October 19, 2014
by Elizabeth

MickaCoo at Wildlife Education Day 2014

Pigeons are very exciting to meet

Pigeons are very exciting to meet

I had the pleasure of spending my Saturday with MickaCoo volunteers Lisa and Faye at the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society’s Wildlife Education Day in Cupertino. Together, with the help of ambassador pigeons Amelio, Dylan and Pat and Ringneck dove Gem, we made a couple hundred new friends for the birds.

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Pigeons are the wildlife most people see most often and yet they are very misunderstood. Most of what people think they know about pigeons is actually wrong! (They aren’t dirty, they don’t spread disease, they don’t displace native birds, they ARE intelligent, emotional, loyal, amazing!) And the domestic (unreleasable) pigeons make great pets! Would you like to volunteer and help MickaCoo create compassion for these birds? We need your help (volunteer application)! Click on photos to see full size. 




October 15, 2014
by Elizabeth

MickaCoo (is Not Alone) at the Bay Area Pet Fair & Adoptathon!


Rebecca & Annika fell in love!

MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue had a wonderful weekend at the Bay Area Pet Fair & Adoptathon sponsored by Pet Food Express! We spent two days introducing lots of animal lovers to the joys of pigeons as pets. We had great support from our volunteers- Claudia & Jim and Natalia, Misha & Jorge- thank you! We answered lots of questions and made lots of new friends (welcome!) and the very most exciting thing of all- we had lots of company advocating for the pigeons! Peninsula Humane Society (the first shelter to start including pigeons at adoption events several years ago) brought seven of their pigeons this weekend! (PHS leads the Bay Area shelters in pigeon & dove adoptions!) AND San Francisco Animal Care & Control brought pigeons and a dove along with their many other available animals! AND, for the first time ever, the Marin Humane Society brought a pair of their pigeons along to the adoptathon!

Let me restate: This weekend, three animal shelters included pigeons in the adoptable pets they promoted to thousands of adoptathon attendees.

This is incredibly wonderful, unprecedented and clear proof that we are making progress!

Seven years ago, domestic pigeons & doves were the animals in the Bay Area shelters least likely to be adopted and most likely to be euthanized. They weren’t named, promoted on websites nor included in events. They were the only animals in the shelter that had no rescue to help them when they were out of time. These smart, gentle, wonderful birds didn’t have a chance. Times are changing.

Thank you for all that you do to support MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue. Together we are creating compassion and we are saving lives.

Please click on the photos to see full size.


Dylan’s Story

October 13, 2014 by Elizabeth | 2 Comments



Usually squab producers “harvest” the nestling pigeons at 28 days old. I think Dylan must have hatched a little late or been pulled from the nest a little early because when I met her, she was still very young.

Rather than being butchered as most squab are, Dylan was sold live and “released” (either in a misguided effort to save her or ceremoniously). She was lucky to be found by a nice person who called San Francisco Animal Care & Control. They picked her up at the intersection of Cameron & Nichols before she was killed by a hawk, gull, raven, dog, cat, raccoon or a mean person.

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Found stray & helpless in San Francisco


Lucky to get to the shelter

She arrived at the shelter on September 12th. Unbeknownst to the staff, she was too young to self-feed. I was contacted on September 16th and she was starving when I picked her up that night- only feather and bone. When I opened her cage door, Dylan begged me to feed her as if I was her pigeon parent. (Baby pigeons are called squeakers because they squeak begging to be fed.)

Overfull with more than 100 birds in our foster care already, I had not planned on taking this baby in to MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue. But I couldn’t leave her. I rushed her home and started tube-feeding frequent, small watery meals to restart her GI system. She responded ecstatically- now sure that I was a momma bird.


Sleepy with a full crop

Soon Dylan was feeling better and she was determined to learn to self-feed.


Ready to learn the art of self-feeding

Dylan’s ordeal has had an impact. She has been a much more needy, clingy youngster than is typical. Even once able to self-feed, she was constantly begging and acted hungry all the time. I keep her close and spoil her with attention.


Dylan supervising my work


Dylan decides to bathe with the dirty dishes

While I’m already feeling beyond stretched with twenty foster pigeons and eleven pets (eight adopted pigeons, a parrot, a dove and my dog), I’m not sure I’ll be able to part with Dylan. Luckily, she’s a really wonderful, hard-working little pigeon ambassador and has already made lots of special friends. (Click on the photos to enlarge)

And she’s been recognized for her artistic talent as well, thanks to the Paws for Love Foundation!

