July 19, 2014
by Elizabeth
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MickaCoo @ The East Bay SPCA Adoptathon

MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue volunteers and birds spent their day catching up with old friends and making new ones at the East Bay SPCA Adoptathon! Highlights included a special Hey Sugar Sugar! serenade and being interviewed by SF Chronicle reporter Nanette Asimov. HUGE thanks to our host the EB SPCA and to all of our volunteers- Christiana, Melne, Sally, Max, Xavier & Louisa!
 

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July 16, 2014
by Elizabeth
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Sugar’s Story

Sugar, 2 weeks old

Sugar, 2 weeks old

On Thursday, June 12th, when SFACC shelter veterinarian Dr. Chris Anderson called asking for help with a splay-legged baby pigeon surrendered to them the day before, I almost burst into tears- not for Sugar, but for the impossibility of the situation. We are asked to help more birds than we have resources. We couldn’t help her- we already owed thousands of dollars in vet bills for Truffles, Speckles, Fluffball, Donut, Fella, Stella, Penny… And we couldn’t not help her. Because of her leg deformity, she was stranded flat on her tummy, unable to walk or even stand up. She would be euthanized as unadoptable.

Splay-legged baby homing pigeon Sugar unable to stand

Splay-legged baby homing pigeon Sugar unable to stand

Sometimes splay-legs, if treated early enough, can be corrected inexpensively with hobbles (and pain meds) to force and hold the legs in place until the muscles are able to take over, but not always. It depends on the positioning and structure of the bones. Sometimes surgery (always expensive) is required to break, rotate and reposition the bones. Without knowing what Sugar would need but knowing we couldn’t afford either, Medical Center for Birds generously agreed to try and help Sugar pro bono. I picked Sugar up from the shelter and one of our volunteers drove her the 60 miles (one way) to Oakley.

Severely deformed

Severely deformed

Sugar’s case was difficult. She appeared to need breaks in both legs which would prolong surgery and increase the risks. And her bones were too small for threaded pins which would complicate recovery and lessen the likelihood of a successful outcome. The vets studied the baby pigeon, conferred and debated the possibilities. On the morning that she was scheduled to have surgery, Dr. Kane tried, against logic, to see if Sugar could tolerate being hobbled and taped into standing position on a snowboard style fixator. And, if she could, what it might achieve.

Sugar's feet beneath her for the first time

Sugar’s feet beneath her for the first time

To everyone’s surprise, they were able, despite her funky physiology, to get a potentially functional posture. She was monitored and rebandaged every day.

Sugar

Sugar, June 20

Sugar stands proud

Sugar stands proud, June 21

Once Sugar found her feet, she never looked back.

Dr. Kane & Sugar, discharged June 27

Dr. Kane & Sugar, discharged June 27

So much preening to do!

So much preening to do!

Sugar helping with E-mail

Sugar helping with E-mail

That's a lot of E-mail!

That’s a lot of E-mail!

Sugar's hobbles working great!

Sugar’s hobbles working great!

Sugar rocking her cute baby fuzz

Sugar rocking her cute baby fuzz

Sugar's first humane education presentation

Sugar’s first humane education presentation

Sugar on a hobble-free break

Sugar on a hobble-free break

Looking forward to a happy future

Looking forward to a happy future

MickaCoo is a volunteer-powered, donation-supported project of Community Initiatives. If you can, please support our work with a tax deductible donation.

Thank you for helping MickaCoo to help Sugar and so many others.

Sugar thanks you!

Sugar thanks you!

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July 11, 2014
by Elizabeth
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Healing the Broken: Aurora’s Story

Aurora in need of rescue

Aurora in need of rescue

If Aurora could write this post, I imagine it would go something like this:

Thank you for helping me! My name is now Aurora. As a young racing pigeon on one of my first flights, I got injured and grounded. The people who found me were well-intentioned but uniformed and they kept me in an unsafe and uncomfortable enclosure. They never got me any help for my broken, backward leg and, while I healed the best I could on my own, I was miserable. I was in pain, scared and lonely.

