October 5, 2017
by Elizabeth

Olive’s Place sanctuary / Canvas Dove art studio

Guest Post by Ashley Dietrich


A typical day at the Olive’s Place sanctuary / Canvas Dove art studio begins with checking on all birds, some light cleaning, and of course breakfast and treats.  Rescued pigeons live in the outside aviaries year-round (visiting the house regularly), and doves rule my art studio.  My paintings provide the means to work from home and care for the birds.

We just completed the construction of a third aviary for Olive’s Place residents, which allowed me to separate my flock by temperament.  This also provides more space for future birds, emergency intakes, and rehabbing injured and orphaned wild pigeons and doves.

Indoors, I am busy creating more bird portraits for fall art shows – but I am most excited about Flocktoberfest!  I am thrilled to be planning a trip to San Francisco to meet my Palomacy friends (the human ones too) who I have known online for years!  I will be bringing original artwork to sell – and I will also be painting live.

Helpful George

So what is it like to share space with doves while working from home?  Never boring.  The doves are exploring, cooing, bathing, preening, flicking seeds, and sometimes napping on my desk.  More than once, I have made color choices based on the simple fact that a bird was perched on a paint tube and I didn’t want to disturb him.  They occasionally help “teach” an orphan baby bird how to eat. (I place the baby’s cage near the dove feeding area, and the young ones watch and learn.)  Eating at my desk is impossible for me though – they will all hover hungrily, and George *will* hop into my cereal bowl for his coveted Rice Crispies.  Doves indoors (until a recent adoption, I had 6) do require more cleaning that the average art studio.  I vacuum each day, and do a thorough cleaning weekly.


Having studio doves has changed the way I organize my space.  The studio was remodeled from the master suite of the original house.  We added windows, and I use the walk-in closet as a packaging area and storage.  I also had to change my light fixture when it became a popular nesting spot.  I cannot leave artwork sitting out to dry, so I transfer pieces to another room to varnish.  This has the added benefit of keeping my work station clear.  I do not use any solvents around the birds, and my studio is only for acrylic painting (water based).

Sometimes the doves take interest in what I’m doing, and sit with me while I work.  But mostly, they are busy with their usual activities – as are the pigeons, who I can see in the aviary from my windows.  They are all good company, and keep life interesting.  Follow me on Instagram: @canvasdove for sneak peeks new bird paintings and behind the scenes in my studio & @olives_place to see more pigeon and dove antics.

Four Kings


About the Artist Ashley Dietrich
I hold BFAs in Studio Art and Art History, and painting is my passion as well as my livelihood. Birds are each unique individuals with their own personalities, and I am honored to be part of so many little lives. Capturing their gestures and the complexity of feathers is a fulfilling technical challenge, but I especially enjoy creating portraits and getting to know who I’m painting. I also work as a volunteer wild bird rehabilitator, specializing in doves and pigeons. Painting allows me to work with wild birds as well as spend time with my own little flock.  www.CanvasDove.com



October 4, 2017
by Elizabeth

Curpigeon (Behind the Scenes)

In 2013, I received this E-mail:

Hi, I am a graduate student at the Academy of Art University and the director of a large 3 D animated short collaborative called Curpigeon (play on Curmudgeon).

The story is about a community of old widowed men and their faithful park pigeons that come together to help one of their own to get through a great loss.

The project is about to start test animation in one of the academy’s classes, helmed by ILM animator JD Haas.

In the class, the animators will be studying the movements of pigeons in order to animate our 6 pigeon characters. I would love to set up an opportunity for a volunteer from your organization to bring some of your magnificent birds and perhaps give a demonstration to our crew.

I invite you to please look at our film’s website and, if you connect with the material, please contact me to chat more about your organization being involved with our wonderful story.


All the best,
Dmitry Milkin

So over the years, Palomacy people and pigeons would periodically visit Dmitry and his crew. We answered lots of questions and made sure that everybody got lots of close up pigeon experience!


Dmitry Milkin, writer & director Curpigeon

The audio team even came out to visit and record in my aviary.

Recording & learning about pigeon sounds

And now the award-winning short film is finished and can be seen by all on Amazon (free if you have Prime)!

Dmitry writes, Elizabeth and Palomacy played such essential roles in the animation phase of Curpigeon’s production. Along with volunteers, she was able to bring several feathered pals along for our animators to study, engage with, and get to know.

Curpigeon is a heartwarming story about the power of community support during a time of grief, this action-oriented CG-animated short film centers around a group of park pigeons and their old men pals who come together to help one of their own get through a great loss.

