He obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology from San Francisco State University. There he researched climate change and Lyme disease ecology. He enjoys walking his dog Squirrel, relaxing with his cat Lola, observing the pigeons at 22nd Ave and Irving Street, and volunteering with Palomacy. His answer to “What is your favorite…” will always be Jurassic Park.

 

References

Title “Home along the lanes of the skyway” lyric from Elton John’s “Skyline Pigeon”

Aronson MFJ et al. 2014 A global analysis of the impacts of urbanization on bird and plant diversity reveals key anthropogenic drivers. Proc. R. Soc. B 281: 20133330.

BBC Earth, 2014. How do homing pigeons get home? – Extraordinary Animals – Series 2 – Earth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl0Ii29XmNk

Haag-Wackernagel D, Moch H. 2004. Health hazards posed by feral pigeons. J Infect. 2004 May;48(4):307-13

Keio University. (2008, June 14). Pigeons Show Superior Self-recognition Abilities To Three Year Old Humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613145535.html

Steinissen, Geert. 2010. Insight learning: Pigeon Solves the Classic Box-and-Banana Problem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtHYyfDdSUg

United Nations 2014. World’s population increasingly urban with more than half living in urban areas.

http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/world-urbanization-prospects-2014.html

University of Iowa. (2014, April 2). Pigeons share our ability to place everyday things in categories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402095107.html

Share

September 27, 2016
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

53 Pet Doves Need Help!

Rescued dove looking better already

We need fosters & adopters for 53 beautiful rescued doves like Lucky LaRue who is feeling so much better already! Please click the image to apply.

On September 9th, Palomacy received this message:

I am reaching out on behalf of my Grandfather who lives in Pacifica. He has had pet doves for several decades now and due to his age and situation, he can no longer manage caring for these birds. I need some options on what to do with 40-50 domesticated, healthy doves. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks

Palomacy volunteer and Pacifica resident Cheryl went to meet Andy and his doves and assess the situation on September 11th.

andy-pappas-091116-pacifica-doves-img_0803

Andy and his doves

Andy had started out with a single pair of doves 40 years ago but with their breeding uncontrolled, now had 53 doves that he couldn’t properly care for. (Please- do not allow your birds to breed! There are too many captive birds literally dying for lack of homes. How to Prevent Breeding) The doves, though loved, were living in very rough conditions. They were stressed, overcrowded, living in a too small coop in air that burned with ammonia from years of accumulated poop. Cheryl assessed the situation, checked for eggs and young (there were none- the doves had become too stressed to breed), took photos so that we could collaborate to figure out a rescue plan, and reassured Andy that we would do our best to help him and his birds.
img_0799
img_0804

The following week, Palomacy volunteers Jill and Liese went to meet with Andy, rescue two bachelor doves we had openings for and talk about how Palomacy might be able to help. We were in a tough spot. Already overfull with 126 birds in our stretched-to-the-max foster care, Andy’s doves were in urgent need of rescue. They couldn’t be released to live wild- they are all domestic, with no survival skills, and predators, including crows, ravens, cats, hawks, gulls, etc. would massacre them. Andy was unwilling to surrender them to an animal shelter and, with a surrender fee of $25 each, doing so was cost prohibitive even if he had been. As rescuers, we often feel as if we have no choice but to somehow, someway, help those who no one else will.

Jill picks up the story: I was glad to help and asked my friend and fellow Palomacy volunteer, Liese, to come along with me. On September 18th, we went to meet Andy and his flock. We have two single lady doves in need of mates, Fava and Cathy, and wanted to rescue a couple of bachelors from this flock. Neither of us were prepared for the filth we experienced upon entering the aviary.  The smell of ammonia was overwhelming. The birds were dirty and had given up any normal behaviors one would see in doves. There was no cooing, no laughing, no courting, no nesting, no defending their nests. They all seemed to be stunned and just surviving on what little seed was being thrown on the floor (which was covered in many years worth and hundreds of pounds of their own waste). They only had one small bowl with an inch of dirty water in it.