But not any more. Now I am safe! On the Fourth of July, even though MickaCoo is full, their volunteer appeared to truly rescue me. She held me carefully with loving hands and spoke gently to reassure me. She took me to her home in a crate lined with an extra soft towel to provide relief to my tortured feet and aching legs. She scritched my head and loved on me and the very next day I was at the vet getting expert care.

While I have a long recovery ahead of me, I already feel so much better! I’m getting proper food, lots of love, vet care for my wounds and pain medicine to help me through. I’ve been x-rayed and the doctors at Medical Center for Birds are conferring about how best to surgically repair my leg. There is hope that I will be able to walk again! I am so happy that they are having a hard time keeping me from celebrating with baths in my small water dish. I am saved! None of this would have been possible if not for your generous support. Thank you!

When “MickaCoo is full”, it means that our foster homes and aviaries are full up, that we have more expenses than funding and more work than people-power to get it done.

And we are full. But on Friday, July Fourth, when I received emailed photos showing two pigeons being kept in completely unsafe and inhumane conditions, we had to save them. I reached out to MickaCoo volunteer Jill and, despite the holiday, she dropped everything to help.

Jill picks up the story:

Arriving to pick up the pigeons, there were dogs, big and small, milling about the front yard, barking and jumping. When I picked the broke-leg racing pigeon now named Aurora up off the wire cage floor, I could immediately see that she was dealing with not only a broken leg healed wrong but a ‘good’ foot/leg that was seriously compromised. Her racing band was cutting into her swollen leg and I was not surprised to see she had bumblefoot, a condition common among birds and rodents housed on wire. It’s very painful.

Broke-leg racer kept standing on wire in unsafe cage

Broke-leg racer kept standing on wire in unsafe cage

The wing-injured pigeon housed in the backyard (now named Indy) had been attacked by the neighbor’s dog. Despite the lack of treatment, her injury has healed, though she can’t fly. She was kept in a makeshift cage fashioned out of chain link fence, boards and wire leaned together haphazardly. There were huge gaps and it’s a miracle she wasn’t killed by predators. 

Denise Ambriz rescued pigeon 070414 20140703_153022 crop

Wing-injured racer in unsafe, make-shift enclosure

 Aurora seemed to know I was there to help her. As soon as I put her in the padded crate, she went crazy eating pigeon feed! Yay! Good and proper pigeon grub! After getting this little bird home, she quickly settled into a nicely padded cage and welcomed neck scritches gratefully. I can only imagine how good it felt to have some relief and proper care. 

Aurora's untreated broken leg healed backwards

Aurora’s untreated broken leg healed backwards

Her 'good' leg was swollen, infected and painful

Her ‘good’ leg was swollen, infected and painful

Aurora loving Jill's loving care

Aurora loving Jill’s loving care

Indy has settled nicely in one of my aviaries and is now defending ‘her territory’ with great fervor. She’ll be married (if she is really a hen) soon I imagine, since we have lots of bachelor pigeons.

Indy is safe & happy now

Indy is safe & happy now

The very next day, Jill was at Medical Center for Birds with Aurora. MickaCoo depends on your donations to fund this work and we really need your help to pay for Aurora’s veterinary care and surgery.

Foster volunteer Jill comforting Aurora

Foster volunteer Jill comforting Aurora

Aurora band removal 20140705_123227

Aurora’s too tight band was Dremeled off her swollen leg

Radiographs show multiple breaks

Radiographs show multiple breaks

Aurora's infected feet are treated & bandaged

Aurora’s infected feet are treated & bandaged

Aurora underwent surgery to rebreak and correctively reposition her backwards leg on Wednesday, July 9th. I’ll post that chapter of her story in the coming week.

Aurora hospitalized pre-surgery

Aurora hospitalized pre-surgery

Please help us to help birds like Aurora when there is no where else for them to turn. Please support our work with your life-saving donation.

TO BE CONTINUED

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July 11, 2014
by Elizabeth
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A Home Fit for a King: A Guest Post by Donut & Mia Skillern

Donut, 5/20/14

Donut, 5/20/14

Donut- age 3 months, as told to Mia,

Hi! I’m Donut, a young King pigeon. I was bred to be meat (squab) and when I was barely a month old, I was plucked from my life with my parents and sibling and sold at a live food market. I was dyed pink and used in a ceremony where doves are released as a “prayer to God.” Little do people know, often the white “doves” they think they are releasing are actually helpless baby King pigeons like me.