Curpigeon has become an award winning film, featured in 30 film festivals across the globe, including the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Now, for the first time ever, it is available to the public on Amazon. Watch now!

Curpigeon animators helped by Palomacy experts

Congratulations, Dmitry and crew! Thank you for creating this beautiful film!


October 4, 2017
by Elizabeth

Saving Beatrice


In early June, a domestic pigeon, bred for the “sport” of pigeon racing, was taken far from home and released (along with thousands of others) to try and fly back. Instead she was injured and grounded. She was incredibly lucky to be found by a kind person before being killed by a hungry predator. She was taken to a shelter that doesn’t really serve birds (few do) and while they waited to hear back from her owner (they didn’t), she also waited… They didn’t understand how compromised she was and she didn’t get a lot of care.

When I picked her up on June 30th to bring her into Palomacy’s foster care, I was shocked to find her so emaciated and weak. She was completely unable to use her legs and down on her keel (breastbone). Usually shelters alert us to the 911 cases and we prioritize those birds, bumping them up ahead of the less-urgently-in-need birds on our waiting list, but that hadn’t happened for Beatrice. I was very worried that help might have come too late for her.

Beatrice on intake

Though very quiet and gentle, Beatrice has a strong will and she was not ready to give up. She had suffered spinal trauma and while she couldn’t move her legs, they still had feeling. With enough time and support, we’ve seen a lot of pigeons make amazing recoveries and Beatrice is one of them. It took a few weeks of supportive care, pain and anti-inflammation meds, cage rest and hydrotherapy (floating in my kitchen sink an hour a day to relieve pain and pressure and improve circulation) and very gradually, Beatrice regained weight, strength and the use of her legs!


Floating with snack service

She can now stand, walk and fly. On October 1st, she attended her first outreach and adoption event and though I still treat her like she’s glass, she’s strong and did great. Beatrice has made her remarkable recovery because Palomacy was able to give her the opportunity to heal. Beatrice is one of more than 800 pigeons and doves whose lives we have directly saved since we began this work in 2007. And, thanks to the power of the Internet, we are helping countless others through coaching, education and referrals. You are helping Palomacy save a lot of lives. Thank you!

Beatrice standing tall


October 3, 2017
by Elizabeth

2018 Calendar Photo Contest!

We are very excited to announce the upcoming Palomacy’s 2018 calendar photo contest and fundraiser starting Monday October 16th & ending Friday, November 10th.

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!

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

Winning photos will both be featured in the 2018 calendar as well as receive two full color 2018 Palomacy calendars!


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!

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

And you’ll be able to pre-order Palomacy 2018 Calendars as great gifts for those special bird-lovers in your life ($24 including shipping within the US, $29 for international shipping).

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 2018 a truly wonderful year for these very special birds!

Here are some of the winning photos from our 2017 contest:



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


September 14, 2017
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

A New Home For A “Homer”

Domestic Pigeons: The Hidden Avian Welfare Issue

Reprinted from The Official NEEWSLetter of Foster Parrots & The New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary

By Michele Nash


Sometimes animals enter our lives quite unplanned, and most often after they have already endured their own inauspicious and circuitous path before coming under our care. If someone had told me I’d be spending three solid days and two hundred dollars renovating a shed to build a large aviary for a pigeon I’d have said they were crazy. But when Kahuna arrived at the New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary, he, as they say, had me at “Coo”. Apparently still quite young, he had been found on a street in Providence. Under the care of the NEEWS he was vetted and de-loused. Within just a few weeks he had increased impressively in size and was utterly handsome! But without other pigeons of his variety at the sanctuary he was without community. After months of making excuses why I should not take in the lone bird with no friends and a feisty attitude, I brought him home from the sanctuary.

Kahuna is a homing pigeon, or a ‘Homer’ in pigeon racing parlance. His band could be traced to a pigeon club in Massachusetts, but we have found that breeders generally do not welcome the return of pigeons who fail to fly home. Not willing to invest resources or support the genetics of pigeons regarded as “damaged goods”, some pigeon breeders will euthanize these undesirable birds.

