It was 5:15 Thursday afternoon and I had just finished up a presentation about pigeons to a youth group at the Marin Humane Society. I checked my email before heading to my next appointment (a care consult for a self-rescuing pigeon named Snezhok) and read this:
"Hi Patricia - thought to reach out to you as you are a close-by bird friend. I'm about to board an airplane out of Oakland airport and came across an injured pigeon in the parking lot. Wildcare in San Rafael will take him but he needs to be picked up and held overnight as they only accept during business hours. Think you might be able to get him tonight? If not I am flying back tomorrow and will look for him. I just thought to reach out in case bc I feel bad for the guy. Please text me if so. :) thank you and hope I'm not coming across as a crazy person."
Patricia, a fellow bird rescuer and the Budgie Coordinator for Mickaboo, had forwarded this to me an hour earlier. My heart sunk at the low probability of being able to mobilize a successful rescue for this bird but I had to try. I sent out some emails and posted to social media in the hopes of finding someone willing to fight rush hour traffic and search an airport parking lot for an injured pigeon.
I went on to my next appointment and afterwards, with no one yet looking for the pigeon, started making phone calls to give it one last try. When I reached Josette at 8:26 PM, she immediately said yes, she'd go. All the information I had to offer was: "It is in daily parking lot across from the post E4, under the monorail track. There is a huge black pickup truck sticking out, he is there...alert, just appears to have injured legs." And the heartbreaking photo.
I didn't hear back from Josette until 10:22. (I was about ready to send out a search party for her.) After more than half an hour of searching, she had against all odds, found the injured pigeon. The bird had dragged herself (using her wings) yards away and was crouched under the curve of a car's tire. My heart soared! Josette had made the impossible happen. She had dropped everything and headed out into the night to try and help an injured bird. And she had found her! I couldn't believe that we had actually pulled it off and been able to save this poor, stranded pigeon.
Josie, as this miracle bird is now named, is a one year old survivor of the cruel "sport" of pigeon racing. At least we are hoping she will survive. She was brought here to the Bay Area, hundreds of miles from her home in Reno, NV, and "tossed" with thousands of other racing pigeons to try and find her way home fast enough to win. (Learn more about pigeon racing.)
Instead she was severly injured, likely from colliding with a high tension wire, and has spinal trauma and impaired motor control, a large open wound exposing most of her keel and breast muscle, a broken leg, is emaciated, septic and shocky. Dr. Sanders of Wildwood Veterinary took her home with him to provide the care she needs through the weekend. We have seen badly injured birds make incredible recoveries. (See Ava's amazing recovery.) We are not going to give up on Josie. She's alert, eating and clearly thankful to be safe and more comfortable. Pigeons are so smart. I can't imagine how miserable she must have felt grounded and helpless in that parking lot with no hope in sight. No matter what happens, I am so grateful to be a part of a community that was able to rescue this fellow being from such a terrible fate and to give her the chance to live.
You are a part of this community. You empower this work. Thank you for your support! Thank you for your compassion!
This Wednesday, March 18th starting at 6 AM PST, online donations made to Palomacy through GlobalGiving will earn an added 30% Bonus Match while funds last. Please donate if you can. Thank you!
Dear GlobalGiving Supporters,
You hold up half our sky. With all that we do to generate support for our work, including the grants we've won, the garage sales we've held and all the rest, it is your donations, made here, that are funding 48% of our work. Thank you!
Your generous supports makes the life and death difference for the birds we serve. Together we rescued 190 birds this year and helped many more. One of the birds we saved is Dylan.
She arrived at the shelter on September 12th and, unbeknownst to the staff, was too young to self-feed. We were contacted on September 16th and she was starving when I picked her up that night- only feathers and bone. When I opened her cage door, Dylan begged me to feed her as if I was her pigeon parent.
Overfull with more than 100 birds in our foster care already, I had not planned on taking this baby in but I couldn't leave her. I rushed her home and started tube-feeding small, watery meals to restart her GI system. She responded ecstatically, now sure that I was a momma bird.
Dylan's ordeal had an impact. She was an extra needy, clingy youngster. Even after she learned to self-feed, she was constantly begging and acted hungry all the time. I kept her close and spoiled her with attention. Now four months old, she's already an accomplished pigeon diplomat. (See her full story and lots of photos here.)
And, while I'm stretched with 15 foster pigeons and 11 pets (my pigeons, a parrot, a dove and my dog), I'm not going to be able to part with Dylan. I'm going to adopt her. Dylan is home.
Thank you for helping us to do this work we do. Thank you for saving Dylan and all the others. She is, as they all are, a very special soul.
And, if you can, please give again. We need your support. We have just taken on two more medical cases (Bell & Aries) and we have a big new year ahead of us. We've changed our name- we're now Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions- but our mission is the same.
With heartfelt gratitude, Thank You.