I guess you could call me a ‘glazed’ donut. I have a distinct pink streak that runs down my left side from my wing to my tail. I think that I was dyed to match the dresses worn during the ceremony. Anyways, because I was just four weeks old and because I am a domestic bird, I couldn’t fend for myself—at times I was nearly run over by cars. Luckily, I was found wandering around the intersection of Columbus and Broadway in San Francisco (near the park where I was released) by a kind person who brought me to San Francisco Animal Care & Control (SFACC). There, I was kept in a back room with three other baby pigeons. We were not in adoptable condition. We were underweight and we had respiratory infections. On May 20, Elizabeth Young, Founder of MickaCoo, rescued us. All of MickaCoo’s foster homes were full up with other birds, so she called a newly ready foster family. They said Yes and the next day, she brought us to the Skillerns’ backyard aviary. I enjoyed all the space and being with the other baby pigeons and the sunshine outdoors, but I didn’t like being handled and given my daily medicine (I prefer birds to people). Being the oldest and largest in the group, I was naturally the boss bird. For a while, life was good! But tragically, despite lots of special care from our foster family and the avian vets, my pigeon friends, Truffles, Speckles and Fluffball, died, too sick for their compromised immune systems to cope. Then I was alone again, but just for a few days. My family brought home a mated pair of pigeons, Homer-King cross Darius and his mate Harper, a gentle little Homer, to keep me company. They’re both older than me, so I’m no longer the king of the aviary. Yet, I am a pigeon full of liveliness and spunk and I know that I am lucky to be alive!

Mia & Donut

Mia & Donut

Young Mia cradling rescued King pigeon Donut

Donut & Mia

Mia Skillern- age 11 years, writes,

I first heard of King pigeons when I started volunteering for MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue. These sweet, beautiful birds are raised for meat and killed and butchered at four weeks old. Sometimes, a sympathetic person will set some babies free, expecting they can thrive on the streets like the feral pigeons they see. Unfortunately, these domestic birds have no chance of survival. They can barely fly, self-feed or evade predators. Most of them will become meals for cats, dogs, hawks, ravens and seagulls. Some of them are even killed by cars and mean people. Occasionally, ‘lucky’ pigeons will survive long enough to make it to the animal shelter. Even there, though, unless rescued, the baby pigeons are more likely to be euthanized than get out alive. MickaCoo rescues and finds forever homes for these wonderful birds. I give lots of thanks to MickaCoo volunteers and the vets at Medical Center for Birds and all the other people who helped Donut live to tell his tale.

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June 8, 2014
by Elizabeth
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MickaCoo @ Animal Place’s Music in the Meadow Celebration

MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue was thrilled to be invited to join Animal Place at their wonderful Music in the Meadow celebration at their sanctuary in Grass Valley. It was an awesome day and we made a whole lot of new friends and had fun with lots of old friends! We are grateful to Animal Place for all that they do to help farmed animals and for helping MickaCoo to raise awareness, inspire compassion and reduce demand for the cruel “delicacy” of squab (baby pigeons bred & killed for meat).

Special thanks to our volunteers Cheryl, Josette, Christiana, Shae & Barbara and to Kate for giving us her much appreciated VIP package!

 

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May 31, 2014
by Elizabeth
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MickaCoo @ Maddie’s Adoptathon in SF

MickaCoo volunteers & birds participating in the Maddie’s Fund Adoptathon in SF helped to educate a lot of folks that birds need rescue too, that pigeons are awesome and that unreleasable pigeons and doves make great pets. Click on photos to enlarge.