I’m very thankful that we were able to save Dylan. She is, as they all are, a very special soul.



Please help MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue to help birds like Dylan. We are a volunteer-powered, donation-supported nonprofit project of Community Initiatives. Thank you!



October 9, 2014
by Elizabeth

Aurora’s Triumph

Aurora: Triumphant!

Aurora: Triumphant!

Aurora is a young survivor of pigeon racing who was found with two broken legs. Her finders kept her in a small, unsafe cage and didn’t seek any vet care for her. When MickaCoo learned of her plight a couple of months later, we picked her up the same day- the fourth of July. (See Aurora’s rescue story.)  Her “good” leg had mended on its own but was swollen, constricted by her leg band and infected with painful bumble foot. Her bad leg had fused backwards. Jill, the volunteer who dropped everything on a holiday to rescue Aurora, shot this heartbreaking video of her condition on intake.

Crippled with a backward leg

Crippled with a backward leg

Aurora was taken to the Medical Center for Birds the next day and, after treatment to heal her good leg, she underwent corrective surgery on the backwards leg July 9th. Her mis-healed leg was surgically re-broken, carefully rotated and stabilized with an external fixator in an effort to restore her ability to walk.


Surgery nearly finished


Aurora proved herself to be a perfect patient

Once home from the hospital, Aurora was lovingly cared for by her foster mom Jill. Aurora was confined to a small crate for over a month to increase the chances for a successful healing.


Dark-eyed beauty watching the world outside her crate


Aurora never complained

Jill transported Aurora back to Medical Center for Birds for periodic rechecks.

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In expert hands

Aurora’s recovery had a setback in August when she developed an infection. She was rehospitalized for three days.


An infection set her back but both feet are facing forward!


Aurora loves Jill’s loving

By the end of August, Aurora was healed and had her fixator out and bandages off! Here she is luxuriating in her first bath in months!


Happy, molting and soaking Aurora


“Please, a little privacy?”

And here’s Aurora showing off her ever improving walking skills!

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Walk therapy

On September 16th, Aurora celebrated her transformation by moving outside to join the flock in Jill’s aviary!

Jill writes, It was such an honor helping Aurora blossom. It’s even more exciting to see her thrive among her own kind, outside in the aviary. She deserved this chance at a normal, healthy life. I’m grateful that MickaCoo considers these wonderful birds worthy of this level of care. Aurora is a very young pigeon. She is grateful for a second chance at living her life- this time not used as a tool for somebody’s hobby but rather protected and cherished as a member of a flock family.

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Aurora: Restored!

Ultimately, even with multiple, generous discounts applied, Aurora’s medical care cost $2087.93.

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We could never have rescued Aurora nor Indy, Clementine, Ash, Guru, Dylan or any of the many others we’re helping without you. Thank you!

Thank you for supporting the work we do to help these beautiful, intelligent, forgiving birds.

Please help us to continue. Make a donation today. Every dollar helps! Every life matters!


Aurora: Proud to be standing tall!

Aurora: Triumphant!

Aurora: Triumphant!


October 8, 2014
by Elizabeth

Adopting Clementine- Guest Post by Xavier Heydt

Xavier & Clementine

Xavier & Clementine

Within the first week I welcomed Clementine, a young rescued King Pigeon, into my home, she (we think she’s female, time will tell) had already become so much a part of my life that I can’t imagine her not being a part of it. Clem was pulled by Elizabeth Young (the ever-diligent founding director of MickaCoo) from San Francisco Animal Care and Control (where she had been taken after being found wandering aimlessly around Hunters Point in San Francisco). Only four-weeks old, Clementine had most likely been purchased at a live-meat market and “set free” by well-meaning but sadly uninformed people who were not aware of how totally unsuited to “wild life” King Pigeons (or indeed any domesticated animal) are. Being the lucky bird that she is, Clementine managed to escape the tragic fate that befalls most of these “freed” birds, but ended up in a still dire situation- an always full shelter.