Homing pigeons bond strongly and mate for life. So strong is their reproductive drive and their desire to get back to their mates that they are, in fact, seen as a symbol of fidelity, love and home. This propensity for bonding has been exploited to the point of creating a sport that is global in scope and can be extremely lucrative for breeders of some of the world’s most acclaimed racing birds. One very successful method for training homing pigeons for lives as racers is referred to as “widowhood”. Once a homing pigeon has been mated and produced offspring, these birds are allowed access to their mates and their babies only upon returning from their race. This creates the sense of urgency needed to cultivate a winner. Some racing pigeons are simply shown their mates in the presence of another bird within their nest box before being taken away to race and the lasting image of that drives them to fly faster to deal with the interloper when they get back home. While methods like these create “money-makers” for hobbiests, it’s yet another example of human use of animals for utilitarian purposes without consideration for the impact on the animal. Pigeons bond for life and sometimes do form lifelong bonds even with same-sex partners, suggesting that bonding is rooted in emotional attachment, not just reproduction. And of course, we cannot ignore the risks to the lives and safety of the birds. Predation is a constant threat, and factors like weather systems, accidents, hunger, dehydration and exhaustion result in the untold numbers of injured and lost pigeons that fill humane shelters from coast to coast every year.

Pigeons are not widely regarded as “companion animals”, but the fact is that these birds can make wonderful pets. They are intelligent, affectionate and interactive. Their soft coos are infinitely more pleasant to listen to then the calls of the average parrot! Most of all, the need for homes for these birds is enormous. Pigeons bred for racing or for dramatic releases at events like weddings do not have the ability to survive in the wild without assistance from people to provide food, shelter and protection from predators. They are not “wild animals”.

Happy new pigeon home

Kahuna happily came home with me and together (with maybe a teeny bit of help from my husband) we converted our shed into a very impressive pigeon coop. Kahuna was instantly at home, but he was still lonely. This led me to the MSPCA in Boston where “Pudge” had been waiting almost 3 months for adoption. Upon first seeing her in her cage at the shelter I was dumbstruck. The picture online did not properly convey her size at all. She was enormous, at least twice the size of Kahuna. And she was beautiful! Pure white and sleek as a sea otter with a cranium shaped like a beluga whale, she sat there placidly and royally, as if waiting for her prince to arrive.

Pudge is a King Pigeon, I soon learned, and according to veteran pigeon rescuer Elizabeth Young from Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Rescue in San Francisco, CA., these impressive birds are the “masters of the leisure arts”, a large docile breed known to produce the young squab seen on many restaurant menus. Like Kahuna, Pudge had no ability to survive in the wild. Had she not been found and brought to the MSPCA she would have perished.

I arrived home with Pudge, and since it was approaching dusk, I thought I would allow just a brief introduction through the bars of her carrier and take her inside with me for the night. This was not to be. From first sight, Kahuna stopped doing his perpetual figure 8’s and constant cooing and stared, and stared, with what looked like awe. I let Pudge out of her carrier and she lifted off, albeit like a Flying Fortress heavy bomber, whereby she alighted immediately on a roost in the outdoor aviary- Kahuna following fast like a nimble and quick F-18 in comparison. A few chortles later by Kahuna, and they were enjoying seed on the ground together. Within just a couple days they were inseparable, happily lazing about, engaging in friendly beak wrestling and canoodling in the basket that Kahuna had claimed as their nest. The rescue of one lucky pigeon had resulted in the rescue of two, and also the beginning of my advocacy for these remarkably intelligent and social birds.

Pudge & Kahuna



Michele Nash: After exiting stage left from the workaday world over a year ago, I have suddenly found myself with that very precious commodity…TIME. I am now happily able to devote myself to the causes that had tugged at my heart strings for years.  The more involved I’ve become caring for different species, as well as our own, the more I’ve realized that loneliness, and thus neglect, is a pervasive condition shared amongst all.  It is this condition which inspires me every day to get out the door and spend as much time as I can to alleviate it for as many as I can come in contact with.  I’ve never been happier, the rewards have never been greater, and the people and animals I’ve met  never more inspirational..

Editor’s Note: Kahuna is actually a type of pigeon called a Roller, not a Homer.  (Learn more at Violet (Or What’s Wrong with Roller Pigeons?)


August 29, 2017
by Elizabeth

“What Kind of Bird Is This?”

Guest Post by Lori Knuth

Domestic pigeon seeking help

“What kind of bird is this?”

“What kind of bird is this?”  That simple text message, along with the photograph that accompanied it, marked the beginning of my role as a pigeon-mom.  It also led me to Palomacy, a pigeon and dove rescue organization comprised of the most extraordinary individuals whom one could ever hope to meet.