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May 8, 2014
by Elizabeth
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Photographs by Elisabeth Millay

001_Cheryls_Pigeons by Elisabeth Millay

This photography project was created to share some of the moments that happen between pigeons and their human friends and to support MickaCoo. I’ve been working on a collection of photographs captured on film, documenting these beautiful birds and the people who love them dearly. This project is still underway, if you are interested in being involved, please contact Elisabeth Millay

006_Cheryls_Pigeons

Jill_Pigeons_Edit_011

Chanel & Jill_Pigeons_Edit_013

See the collection

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May 7, 2014
by Elizabeth
2 Comments

MickaCoo @ ASPCA Voices for Animals Day in Sacramento

MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue joined the ASPCA’s California Voices for Animals Day event at the State Capitol on May 7th. The event was a great opportunity to increase awareness about and compassion for bird rescue. We enjoyed having the opportunity to mingle with other animal welfare advocates as well as meet with legislators. Extra special thanks to Christiana for using a vacation day to work in support of the birds!

Sacramento Fox TV 40 Interview

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May 1, 2014
by Elizabeth
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A Letter from Elizabeth, founder & director

Dear Friends,

We are poised at a critical juncture. We are receiving more support and recognition than ever before and, as news of the work we do spreads, the demand for our services does too. So, even with all the help that you are already providing, more is needed.

We’ve created an amazing community of compassionate, dedicated fighters for the pigeons & doves that need us. We have 16 foster volunteers providing wonderful care for 114 birds! We have volunteers, veterans and newbies, committing to outreach, adoption & humane education events across seven counties (and sometimes beyond). Your generosity and hard work is what has built MickaCoo into the culture-changing, life-saving rescue leader that we are today.

You are already doing and giving so much that it is hard for me to find the words to ask for more but I’m writing these words for the birds. We are overfull and unable to take in birds waiting for our help. We need more homes.

Please- go outside and look to see if your yard might not benefit from the grace and beauty of an aviary. Reach out to your friends, relatives, neighbors, colleagues and inspire them to create a home for beautiful, easy to care for pigeons or doves. Contact that sanctuary, winery or retreat that you know would be graced by a life-saving aviary of sweet, gently cooing birds. To our out-of-the-area supporters, we encourage adopting locally but we do also sometimes approve long-distance adopters (within the Continental US). We need more homes for these sweet birds.

It’s hard to imagine, but Valiant, an incredible bird that many of you know, has been in our foster care for more than two years! And he is not alone. There are many other birds overdue to go home. As one of the folks we met at an event in SF last Saturday so eloquently said, “You can just see what a fine bird he is.”

signature

Elizabeth Young, MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue

mickacoo_logo

MickaCoo is a volunteer-powered, donation-supported project of Community Initiatives
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April 30, 2014
by Elizabeth
5 Comments

The Story of Homie the WunderBird

 Guest Blog Post by Adina Olivares
Adina & Homie

Adina & Homie

Early in November 2013, while sitting in our truck parked at the grocery store, I noticed a crowd gathering around a woman. I saw that she was holding a bird- a pigeon. She was throwing her arms up, whilst holding the bird, as if to throw it up in the air. My husband, knowing how I am, said, “you better go help her”. So I walked over and learned that the bird ‘fell out of the nest, nearly 20 feet overhead’, and the good-intentioned woman meant to hurl it back up to the nest! Knowing this would not be successful and that likely the bird who fell (or was pushed) out of the nest would plummet back down to the ground, I interceded.  I volunteered that I had rescued wild birds in the past and would gladly take the pigeon off her hands. This is how Homie, the WunderBird came into my life.

On the way home, I noticed Homie (short for Homero) was very hot in my hands and knowing that birds either fall or get pushed out of the nest, oftentimes because they are sick/injured I was worried. This was the first of many times, my ignorance in the world of pigeons would come to light. So I took Homero home, who I fully believed was a young adult as he was fully feathered, no yellow beak/red dot, none of the characteristics I have seen in other not-fully-fledged wild birds. (How wrong I was.) Anyway, when we arrived home, in a spare cage Homero went and in the garage he sat. It was too cold in the garage but I just knew he was ill and I did not want to introduce him to my pet birds in the house. So while he waited, I went upstairs and readied a spare bedroom to keep him in while I figured what to do. Up he went to his new bedroom, covered and away from my birds. I then set up a medium dog crate, and in the interim provided him with parrot seed and water. He looked fine? But that temperature was worrisome. So I did two things- went to the pet store for pigeon food and went online to research pigeons.  Struck out at the store, so he had to settle for dove food. Found one really interesting fact about pigeons- they have a very hot body temperature (106).  So now he went from 100% ill, to maybe/maybe not (why else would he be kicked out of the nest I thought)?