Trying to sex them was very difficult. They didn’t act like normal doves. They were too crowded and stressed to interact with each other. Liese and I felt the pelvic bones of a bunch, doing our best to determine gender that way. The last thing I would ever want to do was take a mate away from his beloved but I brought home two doves that didn’t seem attached to anyone and whose pelvic bones felt like males’.

Rescued Ringneck dove in loving volunteer's hands

Rooster’s rescue day

We named the white one Oliver and the fawn dove Rooster. So far, no love match for Fava but she’s enjoying the dove company and it is adorable to see Oliver and Rooster coming back to life. They seem amazed to have so much space, choices, possibilities…

Rescued doves perched together on a curtain rod

Oliver & Rooster, exploring

Three happy doves sitting side by side

Fava, Rooster & Oliver are becoming friends

On September 23rd, Cheryl, Liese and I went back to the aviary to clean it out as best we could and pull as many doves as we had been able to inspire foster homes for. We caught all of them, placed them in carriers for safe-keeping and tackled cleaning the aviary. We wore masks and gloves. We hauled out hundreds of pounds of dove poop, along with rotten plywood. We hammered rusty nails that were sticking out of the shelving and walls. We scrubbed the walls and shelves.

Selfie of 3 volunteers, sweaty & masked,

Liese, Jill & Cheryl cleaning out Andy’s aviary

We scraped the nest boxes. We put new boards along the floor. The smell was gone, the birds were all assessed and Palomacy took 24 more doves into our foster care, including the three medical cases (Bailey, Madison & Reese). We are straining to fit these doves into our care and we had to leave the remaining 27 there for now, (their circumstances greatly improved). Cheryl is fostering three, Liese is fostering two (Avery & Lucky LaRue), we’re housing four in our foster aviary at Andy’s Rescue Pet Shop in San Jose, Marin Humane Society in Novato is taking a pair to adopt out from their lobby, Elizabeth is fostering two, Kristi in Sacramento is taking in six, and I’m fostering five.

Volunteer Jill with two of her foster doves

Jill with fosters Bailey & Madison

Smiling volunteer holding a lucky to be rescued Ringneck dove

Liese & her new foster dove Lucky LaRue

Smiling foster volunteer holding dove

Cheryl & Captain, one of her three new fosters

Three sick and/or injured doves being transported to rescue in a pet carrier

Medical cases- Madison, Reese & Bailey

Avian vet with white dove perched on her hand

Dr. Murphy is helping us treat the sick & injured

Doves in an aviary

Four new foster doves have joined our fosters in San Jose. (Click on the photo to see & hear our live BirdCams including these doves.)

Four rescued doves

Foster doves Mouse, Bix, Chief & Blizzard, shy upon arrival

Happy dove, wings, raised, on the edge of a water basin

Chief exults in the possibility of a bath

Cute photo of two doves sitting cozily together

Given room to move, the doves are developing relationships. Mouse & Bix are becoming a couple.

Our work is not done. We need to find homes for all of these beautiful doves- the 26 in our foster care as well as the 27 ‘sheltering in place’ in Andy’s now clean and well stocked aviary (which we will continue to visit and help care for).

The good news is despite their difficult predicament, these doves are super sweet and very adoptable. They are so responsive to attention and really appreciate all the loving care they’re getting. Please- help these little birds. Foster or adopt a pair or a flock! (We include a pair of fake dove eggs and directions on how to prevent breeding with every pair adopted! Learn more about Doves as Pets.) Apply here.

And please, donate to support Palomacy. Without your help, we can’t help the birds who need us. They are the innocents, at risk through no fault of their own.

We will keep you posted on this flock. We still have much work to do.

Adorable little dove perched on a hand

Rescued dove Bailey says Thank You!

Share

September 14, 2016
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

A Coo-ture Flight of Fancy to Benefit Palomacy

Created by Christiana Reed

Photo of Christiana & Talma by Elisabeth Millay

Photo of Christiana & Talma by Elisabeth Millay

The work of animal rescuers (and the humans who love them) can be very un-glamorous. Totally worth the effort, but very humble and messy. Palomacy’s volunteers shine brightly through it all, though, their generosity and compassion radiant through the endless pij pants changes, cleaning of aviaries, hours in cars crowded with cages, and fatigue at the end of long advocacy events.