The text was from my co-worker, Kathryn.  The bird featured in the photograph was Francesco, an amazing pigeon who has touched my life in a most profound way.

One summer afternoon two months ago, Francesco flew over the fence into Kathryn’s yard, where she and her family were enjoying their day poolside.  Francesco was clearly a tame bird, readily approaching them and even hopping up onto the lawn furniture to sit next to them.  Though tame, he had no band, nothing by which to identify the person to whom he might belong.

The family decided to let the bird stay while they continued to swim and talk – and stay the bird did.  Hours passed, and Francesco stayed.  The family went indoors, and Francesco stayed.  Actually, no, he did not stay when they went indoors.  He tried to follow them into the house.

Evening approached, and Francesco made it clear that he did not plan to go anywhere.  Kathryn decided that she had to act.  Naturally, she reached out to me, not because I had any knowledge of pigeons, but because I am that crazy bird lady and lover of all animals, one of those people who is easily suckered into permanently housing any creature in need.

“Kathryn, can’t you take the bird?”  I already knew the answer to my question. Kathryn could not take him.  What else could I do but drive the forty minutes to her house with one of my parrot’s travel cages in tow?

What did I know about pigeons?  Absolutely nothing.  I had not the foggiest idea what to do with this pigeon whom I had just welcomed into our home.  Moreover, as it happened, my knowledge of parrots did not transfer to pigeons – at all.  I was clueless as to this pigeon’s needs and began to panic. Why is he making such weird noises and running around in circles?  Why is his neck so puffed up that it resembles a lion’s mane?  Why on earth is he twitching his wings – is he having a seizure?  Knowing that you are responsible for a living creature about which you are completely ignorant is an excruciatingly humbling and terrifying experience.

Clever, self-rescuing domestic pigeon Francesco

Clever, self-rescuing domestic pigeon Francesco

To my dismay, I quickly discovered that I was not alone in my ignorance.  For about five days, I did the best that I could to take care of this bird.  I received a lot of advice from folks who meant well but who also did not have the knowledge to help me, including an avian veterinarian who treated Francesco for a respiratory infection and parasites but also told me that he may be a wild pigeon and that I should consider releasing him into the wild once he was strong and healthy again.

That last bit of advice just did not sit well with me, and it was the last straw.  I absolutely had to find someone who knew enough about pigeons and who could help me.  I had exhausted all local resources, but during an internet search days earlier, I had come across a California pigeon and dove rescue organization called Palomacy.  I decided to send a message to the rescue’s Facebook page, hoping against hope that someone at this organization would take the time to read my plea for help in Connecticut and agree to call me.

I don’t think an hour passed before I received a response from the founder and director of Palomacy, Elizabeth Young, whose passion for and devotion to these birds is rivaled only by her energy and tireless efforts to provide a sanctuary and educate the public about how special they are.  In her response, Elizabeth thanked me for rescuing Francesco.  She also gave me her phone number.  “I am super busy, but if I can’t answer when you call, leave a message, and I will call you back.”

That very same day, Elizabeth spent the better part of an hour on the phone with me, telling me all about pigeons, offering her invaluable insight and advice, and answering my countless questions with the patience of a saint.  I will never be able to express to Elizabeth how grateful I felt for her support that day and how grateful I remain for her continuing support.

At Elizabeth’s invitation, I also joined the Palomacy Facebook Group.  When I first joined the group, it was just a resource for me, a group of people with much more knowledge than I had about pigeons, a group of people who could answer questions and help me take proper care of Francesco.  Within minutes, sometimes seconds, after posting a question, answers and suggestions appeared.

Armed with the help, support, and encouragement of the group, I finally began to relax and was able to enjoy Francesco.  And so, what kind of bird is this?  My answer to Kathryn’s question on that fateful day was simply that the bird featured in that photograph was someone’s pigeon.

Today, my answer to that same question is vastly different.  Francesco is not just somebody’s pigeon.  Francesco is my pigeon, and I am his person.  Francesco is a soulful bird, quiet and peaceful but always communicative and full of emotion.  He is gentle and intelligent.  He brims with personality and life.