Homie - the early days

Homie – the early days

Anyway, fast forward a couple of weeks as I will not bore you with the multiple times we attempted releasing Homero into the wild.  By now you might wonder, Homero?  You named a wild bird?  Well let me tell you, everything has to have a name at our house, even when we had a snail come into a pond he had a name: Slo-Poke. (I never said we were brilliant with our naming convention.)  So I did my best not to bond with Homero, wanting him to get back to nature, his nature. I even took him out of the cage and had him exercise and do test-flights down the hallway to ensure he could fly. But none of our releases were working, each time we took him out, after doing Pij-Recon to find the perfect spot, he would simply walk back to his cage, look up at us as if to say:  Hi, nice visit to the park, huh?

So on the fifth and final release, the weekend after Thanksgiving, we went to this great place!  Ok, so it was not in the best part of town and we were a bit worried the police would be called, but there was evidence of pigeons having been around (poop!), lots of places to roost, and we thought, Success is Ours!  We put Homero on the ground, my 6ft husband chased him around a bit, clapping his hands, trying to get Homero to fly! Homero thought walking was good and sauntering even better, so that is what he did.  Husband running, clapping, Homero sauntering, me trying not to laugh, out loud, too much. I have successfully released many sparrows, scrub-jays, etc. over the years but I was learning just how very much I did not know about pigeons.

Anyway, as we spent an hour waiting for Homero to fly away to pigeon happiness, I happened to look down the path and there was a hawk sitting on a telephone line.  You can guess the rest and for this I will forever be sorry and guilty. Before I could yell to my husband to snatch up Homero, the hawk took flight, and my husband who was less than 5ft from Homero, got to him last, after the hawk. We picked up a bleeding, screaming, head-tilting Homero, wrapped him up and had a horrible ride home.  Both my hubby and I are in Healthcare, so we did a physical exam, a neuro-check, there did not appear to be a head-injury, no obvious fractures, and the bleeding subsided.  So we supported Homero as best we could that night and let him rest, letting the Great Spirit decide his fate, and if he was there in the morning, we would take it from there

Anyway, the next morning, my WunderBird was still alive! He could not lift his head, he could not stand, so then began the ‘Pigeon-ICU, 24 hr care’. (I am an RN and used to work in the ICU, well those skills came in handy I tell you.)

After the hawk strike

After the hawk strike

Side Note: In contrast with many of our healthcare colleagues and friends, we don’t often seek medical attention, believing we can rely upon our knowledge, good sense, medical experience and Nature to heal us. I have ICU/Trauma Nursing experience and my hubby has EMT and Emergency experience. Also, my initial experience with our local Wildlife center had me convinced Homie would have been euthanized. 

I provided hourly feeding, cleaning (he pooped himself) and company. Out the window went the ‘not going to bond’ and instead was the promise, that if Homero made it through this, he would have a Forever Home with us. As time progressed, Homero could stand, kinda, as he wedged himself against the side of the cage, which we adapted so he wouldn’t fall through.

Recuperating from the hawk strike

Recuperating from the hawk strike

We put a slick surface on the sides, as eventually he would slide-walk around the perimeter of the cage. As he slowly started to heal, we worked on Physical Therapy (as he had a chronic tilt to his head and I worried about Torticollis). We made sure the cage was safe (shallow water bowl, etc.) as he spent a lot of time falling when he eventually tried to walk, er stumble.  He would have definitely gotten a FUI (Flying Under the Influence) ticket had he been out as that boy looked 3 sheets to the wind when he tried to walk.

Homero amazed us every single day with the determination he had.  Despite rolling and falling and tripping, he would not give up, so how could we. I received great help and advice on the site Pigeon Talk. I was panicky at the thought of shoving a huge defrosted pea down his throat, but was surprised to learn of how much protein they have, how easily he swallowed them and that he actually liked them. Not sure at what point I found Elizabeth and MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue, but here I was provided even more love and support for Homero (and me). I learned how committed pigeons are to their mates and how Homero needed to be around other birds, so we moved him downstairs and put his cage near my two other birds, BB (rescued Peach-Faced Lovebird) to the right and Maya (Gold-Capped Conure) on his left.