Volunteer Christiana Reed wanted to find a way to show the world how beautiful the spirit of Palomacy is, and got inspired to learn the art of tutu making to this end, with all sales benefitting the cause of the pigeons. This endeavor took on a life of its own, and Christiana’s coo-ture is now showcased in all manner of settings, from tea parties to Burning Man.

To help with the cost of some Palomacy’s recent large vet bills, Christiana is now offering her entire inventory of tutus and matching corsets at tutu-good-to-be-true prices! 100% of proceeds are donated directly to Palomacy, and you have the opportunity to score one-of-a-kind creations just in time for Hallowe’en.

Photos and information on the items for sale are below. Please contact Christiana at christianadove13@yahoo.com to place an order or ask any questions.

Christiana also gladly takes custom orders all year round, for people and pets (including pigeons), and as always, 100% of proceeds are donated to Palomacy.


 

Ensemble fit for a Hallowe’en Queen

Start with a reversible floor-length tutu skirt, wearable with black or or a peachy orange as the predominant color.

The waistband is wide, soft, light-as-air black crochet, which will comfortably stretch to accommodate a waist 28 to 43 inches.

Black and orange tutu skirt alone:  Was $50.  Now just $36 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-56-10-am

Two corsets to match the orange and black skirt, or to complement any other item in your own wardrobe.

A peachy-orange and black flocked brocade pattern corset, which closes at the front with a busk and laces seductively up the back with black ribbon.  Includes an attached back modesty panel, and will fit a natural waist up to 32 inches.

Orange and black corset:  Was $32.  Now just $20 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-56-15-am

A black and gold brocade corset with steampunk clasps to close the front, and sexy black ribbon lacing up the back.  Includes an attached back modesty panel, and will fit a natural waist up to 32 inches.  Also comes with a matching brocade thong (plastic packaging seen pinned to corset back in photo).

Black and gold brocade corset:  Was $35.  Now $22 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-56-20-am

For a spectacularly head-turning combination, pair the black and orange tutu skirt with either corset!

Special combination pricing:

Tutu skirt + black and orange corset:  $50 + shipping

Tutu skirt + black and gold corset:  $52 + shipping

Tutu skirt + both corsets:  $70 + shipping

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-56-26-am

Gothic Double-Delight

Another tutu skirt certain to get you noticed at any Hallowe’en gathering, in the club, or at any artsy occasion!

This knee-length skirt is reversible.

On one side, the skirt is purple and deep plum with a slightly longer black bustle.

On the other side, the skirt is black with a slightly longer burgundy bustle.

The waistband is a wide purple soft, light-as-air crochet which can comfortably stretch to accommodate a waist 28 to 45 inches.

Gothic Double-Delight tutu skirt:  Was $38.  Now just $26 + shipping!

Please note, the tutu appears see-through in the photos due to the background sunlight, but in fact it offers dense coverage.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-2-46-07-pm

Plum Pleasure

A knee-length tutu skirt perfect for gothic cosplay or any artistic evening occasion.

This tutu is reversible, and can be worn with either black or deep plum as the predominant color.

The waistband is wide, soft, light-as-air black crochet, which will comfortably stretch to accommodate a waist 26 to 43 inches.

Plum Pleasure tutu skirt:  Was $30.  Now just $22 + shipping!

Please note, the tutu appears see-through in the photos due to the background sunlight, but in fact it offers dense coverage.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-2-48-46-pm

Plum Pleasure Bustle

For those who want to gently ease into the tutu-wearing experience, or to spice up an existing outfit!

This bustle is deep plum purple with accents of black, and covers the backside and hips.  The waistband is wide, soft, light-as-air black crochet, which will comfortably stretch to accommodate a waist 27 to 43 inches.

Plum Pleasure bustle tutu:  Was $22.  Now just $14 + shipping!