Although I was actively looking to adopt a King Pigeon at the time, Clementine was not listed on the SFACC’s website (likely because of how recently she’d arrived) and although she’s turned out to be an absolutely perfect match for me, I most likely would’ve never found out about her had Elizabeth not helped me in my search. Despite her busy schedule, she found the time to look for a pigeon that would be a good fit for me (I’d never kept a bird as a pet previously) and as soon as she sent me photographs of Clementine she’d taken while visiting her, I knew we’d found “the one”. I conveyed my excitement to Elizabeth, she helped me find a large, comfortable cage for Clementine, brought her to my house and stayed to teach me about “Basic Pigeon Care 101” (although I still plan to learn much more) and provided the medications she’d need to resolve her respiratory infection plus a baggie of the recommended high-quality pigeon feed, probiotics and an anti-parasitic. Even though I’d done my fair share of online research and thinking about how to set up a healthy, safe home environment for an adopted bird, the amount of personalized advice and equipment that Elizabeth provided has already proved invaluable in ensuring a speedy recovery for Clementine and helping me handle the stresses of first-time bird ownership. Strangely enough, we both ended up having the same name in mind: Clementine. Whether through bird-to-human telepathy or simple coincidence, the name stuck immediately.

As far as Clementine herself, she’s already a bundle of charm and personality at only five-and-a-half weeks old. From the first moment I met her, we got along famously. She’s become very comfortable and is making great progress. Her favorite activities including perching on my shoulder, sitting in her wicker basket, hopping in and out of her cage using a ramp I made, preening herself at breakneck speeds, mistaking freckles for seeds and squeaking with excitement whenever presented with food or water. Though she can be feisty, she’s been extremely friendly, easy going and constantly entertaining for all those around her. Though my girlfriend Kimberley, and I had initially been hesitant to adopt any sort of bird as a pet due to their (often undeserved) reputation for loudness, destructiveness (which may lead to nasty bites with hard-billed birds) and demanding nature, King Pigeons (all pigeons) are an exception to many of those concerns. Being soft-billed, they are incapable of causing injuries to humans (their beaks aren’t capable of breaking the flesh and when they nibble at you it’s more endearing and entertaining than frightening), pigeons are also very quiet, with young pigeons (“squeakers”) like Clementine squeaking and adults making a calming “cooing” sound. I’m shocked that pigeons and doves are not more popular amongst bird-lovers than they are.

Adopting Clementine has been one of the most positive experiences I can remember and although caring for a pigeon shouldn’t be taken lightly (as in the case of any animal), it’s brought me, my girlfriend and all others who’ve met Clementine in the short time I’ve had her great happiness and satisfaction. Although Clementine’s story has taken a sharp turn for the best there are still many, many other pigeons that deserve a caring home out there. In addition to the relationship I’ve had with MickaCoo as an adopter, I also do volunteer work (including my own freelance string-foot pigeon rescue work) for them and I can say without a doubt that they work diligently to improve the lives of pigeons throughout the Bay Area (and even in more far-away places!) and find homes for amazing but under-served creatures like Clementine. If you decide that you want to make a difference for the pigeons and doves of the Bay Area, be it through adoption, fostering or donation, you’re very lucky to have an organization as incredible as MickaCoo so close to home. Visit www.PigeonRescue.org to learn more!

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Clementine is very charming

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Clementine has a long cage as her home base


Clementine is very happy

 Adopting Clementine is also featured in the Mickaboo Bird Rescue Companion Newsletter


September 19, 2014
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

MickaCoo Partnering with Humane Society of Silicon Valley

It’s quite extraordinary when you think about it. MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue has saved more than 600 pigeons and doves’ lives, all without the benefit of a facility. We have to work extra hard to engage the public from the homes and backyard aviaries of our incredibly dedicated volunteers and via outreach events. Imagine what we could do if we had our own site? We’re not there yet but I am extremely excited to introduce you to our latest partnership, our MickaCoo-HSSV Lobby Pigeon Project! Thank you, HSSV, for welcoming MickaCoo into your big, beautiful adoption center and extra special thanks to VP of Community Alliances Beth Ward for championing this collaboration and to Volunteer Programs Manager Kris Gunderson for helping to implement it! (Please click on the photos to view full size.)


September 19, 2014
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Please Welcome MickaCoo Chairperson Clare

Clare Malone Prichard, a founding member of MickaCoo’s Advisory Committee and strong, steady presence, has generously accepted the role of Chair.

Clare writes, “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as Chair of MickaCoo’s Advisory Committee.

In the coming year, the Advisory Committee will be working closely with our Executive Director to establish goals and objectives to strengthen our little organization so that we can maintain and even expand our impact in the community.

MickaCoo has rescued hundreds of birds already.  With the help of our robust and dedicated volunteer network, we’ll focus on our core purpose of rescuing innocent domestic pigeons and doves in need, placing them in forever homes and providing life-saving interventions.”