Thank you for being a MickaCoo supporter! We are honored and inspired by your generosity.Thanks to you, Aurora, the young racing pigeon who survived catastrophic injury and neglect, has been healed. She is safe and loved and grateful to be alive! She is happy to have both her feet facing in the same direction and proud to be able to stand tall and walk! (Aurora's update)
Thanks to you, Blossom, a King pigeon bred to be squab, found sick and stray- struggling to survive the streets of San Francisco, is alive and well. She overcame a life-threatening strangulated hernia and is now adopted! She's married to a feisty pigeon named Mr. Stinker and is cherished by her person and him both. (Awesome Blossom)
Thanks to you, when baby pigeon Dylan, too weak and young to self-feed was facing death at the shelter, we were able to step in and save his life, winning his ardent devotion and loyalty. (Dylan's story)
Your donations mean we are here to help these gentle, sensitive birds whose lives hang in the balance. Every day we help guide Good Samaritans who've found a grounded bird; every week we're called to take on the foster and vet care for injured or ill shelter birds that will otherwise be killed. We coach potential adopters about the plight and potential of homeless pigeons and doves and we empower them to create safe aviaries that provide meaningful quality of life for the birds that others have abandoned. We advocate at every opportunity and we are seeing progress. MickaCoo is creating compassion where there used to be indifference, or worse.
We couldn't fill this gap without your help and we are very grateful to you!
Thank you for supporting MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue.
P.S. Tomorrow morning, Wednesday 10/15, starting at 6 AM PST, is the last GlobalGiving Bonus Match Day of the year. If you are able to make another donation, your gift will earn a much needed extra +30% for the birds. (Please donate early. The bonus match money goes fast.) Thank you!
You are receiving this project report because you support MickaCoo's life-saving work with your donations. If not for you, Aurora's story would be very different. She is just one of the hundreds of birds you are helping through MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue. And, if you can give today, GlobalGiving will add a 50% bonus match (up to $1000 per donor until match funds run out) to your gift!
If Aurora could write her story, I imagine it would go something like-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 were uninformed 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 scratched 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 housed on wire. It's very painful.
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.
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 scratches gratefully. I can only imagine how good it felt to have some relief and proper 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.
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 (and many others') veterinary care. Aurora underwent surgery to rebreak and correctively reposition her backwards leg on Wednesday, July 9th and was discharged Monday, July 14th. Dr. Speer says that in a couple of weeks, we'll hardly be able to tell which leg was backwards.
Thank you for helping us to save sweet souls like Aurora! We can't do it without you.
I first met fledgling King pigeons Donut, Fluffball, Truffles & Speckles in the back room at San Francisco Animal Care & Control on May 20th. They weren't in adoptable condition. Donut had been found as a stray on May 18 at Broadway & Columbus. The other three had been rescued from Baker Beach on May 15 at 9:30 PM. (Who knows how many squab had been purchased from a live poultry market and "released" or used in a ceremony there. I can pretty much guarantee that others were killed by hawks, gulls, ravens, etc. before Animal Control Officers arrived on the scene.)
All four youngsters needed more care than the shelter can offer. Adult pigeons are hardy but these babies, only 4 weeks old and so already frail, were also traumatized and weakened by the rough handling and high-stress predicaments they endured.
While some rescues triage to save the strongest, we prioritize those that need us most, whose lives hang in the balance. We do our very best to help the injured and sick, no matter their chances. But we were full up. Our expert fosters were maxed out.
Ever since we started in 2007, the demand for our services has exceeded the resources we have available. When we had capacity for 8 fosters, we were full. When we grew our capacity to help 40, we were full. Our caseload has grown to be more than 100 birds at any time and we are still always full with a waiting list. But how do we tell birds, stranded sick in a shelter or found injured and stray, that we are full?
I contacted a newly-ready foster family, to see if they might be willing to take on the extra challenge of fostering these frail babies and, very bravely, they said yes. The next day, I picked up the foursome and delivered them to their new family, along with meds, heating pad, a crate for indoor nighttime fostering, etc.
We spent hours examining, spraying, weighing, assessing and pilling the babies. For their part, while the birds weren't thrilled with all the scary handling and procedures, their little pigeon faces were lit up with pleasure at feeling sunshine and fresh air and having the space to stretch out and explore. Jane's family has impressed me with their ability to absorb this crash course in pigeon rescue. Eleven year old M says, "It's very fun and so amazing to watch the birds grow up."
Instead of taking on the incredibly low-maintenance, ready-for-adoption, pair of adult pigeons they had been expecting, they had opened their hearts and home to four frail, needy, high-risk youngsters. These birds required multiple trips to the vet, daily meds and weigh-ins, and lots and lots of follow up. Their foster family never complained. They rose to every challenge and did an amazing job- better than I could have hoped. And the babies loved their spacious aviary, their cozy heating pads, the sunshine and tender care.
But tragically, heartbreakingly, despite all of our best efforts including avian vet hospitalization, Truffles and Speckles died. Their immune systems were too compromised and we could not save them. They had some really good days and they came so close to living happily ever after...
What we do matters. Many of us came together to give four weak, unwanted squab their best and only chance. For Fluffball and Donut, the future is promising. They are continuing to grow stronger, their foster family is ready to adopt them and, when the time is right, another pair as well. For Truffles and Speckles, their time in the sun was too short. But they will never be forgotten.
It is a constant challenge to sustain enough support to care for all the birds for whom we are already responsible, to respond to all the new requests for our help and to not over-stretch to the breakdown point, harming birds, volunteers or the organization along the way. It is your generous support- your time, talents and donations that enable us to do this life-saving, culture-changing work. Thank you.
P.S. Today, June 13th, is Pigeon Appreciation Day! Please know- the pigeons appreciate you everyday!
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