Francesco & friends

Francesco has many “hobbies.”  He loves to listen to music at night before bed, and he loves to follow me all around the room.  He “helps” me with whatever task I am trying to accomplish.  His favorite pastime, though, is to sit next to me, nod his head, and twitch his wings.  We have to have several of these sessions each day.  And though he is most content when I am home with him, he also seems to enjoy the good company of his little stuffed Snoopy toy, pink owl, and miniature Eyore.  I often find him cuddled up in his nest with this “flock” when I come home to him after work – which brings me to his nest – Francesco loves his nest, a beautiful woven basket that I bought especially for him at Whole Foods.  How do I know that Francesco loves this overpriced nest?  Well, why else would he so lovingly and carefully furnish it with about fifteen to twenty pieces of Timothy hay?  After all, pigeons who don’t just adore their nest would never take the time and energy to carry fifteen pieces of hay to said nest!

Lipstick-stained Francesco loves his nest

Francesco’s house

I could talk about Francesco and who he is all day long, but I will save some of that for another story.  Suffice it to say that from Francesco, Elizabeth Young, and the Palomacy Group, I learned that pigeons are absolutely amazing creatures.  Pigeons are homebodies.  They mate for life.  They have “pigeon marriages” and will stay with their “pigeon spouse” even as the beloved mate is dying.  Pigeons are fiercely loyal, devoted, emotional, romantic, and intelligent beings.  Indeed, they possess all of the same traits that people value in other people.

I learned all of this and then some about pigeons from Elizabeth and from the Palomacy Group, but I also learned more.  Palomacy has enriched my life in a way that I never expected.  Every time I log onto my Facebook page, my feed is overflowing with stories about people rescuing precious life.  These days, my Facebook feed is literally flooded with human kindness, kindness toward the lives rescued as well as toward the people doing the rescuing.

Palomacy is an exceptional organization, and Elizabeth Young is an exceptional individual.  I just cannot sing her praises enough.  Elizabeth and those who support her rescue embody the qualities that we value most in life – compassion, empathy, integrity, industriousness, devotion, honesty, and loving-kindness.  Quite frankly, Palomacy embodies the traits of the very birds that it rescues.  Who wouldn’t want to be part of an organization like that, who wouldn’t want to donate to an organization like that, and who wouldn’t want to learn about and love the birds that Palomacy works so tirelessly to save?

Palomacy – it’s for the birds, and it’s for the people too.  It’s for all of us who want to make this world a better place, one act of kindness at a time.

Lori & Francesco

Lori lives in Connecticut with her girlfriend and life-partner.  They are owned by Francesco as well as by their two dogs, four parrots, three cats, and two guinea pigs.  To feed all of these mouths, Lori spends her days as an attorney, advocating for employee rights.


Liberty the Blind Dove | The Palomacy Blog

July 7, 2017
by Shae
1 Comment

Three Days With Liberty

Guest Post by Shae Irving

Liberty the Blind Dove | The Palomacy Blog

On a clear morning in May, Elizabeth sent an email to a group of Palomacy volunteers in the North Bay: A woman had unexpectedly passed away leaving a flock of doves with no one to care for them. Palomacy was too full to bring them into foster care, so could somebody please help the family transport the doves to the Marin Humane Society?

My afternoon was open so I raised my hand to help out. When I arrived at the woman’s home, I met two concerned cousins, each doing everything they could to handle a sad and challenging situation, including making a responsible plan for the nine ringneck doves who had been, in the words of one cousin, the woman’s whole life up to the time of her death.

The doves seemed healthy and well-cared for but I was shocked to discover that one of them was blind! Before heading out that day, I had asked Elizabeth if I should let her know about any special needs and she said no—that I should secure them and transport them and alert MHS to anything unusual.

“We just can’t rescue them all,” she said.

I understood this. Palomacy is over full with 140 birds in our foster care and already caring for a great number with special needs, and resources are limited. To keep this work going and to help more birds like these sweet doves, the organization needs more adopters, fosterers, volunteers, and donors. Knowing this, I took a deep breath and reinforced my determination to simply do what I was asked: Pack up the birds and get them safely to the shelter.

I loaded nine doves (in six carriers!) and one cousin into my Subaru wagon, the little blind dove riding in a cage on the cousin’s lap. This dove—no one knew her name or the names of any of the other doves but one, an aggressive male named “Muffin”—was missing one eye and blind in the other and she had a big bald spot on top of her head. My guess was that she had been injured early in her life in a fight with another member of the flock and then housed by herself, with the woman as her primary companion. She was very quiet on the ride, gathered completely into herself and moving very little.

The truth is, at first I could hardly look at her for fear of heartbreak. I knew almost nothing about her previous life but it was enough to understand that she had just lost her world and that she wasn’t likely to survive at the shelter. It was highly unlikely that a maimed, blind bird would be deemed adoptable. I imagined she might be euthanized before the day was done and I was trying (not very successfully) to avoid becoming attached.