 Please join me in warmly welcoming Clare to this leadership role.

Clare & Corinna

Clare & Corinna


September 19, 2014
by Elizabeth
1 Comment

Please Join Me in Thanking Cheryl

Please join me in thanking Cheryl Dickinson for serving as MickaCoo’s first ever Advisory Committee Chair from 2011 through 2014. Cheryl has helped MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue in countless ways and, while she has resigned from her post as Chair, her compassion-inspiring, life-saving impact continues.

Cheryl & Littie in her aviary

Cheryl & Littie in her aviary

Cheryl & Super Dovee- the pigeon who brought Cheryl to MickaCoo

Cheryl & Super Dovee- the pigeon who brought Cheryl to MickaCoo

And I’ll write here what I shared privately with Cheryl-

Cheryl, We will miss you! You were SUCH a powerhouse for us for so long! Cheryl, you’ve given WAAAAYYY more than anybody could ever ask and so, while I will miss you, I can’t complain. You have shaped MickaCoo and this effort in amazing ways. I’ll never be able to fully express my gratitude for all that you have given, done & brought to this work. I hope you feel it.

And for all that you are still doing, too! I so appreciate your ongoing Ritz Carlton fostering of a whole flock of pigeons, your generous donations of all kinds, your help with special cases and of your patiently continuing to serve as Acting Chair for nearly a year. Thank you!

Thank you, Cheryl, for serving as MickaCoo’s first Advisory Commission Chair. Thank you for being such a strong friend for the birds and the people who love them. Thank you for being a creator of compassion. (And thank you, Super Dovee, for bringing Cheryl to MickaCoo!)

Welcoming Clare as our new Advisory Committee Chair


September 19, 2014
by Elizabeth

Woot! There He Is! Guest Post by Janice Lipsky

While I love animals in general, I’ve always been most passionate about all creatures feline. For the last 20 years or so, my husband and I have always had three rescued cats at any given time. When one cat passes away, we rescue another from a shelter or the street. When I can remember, I fill a bird feeder in our backyard for my own enjoyment, but also for our cats’ entertainment.

One afternoon a couple of months ago, I noticed a lone pigeon among the groups of quails, doves, and cactus wren who eat at our feeder. I thought to myself, “that’s odd; I’ve not seen a pigeon in our area of Scottsdale before.” The pigeon looked like the kind we’d see in the streets of NYC, but more robust with glossier feathers. I forgot about him and went about my business. When he showed up over two consecutive days, my curiosity increased. I went out to get a better look and noticed a green band around his little leg. That piqued my interest! I did an Internet search of “pigeon green band leg” and all of this information about the sport of racing pigeons cropped up. I’d never even heard of such a thing. Well, I educated myself quickly, learning that it was somewhat controversial among animal welfare groups, but that the people who engaged in the sport purported to fancy pigeons as well. We continued to feed the bird (who we named “Woot” because of the noise he’d make when we approached him) and established a routine. Like clockwork he would show up between 2 and 3pm for his little dish of food and to take a drink from our pool.

Pigeon racing survivor Woot chose a new family

Pigeon racing survivor Woot chose a new family

When we went on vacation we asked our cat sitter to feed him outdoors and she told us that when he saw her through the glass he’d peck at it to get her attention. Eventually my husband was able to get close enough to Woot to write down the numbers that appeared on the leg band. Those numbers led me to a contact person at the local pigeon racing club who in turn provided me with the name and phone number of the owner. The owner told me that Woot didn’t come back after his race six months ago, although his sister did. We speculated that Woot had an injured wing, because his flying had declined over the last couple of days. I realized that I didn’t want to give Woot back. If he wasn’t a good racer, and had an injured wing, what kind of life would he have at the loft? Also, to be honest, he touched my heart with his intelligence and vulnerability. With not a small amount of trepidation about what we’d be getting into, I asked the owner if we could keep Woot. He agreed. My husband captured him and put him in our cat carrier. As we knew nothing about pigeons, I relied heavily on Elizabeth at MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue and the people in Arizona she put me in touch with. One woman recommended a vet not far from where I work, so thinking Woot might have a broken wing I took him for a check- up while my husband scrambled to find a more suitable housing space. Other than a few lice, Woot checked out fine at the vet and moved into a 2’ X 2’ X 3′  hutch my husband found on Craigslist. We knew this would not be enough space for a healthy racing pigeon in the long term. For us, having him inside with the cats while we worked all day didn’t make sense either. So I learned from MickaCoo that the other option was an aviary.