Please note, the bustle appears see-through in the photos due to the background sunlight, but in fact it offers dense coverage.

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-2-50-42-pm

Beauty Ablaze

A mid-calf-length bustle-only piece that perfectly showcases your fiery spirit!

The waistband is wide, soft, light-as-air black crochet, which will comfortably stretch to accommodate a waist 36 to 60 inches at present.  This can easily be reduced to a smaller size if desired.

Beauty Ablaze bustle:  Was $28.  Now just $20 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-2-52-22-pm

Se-tux-ion

There’s just something about a tux, especially when it’s also a tutu!

This ensemble consists of a tux-styled corset and an above-the-knee length tutu skirt.

The corset is elaborately trimmed with ribbons, lace, and bows.  It closes with a front busk, and laces sexily with black cord up the back.  It includes an attached back modesty panel, and can accommodate a natural waist up to 34 inches, and comes with a matching blue satin thong.

The tutu skirt is black, with a waistband of wide, soft, light-as-air black crochet, which will comfortably stretch to accommodate a waist 27 to 46 inches.

Corset alone:  Was $30.  Now just $20 + shipping!

Tutu skirt alone:  Was $25.  Now just $18 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-3-00-45-pm

Corset + tutu skirt:  Was $50.  Now just $35 + shipping!screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-3-02-06-pm

Goth Meets Vegas

Who knew that a showgirl-worthy bustle skirt would go so well with a skulls-and-roses corset?

Each piece is gorgeous alone, and together they’re an absolute show-stopper.

The corset combines a skulls, chains, and roses fabric pattern with feminine black ribbon trim and bow detail.  It closes with a front busk and laces seductively up the back with black ribbon.  It includes an attached back modesty panel and can accommodate a natural waist up to 30 inches.  It also comes with a matching satin thong (plastic packaging seen in photo of corset alone pinned to inside back).

The bright magenta tutu is a knee-length skirt with a big floor-length bustle.  The waistband is made of wide, soft, light-as-air magenta crochet, which will comfortably stretch to accommodate a waist 25 to 44 inches.

Corset alone:  Was $25.  Now just $18 + shipping!

Vegas-style tutu skirt:  Was $50.  Now just $36 + shipping!

Corset + tutu skirt:  Was $70.  Now just $50 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-3-04-36-pm
screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-3-06-31-pm

The Greatest Adventure

An ensemble designed to make a wedding or any cosplay event into the beginning of a tremendous adventure!

A full, flouncy floor-length tutu skirt in pure white is accented by a train bustle with hints of glimmering gold.  The waistband is soft, light-as-air white crochet, which will comfortably stretch to accommodate a waist 26 to 38 inches.

The accompanying corset is white with a shimmering gold and silver compass-rose emblem covering the front.  The front closes with a busk, and the back laces up beautifully with white ribbon.  It can accommodate a waist up to 32 inches, and comes with a matching white satin thong.

A regal necklace of crystal and pastel stones is Christiana’s gift to the lucky party who purchases this ensemble!

Corset alone:  Was $25.  Now just $18 + shipping!

Tutu skirt alone:  Was $100.  Now just $60 + shipping!

Greatest Adventure corset + tutu skirt + free necklace gift:  Was $120.  Now just $70 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-12-31-49-pm
screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-12-31-58-pm

Cabaret-dorable!

This is a tutu skirt designed to showcase your inner cabaret singer.

It’s a full, knee-length black skirt with a sparkly silver sequin waistband that will comfortably fit a waist 34 to 54 inches.

Cabaret-dorable tutu skirt:  Was $35.  Now just $22 + shipping!

Please note, the tutu appears see-through in the photos due to the background sunlight, but in fact it offers dense coverage.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-12-32-04-pm

Cupid’s Ambassador

This seductive little number will bring out your inner Cupid for sure.  It’s also great as part of a sexy Santa’s helper ensemble!

The tutu is mid-thigh length and has an iridescent white sequin waistband that will comfortably stretch to fit a waist 26 to 42 inches.  The back has a knee-length bustle and a sassy large, sparkly mesh bow.