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

Nine doves!

At MHS, we placed all the birds in their carriers and cages in a holding room. On my way out the door, when I thought I was turning my back on the blind dove forever, I heard an insistent coo. Muffin, the alpha male, was getting all worked up in his cage. None of the other doves responded to his outburst except the blind one: She suddenly stood up straight and let out a series of enthusiastic coos and a “laugh” that I wouldn’t have thought she had in her. Then she started to preen. Tears sprang to my eyes.

I sent Elizabeth a text and a photo:

“Oh, Elizabeth, all these doves look great except this old sweetie who is blind and nearly immobile – but still laughing and preening. Hard to leave her here (hard to leave ANY of them here) but is there any other choice?”

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

Our first photo of the dove soon to be known as Liberty

Elizabeth never got that text, nor did I get a message saying it failed to go through. While I thought I was waiting to hear back from her, we went ahead with the surrender paperwork at the front counter. I had to keep looking away from the desk because I didn’t want the kind cousin to see me crying. I was trying to get it together. She had just lost a family member and was working so hard to help. I was supposed to be the strong one here!

Finally, I sent another text to Elizabeth. In this one, I sound resigned, but really I wasn’t at all:

“Okay, they’re all checked in . . . the little old blind one will be assessed and hopefully deemed adoptable. I’m all teary.”

Then came the text I expected:

“I didn’t know one was old & blind! We’ll take that one. Can you reach out to MHS & let them know ASAP?”

I flew into action:

“I’ll bring her home and we can figure out where she’ll go from there. Honestly, I didn’t think you’d want me to leave an old single blind bird here.”

Said Elizabeth:

“You were right. Sometimes the only thing we can do is help one more.”

That’s why Palomacy is so special! And that’s how Palomacy and I met the dove I soon named Liberty — or Libby for short.

Here is Libby’s blind but otherwise uninjured eye . . .

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

And here is the side that got so badly hurt . . .

Liberty's Left Side | The Palomacy Blog

When I brought Liberty home, I had four pigeons of my own in outdoor aviaries, plus I was bird-sitting a charming indoor ringneck dove named Lucky (also a Palomacy rescue). I have a fair amount of experience with these coo-birds, but being with a blind bird was brand new to me. For guidance, I turned to Elizabeth (of course!) but also to the mysterious, tiny being beside me. She might not be able to see or use human-speak, but I knew she could tell me a lot about herself and what she needed.

Knowing she was used to a woman’s voice, I talked to her in soothing tones. I hoped that hearing my voice would help her relax and begin to get oriented. Indeed, her hearing was very sensitive and she quickly clued into wherever I was in the room. When I was nearby, I would be sure to speak to her and let her know what I was doing: “Hi Libby, it’s just me, sweetie. I’m going to open your cage door now, okay?”

When I reached my hand into her cage to gently stroke her neck, I was amazed by her response. She leaned into my hand as soon as she sensed it, perking up and clicking her wings. Again, it became obvious that there was a lot more life in this little girl than I could see with my two good eyes. I could feel that she wanted to step right up onto my hand. Lifting her up while protecting her with my other hand, I drew her close to my chest. From there, all she wanted to do was snuggle or, at other times, walk up the front of me and nestle into my neck or hunker down on my shoulder. (I would let her do the shoulder balance only with something behind us, like the back of the couch, to avoid unpleasant surprises. I had no idea if she could fly; for her safety I had to assume that she could fall.)

When Libby felt social and safe, she would begin to coo — and then she would coo and coo and coo and coo. I said to Elizabeth, watch out, this bird will knock the love socks right off you. She is absolutely irresistible and I wished I could have kept her with me forever. Right now, she’s soaking up the wonderful foster care of sisters Paloma and Vivia and their mom, Dale. They didn’t have her long before they fully understood why I cried (again!) when I left her with them. Everyone falls hard in love with Libby!

Liberty With Vivia | The Palomacy Blog

Vivia and Liberty meeting for the first time

Just a few more things I learned from Libby:

1. A stuffed chicken feels kind of like someone’s shoulder, but standing on it doesn’t work too well! (This gave me the idea to make a more stable, shoulder-like bolster for her cage by stuffing a sock with beans.)

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog
2. A log may seem secure at first but it might roll if not supported, giving both bird and foster-care-person quite a surprise. (Necessity being the mother of invention, I fashioned a brace for the log from two small dowels and some masking tape.)