Many cages are poorly designed and unsafe for the animals housed in them

Many cages are poorly designed and unsafe for the animals housed in them

Woot's temporary hutch required modification to keep predators' talons & paws out

Woot’s temporary hutch required modification to keep predators’ talons & paws out

Well, how can I explain what happened next? I’m not fully clear on it myself. It’s sort of like making a leap of faith, or taking a plunge and making a commitment. One suppresses the trepidation and goes for the greater good. Woot really inspired us. An out of place pigeon, selectively bred for a sport he didn’t choose, trying to survive on his own…we decided to help him and that it would be both cool and joyous to have an outdoor aviary. We decided to build it.  Fortunately, one of us is very handy (not me) and was up for the challenge. We studied the plans on the links provided by MickaCoo, as well as on other sites. We spent every day of the long Labor Day weekend making trips to Home Depot and creating the aviary. We actually enjoyed the project…a shared experience, something both challenging and productive. For Woot, after spending one week in the smaller hutch, he had a new 8’ X 4′ X 8’ home. We are bonding with him a bit more every day, and after allowing him further adjustment time, we plan to get a female companion pigeon. We will use wooden eggs as birth control, because we are not interested in breeding pigeons. Now, after a lifetime of admiring felines, I’ve apparently broadened my fancy to pigeons. I’m immensely grateful to Elizabeth and her colleagues for their amazing support and advocacy for these beautiful birds.

Clever self-rescuer Woot has inspired his family to adopt another pigeon too. To be continued…

The aviary rescued Woot inspired

The beautiful and safe aviary rescued Woot inspired

Woot relaxing with his friend in the mirror

Woot relaxing with his friend in the mirror

Editor’s note: Pigeon racing kills pigeons. Every year, thousand of pigeons are bred for racing. They are taken hundreds of miles from home and tossed (as it’s called) to their fate. All will try to fly home but only a fraction will survive. They are not racing- they are just trying to get back to their family and home. Woot is extremely lucky. You can learn more about pigeon racing here.



August 18, 2014
by Elizabeth

Global Giving PHOTO CONTEST 2014!

OFFICIAL CONTEST RESULTS: After an extensive audit of votes, the final results are in and MickaCoo’s photo of Homing pigeon Gracie rescued from a lab placed 7th out of of 75 stunning entries. So the bad news is we didn’t win. The good news is, we were honored as finalists in this contest; highlighted the worthiness of pigeons amongst so many inspiring projects; mobilized tremendous support (I’m still feeling energized by all the love shared!) and we have made many new friends for the pigeons. Thank you all very much and special thanks to Cheryl for sharing her beloved Gracie and to photographer Elisabeth Millay for the gift of this timeless image.

Amazing photos, worthy causes

Amazing photos, worthy causes

August 29 Update: Voting has ended. Preliminary results show Gracie’s photo in 6th place. Thank you for all of your votes, shares and great support! See Gracie’s rescue story here and please make a donation to support this life-saving, culture-changing work. Thank you!

Please vote for Gracie and help win compassion, honor and funds for pigeons & doves!

Beautiful white homing pigeon in loving adopter's hands

Homing pigeon Gracie was rescued from life as a test subject in a lab

We don’t always see the truth. In our culture, too many people see pigeons as somehow less than worthy of our respect and compassion. Beautiful pigeon Gracie, shown here in her adopter Cheryl’s loving hands, was bred to be used for “dove releases”. She was then purchased to be used in lab testing. Finally- she was rescued. Now she is safe, unexploited, cherished. This photo, shot by photographer and MickaCoo volunteer Elisabeth Millay, has been chosen as a finalist in the GlobalGiving Photo Contest 2014. Please help us help people to see who pigeons really are. Help us win this contest, the $1000 prize, the recognition and the honor. Please vote (once per person, email and verification required) and please- share this link and ask others to vote- http://www.globalgiving.org/poll/vote/?pollOptionId=756. We will need to inspire lots of voters between now and Friday August 29th to win this for the pigeons.

Read about Gracie’s rescue here: Lab Pigeons Can Count

Read the story of Cheryl & Super Dovee

See more of Elisabeth Millay’s MickaCoo photos

Thank you for helping MickaCoo to help save the lives of pigeons & doves.

Cheryl at home with pet pigeon

Volunteer & adopter Cheryl


Volunteer & photographer Elisabeth Millay with Opal

Please remember to vote and share!



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