Cupid’s Ambassador tutu skirt:  Was $26.  Now just $17 + shipping!

Please note, the tutu appears see-through in the photos due to the background sunlight, but in fact it offers dense coverage.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-12-32-12-pm

Cupid Jr.

An adorable little girl’s tutu for the holiday season or Valentine’ day.  Delightful alone, or as an accompaniment to a grown-up wearing the Cupid’s Ambassador tutu!

Red covers a white under-layer in this girls’ knee-length skirt, with a soft, light-as-air white crochet waistband, which will comfortably stretch to accommodate a waist up to 20 inches.  The back has a sassy large, sparkly mesh bow, trimmed with a silk flower with a large rhinestone center.

Cupid Jr. girls’ tutu skirt:  Was $20.  Now just $14 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-12-32-17-pm

Sparkling Sweet Pea

A little girl’s springtime dream!

This girls’ size tutu skirt is a knee-length confection of pink and lightly-glittered lavender, with a pink and purple mid-calf length bustle accented with three silk flowers with large rhinestone centers.  The waistband is iridescent lavender sequins, and will comfortably stretch to fit a waist up to 21 inches.

Sparkling Sweet Pea tutu skirt:  Was $23.  Now just $16 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-54-42-am

Pink Princess

A little girls’ tutu designed for limitless flouncing and flights of fancy.

This girls’ size tutu skirt is a knee-length confection of white and light pink, with a deeper pink mid-calf length bustle accented.  The waistband is iridescent pink sequins, trimmed in the front with five silk flowers in white and pink with large rhinestone centers, in the back with a single pink rhinestone-center silk flower, and will comfortably stretch to fit a waist up to 21 inches.

Pink Princess tutu skirt:  Was $23.  Now just $16 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-54-46-am

Holiday Baby Dress

A creation to showcase the cuteness of your little bundle of joy at all of your holiday affairs!

The top is woven red tulle and crochet, with a large red and green ribbon bow in front.  The skirt is cheerful red petal cuts with a layer of white underneath.  The bodice is 4 inches from waist to top, and will comfortably stretch to fit a belly up to 20 inches.

Holiday baby dress:  Was $35.  Now just $20 + shipping!

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-3-21-17-pm

Versatile Girls’ Tutus

Simpler short tutu skirts which can be worn on their own, or to enhance existing costumes.

Magenta petal-cut tulle, with a tiny rhinestone bow trim in front.  Can stretch to comfortably fit a waist 18 to 21 inches

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-54-59-am

Red tulle of a softer variety, with a tiny rhinestone bow trim in front.  Can stretch to comfortably fit a waist 18 to 21 inches

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-55-06-am

Blue tulle with a soft, light-as-air blue crochet waistband.  Can stretch to comfortably fit a waist 22 to 34 inches.

This piece could also work as a adult runners’ tutu!

Tutus for your holiday tree, or for yourself!

These billowing tutus are the perfect length to grace a holiday tree, or to be playful knee-length party skirts.

They have elastic waistbands, and close in the back with adorable ribbon ties.  Each can stretch to comfortably fit a waist up to 30 inches.

Holiday tree/party skirt tutus:  Were $27 each.  Now just $18 each + shipping!

Please note, the tutus appear see-through in the photos due to the background sunlight, but in fact they offer dense coverage.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-55-12-am

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-55-18-am

Please contact Christiana at christianadove13@yahoo.com to place an order or ask any questions.

Christiana also gladly takes custom orders all year round, for people and pets (including pigeons), and as always, 100% of proceeds are donated to Palomacy.

Please feel free to tell your friends about this sample sale. It’s simple to share with the button below.

Thank coo so much for looking!

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-55-29-am

Share

September 13, 2016
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

What pigeon diplomacy means to me, or how I learned to stop worrying and love birds

Guest Post by Liese Hunter

Whit King pigeon snuggled on his back in the arms of a volunteer

Feisty foster pigeon Jerry (wearing pants) sublime in Liese’s embrace

My friend Elizabeth asked me to write something about my relationship with pigeons. I thought about it for a long time and wondered where to begin? Begin at the beginning.