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

3. Setting a blind bird right in the middle of a big dish of seeds will encourage them to eat because there’s food wherever they turn. (Elizabeth taught me this. It’s good to know!)

4. A glass pie plate filled with about an inch of water and set on the floor makes an acceptable bathtub. (Libby took one big bath in the time she was with me, raising one wing at a time and leaning into the water, then ducking in breast first like any other bird would, shaking water all over the room.)

5. Some time spent in natural sunlight is important for good health and might even stimulate regrowth of lost feathers. (Another excellent tip from Elizabeth.)

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

Libby was also great at letting me know when she did and didn’t want to be held. Sometimes she was clearly excited to be picked up and sometimes she ignored my hand when I offered it to her, letting me know she preferred to rest. But I know she always listened to me when I came in and out of the room and that she truly seemed to like and rely on the sound of my voice. After she was gone, I missed her so much that for a little while I kept right on talking to her.

Hey, Libby, I hope you’re doing well at your new foster home. I know they’re going to love you and take good care of you.

Hi, Sweet Liberty, thank you for letting me get to know you.

Okay, Libby, I’m going out now, I won’t forget about you!

Three Days With Liberty | The Palomacy Blog

Liberty and me

Most of Liberty’s friends are still at the Marin Humane Society and AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION. Please visit this link and enter “Bird” in the search box to view all the doves and pigeons at MHS.

Shae Irving has loved pigeons and doves since she was rescued by a king pigeon way back in 1993. She’s been a Palomacy adopter and volunteer since 2011 (she helped Elizabeth set up this very website) and she currently belongs to three adopted pigeons: Gem, Haiku, and recent widower Yuzu. Shae works as a writer, editor, and social media manager and she lives in Fairfax with her husband, Stewart. You can follow her (and her bird friends) on Instagram @shaeirving.


June 11, 2017
by Elizabeth
Comments Off on Captain Jack’s Amazing Rescue Story

Captain Jack’s Amazing Rescue Story

Guest Post in 2 Parts by Mallika Upadrasta & Melne Murphy

Pigeon says, Help?

PART 1 Mallika Upadrasta: I was getting out of my friend’s car in a hurry to catch the train at Ashby BART station. I saw him land on one of those huge concrete flower planters on the side walk. Even as he was flying down I knew something was wrong with him. He sat uncomfortably, bunching up his feathers. He got up and started limping around, pecking for food in the dirt. That’s when I saw that one of his legs was missing. Most of the feathers on his back were missing. He flew down from the concrete planter to the side walk and sat there, unable to move too much. Passersby would walk close and see him on the ground but nobody had the time to stop for him.

Injured by a hawk strike or car collision?

I tried getting closer to him but it only scared him more. So I tried to stay at a safe distance and kept a watch on him, all the while trying to reach rescue centers. It was almost 5 in the evening and almost all the places were closed. Nobody was available after business hours. I got an email address from one of the automated messages. Totally not expecting a response, sure that nobody looks as much at emails, I sent an email to Adoptkings@gmail.com with a picture of him. I got a response in half hour, directing me to keep him safe and ask for help from passersby to catch him while she tried to find a volunteer to come help. My phone battery was dying and I knew my family would get worried. I had already tried to grab him many times in those two hours but it was impossible. His reflexes were way faster than mine. I tried feeding him my leftover lunch and he liked that. I got closer to him and started moving my hand close to his beak so he would trust me but I guess it doesn’t work that instantly as he flew off to a far planter when I made my final attempt to catch him. In despair, I walked to the train.

Click the image to see Mallika’s videos

I felt so guilty leaving him there. While on the train I got a call from a lady asking about the pigeon. It lifted my spirits! I texted his location hoping he would still be there. He was! I got a text back with his picture after the rescue. All this while, Ms. Elizabeth Young was communicating over the email with me. The lady who rescued was Melne Murphy! I couldn’t be more thankful to them. I have been getting updates about him. Melne took him to the bird hospital the next morning and, because he only has one leg, he will need a forever home. I was asked if I could take him and I am excited about fostering him! We named him Captain Jack after Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean. Like him, our Jack is brave and has a limp just like a pirate! Our little fellow is very curious and quite friendly for a pigeon.

Thanks to Melne, Elizabeth and the doctors who are treating him. They are amazing!

I am a pharmaceutical engineer. Came to the USA on a work project. I live with my husband in Fremont. My love for animals all sizes comes from my mom. I like to upcycle from cardboard, craft and watch movies in my free time. I think Becky from Finding Dory is one of the most hilarious characters ever.