BB

BB

Maya

Maya

In addition I purchased Homero a friend to snuggle with- a baby duck stuffed toy. Up till recently, Duckie went everywhere Homero did, and was snuggled and loved quite well by Homero (until he was replaced).

Cuddling with Duckie

Cuddling with Duckie

As the weeks went by, Homero became Homie (he was staying around, so why not get familiar). He was on the same schedule as BB & Maya. Sleep cages at night, downstairs by a big window during the day. Special ‘pea-times’ with Momma and out-of-cage times as he got better and better. Time progressed and Homie was out of the cage every day flying around the house. Navigation skills, so-so. Landing skills needed some improvement, as did eating skills. Targeting abilities were still off a bit. All chair backs/furniture covered with towels, paper-towels at the ready to clean the many, many, many poops. Homie, well loved, enjoyed his bath times and laying in the sun. We tried Pigeon Pants (for Mommy’s sanity), but Homie hated it so we relied on paper towels and cleaning material instead.

After bath Homie

After bath Homie

I noticed that Homie loved looking at my iPhone and taking pictures and was fascinated by my iPad. Then something struck me, and I turned on a game/app I have called Games for Cats©. (Did I mention that I rescue & fix neighborhood ferals too?  Figures, huh… and sometimes those ferals become family, oh well).  Anyway, Homie loved playing the Chase the Mouse game and playing it helped his targeting skills. Remarkable! I had to share Homie the WunderBird’s story with the game developers and they were quite touched and appreciative and asked me to post a YouTube video showing Homie in action.

Gamer Homie

Gamer Homie

So now, here we are, five months plus after initially rescuing Homie, then rescuing Homie from my ignorance (hawk-attack) and I am happy to say a lot has happened. Homie is about 95% ‘normal’ at this point. He can walk, eat and fly quite well, although when he gets tired, he does stumble a wee bit, and he doesn’t always hit the seed he was aiming for, but he is a healthy, happy bird. We have finished his forever home- a big, beautiful and quite safe aviary in the backyard, about 4’x8’x6’. One funny thing, we took Homie to meet Jill, one of MickaCoo’s volunteers, to have her check out Homie and for me to learn more about pigeons. Jill gave me the Pigeon Birth Control talk, although I just knew Homie was a he (based on everything I had read online!) but Jill thought maybe just maybe, Homie was a she. Well, that night, I put the two wood eggs in his nest and woke the next morning to a surprising three eggs! So there went my assuredness that Homie was a he, as my dear, sweet Homie definitively is a she!

Homie lays an egg

Homie lays an egg!

March 10 2014 Update: Elizabeth did a home visit and brought out some friends for Homie- hopefully a mate. Homie immediately took a shining to bachelor Bubba. Bubba however, played very hard to get, despite Homie tugging on his tail and staring longingly into his eyes. But like everyone who comes into contact with Homie, he could not resist her and they fell in love and are now ‘married’! Bubba had a really bad wing clipping (prior to being rescued) and does not yet fly well yet, but lil Homie understands limitations and makes sure she takes care of her man.  So that’s the story (Part 1) of Homie the WunderBird!

Bubba & Homie

Bubba & Homie

I would like to end this long story with a deeply heartfelt gratitude and thankfulness for those who helped Homie in her recovery! Without those wonderful people it may not have turned out as well as it did, despite Homie being a truly remarkable, WunderBird and never giving up on herself!

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Homie & Adina

Hector & Homie

Hector & Homie

The aviary Homie built

The aviary Homie built

Bubba & Homie

Bubba & Homie

Homie the WunderBird

Homie the WunderBird

Part 2 Coming Soon!

Note from MickaCoo: For the best outcomes, we recommend that rescuers of baby pigeons find a pigeon-friendly wildlife expert ASAP rather than learn “on the job”. Learn more here.

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