In late 2011, I had a passing conversation with a co-worker about chickens, basically she said she liked them and I said I didn’t like them, and she couldn’t believe I didn’t like them since I like animals and hens are so lovely, et cetera. As I tend to do, I thought about this conversation (maybe too much), and examined the question of why I didn’t think I liked chickens. I had never actually had chickens, or hung around with chickens, and as I explored my memory, I realized my entire frame of reference was based on a crazy rooster that my grandparents had who used to chase us around and try to attack us with his spur when we were kids. Time for a perspective shift.

On my next trip to the local library, I wandered up to the non-fiction area to investigate the bird section, which was surprisingly large. I looked around for a book that appeared accessible, which to me means clean, readable, and easy to carry around. I found Sy Montgomery’s book Birdology, which seemed inviting enough and pretty new. Each chapter in her book investigated a different species of bird – not as a biological or scientific study – but merely as she experienced the birds personally and in conversations with others, adding interesting facts along the way. (Sy has an appealing sense of humor, which led me to read another of her books, The Good Good Pig, which also includes chickens.)

Reading Birdology was the beginning of opening my mind about birds. Sy’s book introduced me to several different families of birds, including racing pigeons. While I am not a fan of humans racing any animal, it was fascinating to read about the studied intelligence and history of pigeons. I have to admit, my experience with this book was the first time I ever considered birds in general, or pigeons in particular, and it was only an academic interest, not one that included actual birds.

I borrowed more library books, read more about birds, including Alex the parrot, Cher Ami the famous WWII pigeon, Wesley the owl, and continued to be enthralled by these personal accounts of human relationships with birds. I have certainly loved all the animals who have ever shared my life, especially my heart cat Simon, and it was at this time that I realized perhaps I had more to offer our animal population. I signed up to become a volunteer cat socializer for the Humane Society of Silicon Valley.

Life got busy, as it does, but in January of 2013, I attended the Bay Area Pet Expo with some dear friends. There were cats, dogs, exhibits, demonstrations, the famous Shorty Rossi, adoption events – it was a really busy, noisy place with many things happening concurrently, which, as a hard-core introvert, is not really my comfort zone. As we passed through the last building of the expo, I was already mentally preparing to leave, when we passed a fascinating booth with clothing and outfits for rats (wow!), and then suddenly found ourselves in front of the Palomacy booth (then MickaCoo). The booth was full of happy people and beautiful birds. Someone asked me if I wanted to hold a pigeon and I think I said, Uh…

And then Elizabeth Young put a pigeon in my hands.

Liese holds a pigeon, Santino, for the first time

Liese holds a pigeon, Santino, for the first time

At that moment, I didn’t know Elizabeth. I didn’t know this would be the beginning of a different chapter of my life. I didn’t know that I had finally found my tribe. It took me a while to know those things. But I can tell you, I will never forget holding that first pigeon.

That pigeon’s name is Santino, and in my hands, he felt light and heavy and warm and relaxed all at the same time. And in some way, I was transformed.

Elizabeth says that to meet a pigeon is to love a pigeon. Elizabeth is right.

Meeting these birds was the highlight of my day. But it would be a while before I held my next pigeon.

To be continued…

Liese is a volunteer cat socializer and pigeon cuddler. When she is not out hiking the local trails, she is the service provider for three senior cats, two rescued pigeons, and her most formidable boss Miss Lily Belle, a chihuahua she adopted from the Humane Society of Silicon Valley.

Share

September 9, 2016
by Elizabeth
3 Comments

Kit & Caboodle

Rescued pigeon cradled in volunteer's arms

Caboodle- safe in loving arms

Can you imagine how it feels to be an injured pigeon dropped off at a busy animal shelter? Dogs are barking, the people are hurrying past… You’d wonder, What now?