PART 2 Melne Murphy: Moe and I arrived at the Ashby BART station, and an inital scan of the large planters outside the station where the bird had last been seen showed nary a bird. We compared the planters to the photos we’d been sent to insure we were in the right place. We were, but no birds. It was nearly 6:30, and the remains of the day were steely grey with the an unseasonal rain storm. Knowing that with the fading light the birds are beginning to think more about roosting than foraging, I began to think that we’d have no luck finding this one bird.

With no birds on the upper level, we proceeded down to the BART entrance to below the road level to see if we had any sightings. We spied a couple of pigeons all tucked in for the night high above our heads on a ledge, and that served to reaffirm my thought that we weren’t going to find this one bird. As we walked along, we picked up and disposed of 6-8 hair extensions that were laying on the ground– items like human hair or hair extensions are one of the prime reasons for pigeon stringfoot injuries.

Nearing the BART entrance, I spied a flock of pigeons on the far end, and quickened my pace to scan for our little injured guy. I almost immediately spied a limping pigeon headed with intent toward a small gap between the station wall and another structure, about 5″ wide. That was the bird! I signaled for Moe to hurry with the pet carrier, removing my coat to free up arm mobility.

Just as I neared, the bird slipped into the gap. I heard an angry “COO!” eminating from the recesses of the gap, and peered in to see our target– but deeper in, a rather angry pigeon who was all about defending his space from the intruder. I reached in, and the bird scurried away from me, but then he was faced with his angry peer, pecking and cooing with gusto. Our bird faltered and ran back toward the exit, despite the evil human hands there. I made a grab for him, and, perhaps with not the most graceful catch, caught him nonetheless. He struggled mightily, and after a failed attempt to get him in the carrier backwards, we turned him around (head first works best!) and popped him into the carrier.


Awaiting him in there was a big handful of delicious seeds, and by the time we had walked back to the car, the bird was busy stuffing his beak. (NOTE- What we did here was wrong! We let him eat a handful of seed, and seeing he’d eaten it all, gave him another handful. When I dropped him off at the veterinarian the next morning, the vet commented that his crop was HUGE! He informed me that a starving bird (or any other starving creature) needs to use some of its depleted store of energy for digestion, and if you feed too much right away, it can actually lead to the gastro-intestinal tract shutting down. I will remember this in the future, and only feed a small amount at first. The bird will be fine, but I could have caused it worse problems by offering it an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord.)

The very next morning I took our little charge out to Medical Center for Birds, and the doctor informed me that the bird lost a leg due to injury, and said the leg had not completely healed, so the injury was fairly recent. He also was missing two toes from the other foot, and a lot of feathers on his back, including his entire tail. And, since foraging on one leg is inordinately difficult for a pigeon, he was extremely thin. If I were to posit a guess, I’d say the bird had been struck by a car.

Hospitalized at Medical Center for Birds

The doctor said this pigeon will not be able to return to the wild. The missing leg makes it too difficult for him to forage effectively, so he will be looking for a forever home. The good news is, the doctor said that during his exam, the bird was extremely calm and displayed a great disposition, and will likely make a very good companion pigeon. Anyway, that is the story of the rescue of this little sweet bird, thanks to Mallika, an observant BART rider who took the time and had the tenacity to find this little pigeon person some help.

Melne is fond of all birds, wild and domestic, but ever since befriending a flock of pigeons in downtown Oakland, she has found a special kinship with Columba Livia. She is a volunteer for Palomacy, and currently lives with three pigeons, Bowie, a dark checker feral male adopted from Medical Center for Birds, and two Palomacy birds–his mate Carlita, a Budapest Short-faced Tumbler, and Palomacy foster bird Banano, a fancy female Roller, plus two Green Cheek Conures, Cheeky and Sage.

Moe discovered a love for pigeons by interacting with a flock in Oakland, and has assisted in numerous feral pigeon rescues, with a keen eye for finding nestlings in trouble. He now has relationships with three different flocks across the East Bay, and appreciates their understated beauty and amusing antics. He has volunteered for Palomacy fundraising events and Aviary maintenance.
Note from Elizabeth: Thank you to Mallika for all she did to ensure that poor little Captain Jack got the help he needed. She saved his life by reaching out and persisting till she found help for him and thank you to Melne and Moe for dropping everything to rush out and rescue him. Please support the work Palomacy does- donate, volunteer, foster and/or adopt!


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