On August 18th, two young Roller pigeons were brought in to Oakland Animal Services as “strays” by the person we suspect is actually breeding them. (See What’s Wrong with Roller Pigeons?) Both suffered from malnutrition and have crippling bone issues and wounds as a result. (Often pigeon hobbyists will cull- kill- imperfect or unwanted birds so we are grateful that they were at least surrendered to the shelter.) Through the network of volunteers, we were alerted to their situation. Once pigeon rescue expert Jill saw them at the shelter, we knew that, without our help, these birds would be euthanized as unadoptable. So, somehow, overextended as we are, we had to fit them in. So we have. We’ve named them Kit and Caboodle. Both are tiny and adorable and, despite their issues, full of life.

Caboodle & Kit at Oakland Animal Services

Caboodle & Kit at Oakland Animal Services

Kit is very young- not even two months old. She came in very thin and with her left foot so damaged that the tissue had died and soon fell off.

Kit's left leg was swollen, infected & the foot dead

Kit’s left leg was swollen, infected & the foot dead

Caboodle & Kit on their way to the vet

Caboodle & Kit on their way to the vet

Kit's dead foot, rejected by her body

Kit’s dead, detached foot

Kit's infection is clearing & her stump is healing

Kit’s infection is clearing & her stump is healing

With the help of antibiotics, pain relief and loving care from her foster mom, Kit is healing up beautifully. She’s gained weight and strength. She stands up proud, hops to get around and has even started testing out bearing weight on her stump. (We don’t think she’ll need a prosthetic foot but if she does, we’ve got the ability to provide one!) Kit has a happy life ahead. She will make some lucky adopter an amazingly dear pet.

Kit enjoys getting love and scritches from her foster mom Jill

Kit enjoys getting love and scritches from her foster mom Jill

Dove & pigeon hanging out together

Ringneck dove Fava & Kit are pals

Kit thanks you for helping Palomacy help her!

Kit thanks you for helping Palomacy help her!

Caboodle is only slightly older at about 6 months of age. His legs too are bowed from malnutrition and his radiographs show old breaks in both. His left leg is so bowed that it has knuckled his foot completely under and he needs corrective surgery to prevent further damage to both legs. His ability to stand and walk at all are at risk.

Caboodle's weak bones are crippling him

Caboodle’s weak bones are crippling him

Caboodle's legs are deformed & x-ray reveals prior healed breaks

Caboodle’s legs are deformed & x-ray reveals prior healed breaks

I fall in love with all of our birds but Caboodle has stolen my heart in his own special way. He is such a tiny but fierce and feisty little bird! He is full of confidence and opinions and not at all shy about expressing himself! He is full of attitude and has a dramatic eyebrow marking over one eye that makes him look extra angry (and cute)! Check out this video of him scolding his foster mom Jill.


We have been hit with a landslide of vet bills recently and we’re already struggling in the red but how could we say no to Caboodle? It’s just not an option to euthanize a bird so full of life. Our only choice is inspire more donations and to somehow raise the funds we need to fix his legs. Please help us!

Little Caboodle shows me his sweet side

Little Caboodle shows me his sweet side

But then watch out- angry bird!

But then watch out- angry bird!

Caboodle is currently hospitalized at Medical Center for Birds in preparation for corrective surgery. They are studying his radiographs and strategizing about how best to save his foot and the use of his legs.

Avian vet sits on the exam room floor watching crippled pigeon walk

Dr. Olsen assesses how best to help Caboodle

Portrait of a beautiful little rescued Roller pigeon

Caboodle says Thank You!

9/12 UPDATE: We are thrilled to tell you that after more evaluation and discussion, Dr. Speer has recommended that we postpone surgery (possibly indefinitely) and see how well Caboodle can tolerate a shoe and whether or not it can improve his functionality and posture. So far, he’s doing great! (We do have lots of birds receiving vet care so if you donated towards Caboodle’s surgery, other birds such as Kendall, Bug, Perry & Reble.)

Pigeon wearing a corrective shoe

Caboodle’s shoe is working great so far!

Your generous support is what enables us to save the lives of birds like Caboodle and Kit. Please, if you can, donate today.

Thank you for making Palomacy possible!

signature

Share
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: